Assuming Turki Alalshikh completes a deal with Artur Beterbiev’s promoter, Dmitry Bivol expects his undefeated light heavyweight rival to give him the most difficult fight of his career later this year.

The unbeaten Bivol believes Beterbiev is better than his most accomplished opponent to date, Canelo Alvarez. The four-division champion was a 4-1 favorite to beat Bivol, but Russia’s Bivol boxed at an elite level and definitively defeated Alvarez in their 12-round fight for Bivol’s WBA 175-pound championship in May 2022 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

Bivol (22-0, 11 KOs) didn’t hesitate to acknowledge the Beterbiev bout will be more challenging than his fight with Alvarez during an appearance on promoter Matchroom Boxing’s podcast.

“Yeah, to be honest, I believe that it’s the hardest test,” Bivol told host Jamie Ward during an episode released Sunday on Matchroom’s YouTube channel. “Why? Because he’s stronger. I know he’s physically stronger than Canelo and he has good technique, too. Many people talks about his power, but they forget about his technique, because his power is too much better than his technique. But he still has good technique.”

Beterbiev (20-0, 20 KOs) displayed power and technique while dismantling former WBA super middleweight champion Callum Smith in his most recent fight January 13 at Videotron Centre in Quebec City, Canada.

The Russian-born, Montreal-based Beterbiev became the first fighter to drop and stop Smith as an amateur or as a pro. Buddy McGirt, Smith’s trainer, entered the ring and instructed referee Mike Griffin to stop their 12-round fight as soon as Smith went down for the second time during the seventh round of a main event ESPN televised.

Liverpool’s Smith (29-2, 21 KOs) had lost only a unanimous decision to Alvarez (60-2-2, 39 KOs) in their 12-round, 168-pound title bout before Beterbiev beat him. Alvarez defeated Smith by big margins on all three scorecards in December 2020 at Alamodome in San Antonio.

Once Beterbiev stopped Smith, Bob Arum – whose company, Top Rank Inc., promotes Beterbiev – stated his intention to finalize Beterbiev’s side of the deal with Alalshikh for the IBF/WBC/WBO champion to battle Bivol sometime this summer at Kingdom Arena in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Alalshikh is chairman of Saudi Arabia’s General Entertainment Authority, which has provided the financial backing for many of the biggest, most expensive fights in boxing over the past several months.

Arum expects Beterbiev-Bivol to be scheduled for approximately three months after Ramadan, so that Beterbiev can complete a full training camp after recovering from the Muslim month for fasting, prayer, reflection and community. Ramadan is scheduled to end April 9.

Matchroom’s Eddie Hearn, whose company works with Bivol, revealed recently that Bivol has already agreed to contractual terms with Alalshikh for a fight with Beterbiev. Bivol, 33, is well aware of the type of grueling fight he’ll have to endure versus Beterbiev, who turned 39 on Sunday, if they finally fight to crown the first fully unified light heavyweight champion of the four-belt era.

“First of all, he’s strong,” Bivol said. “He’s very strong. He’s like stone, you know? His punches is very hard and his body is hard. And then, he believe in himself a lot. And he has experience, a lot of experience. If you see on his record, yeah, it’s not too much fights for pro. But he has a big, a lot of experience in amateur. It helps him. And what else? He uses body shots with the right hand. It’s [a] good body shot. And he’s strong. This is one of the important things.”

Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.