Dmitry Bivol and Artur Beterbiev are in the planning stages to meet on June 1st at the Kingdom Arena in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, for the undisputed light heavyweight championship. The IBF, WBA, WBC, and WBO belts will be at stake.
Dan Rafael has confirmed on his site that the undisputed 175-lb championship between WBA belt-holder Bivol (22-0, 14 KOs) and IBF, WBC & WBO champ Beterbiev (20-0, 20 KOs) is being targeted for June 1st. The event could be shown on ESPN in the U.S.
Undisputed Glory at Stake
Rafael says they’re trying to determine whether the Bivol vs. Beterbiev event should be sold on PPV or not. That’s going to be a tough one, as neither of these fighters are household names in the United States or the UK.
If the Saudis put this event on pay-per-view in those countries, it would mainly be the hardcore boxing fans that would purchase it. It’s not a fight that would crossover to the mainstream, unfortunately, as it doesn’t involve trash-talkers or fighters who have massive social media followings.
Beterbiev’s promoters in the U.S, Top Rank, could try and beef up the card with popular American boxers to enable them to put the match behind a paywall on PPV, but it would have to be really popular fighters for this event to sell significant numbers in the U.S.
It’s unclear who Top Rank could add to the event to make it sellable. They can’t add fighters like Teofimo Lopez to the card because he would want to be in the main event, and that wouldn’t work, especially with the type of low-level opposition that he’s been facing since his loss to George Kambosos Jr.
Bivol, the pure boxer, will get a chance to show whether he’s got the technical skills to deal with the knockout artist, and two-time Olympian Beterbiev his first career defeat.
Bivol will likely fight defensively, using his in-and-out style to avoid being hit. He’s definitely not going to stand in front of Beterbiev or try to mix it up with him because he lacks the power, chin, and, arguably, the bravery to fight aggressively.
In Bivol’s last title defense in December against fringe contender Lyndon Arthur, he looked frightened when being attacked by the British fighter, and he fled each time he was pressured. If Bivol fights like that against Beterbiev, it could be boring.