PHILADELPHIA – Now that Artur Beterbiev has beaten one previously undefeated light heavyweight champion, Bob Arum hopes to match the Russian knockout artist against another one in 2020.
If Beterbiev successfully makes a mandatory defense of his IBF 175-pound championship against China’s Fanlong Meng early next year, Arum intends to put together a bout between Beterbiev and WBA champion Dmitry Bivol.
If Beterbiev (15-0, 15 KOs) and Bivol (17-0, 11 KOs) each win interim matches, they could fight for three of boxing’s four recognized light heavyweight titles. Beterbiev also owns the WBC title, which he won by knocking out Oleksandr Gvozdyk (17-1, 14 KOs) in the 10th round Friday night in a main event ESPN aired from Temple University’s Liacouras Center.
“Eddie Hearn has said that he would make Bivol available to fight the winner of this fight on ESPN,” Arum said after Beterbiev’s victory. “We’d take him up on that.”
Top Rank Inc., Arum’s company, co-promotes Beterbiev, who’s also represented by Yvon Michel. England’s Hearn is one of three promoters that works with Russia’s Bivol, along with New Jersey-based Main Events and Russia-based World of Boxing.
DAZN, the streaming service for which Hearn is the primary promoter, has streamed Bivol’s past two fights.
Hearn told BoxingScene.com recently, though, that he’d welcome the opportunity to have Bivol box Beterbiev on ESPN in 2020. Top Rank has an exclusive partnership with ESPN.
“I would have no problem putting him in with the winner of that fight,” Hearn said before Beterbiev beat Gvozdyk. “If they wanna do it on ESPN, no problem at all, because I think it’s the right fight. I want Dmitry Bivol to actually achieve a legacy in this sport, and to do that, you’ve gotta be in those kinds of fights.”
Bivol, 28, needs a high-profile fight following successive 12-round points victories over Isaac Chilemba, Jean Pascal, Joe Smith Jr. and Lenin Castillo since August 2018. He dropped the Dominican Republic’s Castillo (20-3-1, 15 KOs) in the sixth round of his last bout, but Bivol settled for a unanimous-decision win October 12 at DePaul University’s Wintrust Arena in Chicago.
Before exploring a showdown with Beterbiev, Bivol is expected to box an undetermined opponent in South Korea early in 2020. Bivol, who was born in Kyrgyzstan, is half Korean.
Beterbiev, meanwhile, probably will meet Meng (16-0, 10 KOs) somewhere in China early in 2020.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.