NEW YORK–Promoter Bob Arum apparently has no intention of loaning Artur Beterbiev out to fight on a different promoter’s broadcasting platform, even if the undisputed distinction is at stake.
That may be because Arum, the head of Top Rank Inc., which promotes newly-crowned three-division titlist Beterbiev, has a very low opinion of DAZN, the subscription-based streaming service which has long showcased Bivol, who owns the WBA 175-pound strap. Arum’s Top Rank has an exclusive television and streaming deal with ESPN, widely regarded as a behemoth in the sports broadcasting world. DAZN, by comparison, is thought to have a far more limited audience. Arum has repeatedly bashed DAZN and Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Boxing, one of the platform’s key content providers, for its supposedly middling viewership. (DAZN, a private company, does not release subscriber numbers and seldom releases viewership numbers).
Beterbiev, a native Russian who resides in Montreal, added the WBO belt to his IBF and WBC versions with a second-round demolition job of Joe Smith Jr. Saturday night at the Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Their 12-round light heavyweight unification bout followed Bivol’s successful defense of his WBA strap against Canelo Alvarez in May.
Talk of an undisputed match-up at 175 ramped up after Beterbiev’s destructive victory on Saturday, with Beterbiev (18-0, 18 KOs) stating afterward his preference to unify with Bivol (20-0, 11 KOs), a fellow Russian, for his next fight. For that fight to happen, however, both Arum-ESPN and Hearn-DAZN would need to find some way to collaborate.
Arum, however, made it clear that he wants Beterbiev, hot off the heels of a banner win, to continue fighting on ESPN, not DAZN, citing exposure.
“One thing with Beterbiev is that now that he is known to the public and so many people have seen him, we ain’t doing a fight on ‘Dead-Zone’ which nobody watches,” Arum told BoxingScene.com shortly after Beterbiev knocked out Smith.
Arum suggested one way to make the undisputed 175-pound bout would be for Hearn to allow Bivol to fight on ESPN.
“So, again, we’ll see,” Arum said. “I think that when the time comes even Eddie will have Bivol come over and fight Beterbiev for a big audience.”
In the meantime, Arum believes Beterbiev’s next fight will be against British contender Anthony Yarde in the fall at the O2 Arena in London.
“Yarde and Beterbiev will fight in London,” Arum said. “I talked this morning with [Yarde’s promoter] Frank Warren who will be the co-promoter there. We’re planning for a big night at the O2 Arena.”