Artur Beterbiev has evidently grown very weary over Dmitry Bivol’s constant proclamations about fighting each other.

The Russian light heavyweight champions could finally be nearing an agreement to put their respective titles on the line for the undisputed 175-pound championship later this year.

Momentum for the fight kicked into a new gear after Beterbiev brutally dispatched challenger Callum Smith of England in seven rounds last Saturday night at Centre Videotron in Quebec City, Canada, to retain his WBC, WBO, and IBF 175-pound titles.

After the fight, Beterbiev’s promoter, Bob Arum of Top Rank, indicated that he will be discussing the particulars of that matchup with Saudi Arabia’s Turki Alalshikh, the deep-pocketed powerbroker who has been responsible for producing some of the most high-profile boxing cards in the past six months, including the upcoming undisputed heavyweight championship between Tyson Fury and Oleksandr Usyk next month in Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia.

Arum was optimistic that a fight between Beterbiev and Bivol could be made for the summer. Bivol’s promoter, Eddie Hearn, said that they have already agreed to a deal to fight Beterbiev and that the ball is now simply in the court of Alalshikh.

In a press conference held after his win over Smith, Beterbiev shrugged off any suggestion that a fight with Bivol was imminent, saying he had not been advised by his organizers that the fight had been given the greenlight. Beterbiev also took aim at Bivol for indiscriminately talking about fighting him for the past four, five years, which, to Beterbiev, reeked of cheap publicity.   

“He talk always like this,” Beterbiev said.  “Last five years, or four years, he tell everyone that he gonna fight next fight with me. Now he says—I have fight, [in the] next two weeks, and he says he already signed with me a contract. How can he sign a contract with me? Because I have another fight. He’s a real boxer you know.

“It’s always like this, with boxers,” Beterbiev quipped.

Efforts to negotiate a Bivol vs. Beterbiev fight have been stymied by boxing politics. Their respective promoters, who have their own content output deals with rival broadcasters, rarely do business with each other.

The emergence of Saudi Arabia in the past year as a backer of high-profile boxing events has somewhat changed the overall business partisanship of the sport. In December, Alalshikh brought together bitter rivals Hearn and Frank Warren to cooperate on a show that ended up featuring Anthony Joshua and Deontay Wilder in separate fights. Hearn and Warren will be working together on another show in the region in March, when Hearn’s ace client, Anthony Joshua, goes up against former UFC champion Francis Ngannou.

Sean Nam is the author of Murder on Federal Street: Tyrone Everett, the Black Mafia, and the Last Golden Age of Philadelphia Boxing