Rust-ridden Dmitry Bivol will soon have a fight date, according to his promoter, Eddie Hearn.
The Russian WBA light heavyweight titlist has not fought so far this year, despite a noteworthy 2022, when he defeated Canelo Alvarez and Gilberto Ramirez.
A projected rematch with Alvarez never materialized, which has left Bivol looking like the odd man out, as far as the sport’s elite fighters are concerned.
But in a recent interview, Matchroom’s Hearn suggested that there is a strong chance that Bivol will either fight in December or, at the very latest, January. (Hearn’s previous forecasts had Bivol returning in September or October.)
Hearn's Matchroom is promoting two cards in the United States in December, the 140-pound title bout between WBC titlist Regis Prograis and Devin Haney on Dec. 9 in San Francisco, and a week later, the flyweight title unification between Sunny Edwards and Jesse Rodriguez in Glendale, Arizona. Hearn is also exploring a fight for Dec. 23 featuring Conor Benn against Chris Eubank Jr., but it is not clear where that will be held due to Benn's ongoing issues with the British Boxing Board of Control stemming from his two positive drug tests last year.
“We’re mulling over an international fight for Dmitry, actually on the same night as Haney,” Hearn told Boxing News. “We’ll see if that plays out. If not, he can still go December but maybe also very, very, very early January.
“But it’s still the frontrunner for him to get out in December.”
Vadim Kornilov, the manager of Bivol, indicated on his X account that a fight announcement for Bivol will soon be made.
Hearn said that while getting Bivol (21-0, 11 KOs) back in the ring as soon as possible is a top priority, he also made it clear that a potentially big opportunity is in the near offing.
Unified Russian champion Artur Beterbiev, who holds the WBC, IBF, and WBO 175-pound titles, will be defending his belts against England’s Callum Smith on Jan. 13 in Quebec City, Canada, Beterbiev’s adopted country.
Hearn said he would be confident about making the undisputed light heavyweight championship between Bivol and the winner of that January fight.
Of course, trying to make a full title-unification bout between Bivol and Beterbiev would be a difficult procedure rife with conflicting business politics, to say nothing of the real-world politics that would impede that match-up from materializing. Beterbiev is backed by Top Rank, a rival outfit that seldom does business with Hearn’s Matchroom.
The remedy for that is for Smith to end up defeating Beterbiev, as Smith is promoted by Hearn.
“It’s kind of like just waiting for the Callum Smith-Beterbiev fight,” Hearn said. “We feel like we can make the winner of that fight, particularly against Callum. If it’s Beterbiev, I think that fight can still get made. But we will fight this year, or worst [case], first or second week of January.”
“He’s not bothered,” Hearn said when asked about Bivol’s preference for an opponent. “That’s one of the problems. Dmitry Bivol is so good that any fight against anyone in the top-15 can be a little bit underwhelming. He needs to fight. He had a hand injury. He was ready to fight from November. We got to make sure we can get him out before that hopeful undisputed fight.”
Sean Nam is the author of Murder on Federal Street: Tyrone Everett, the Black Mafia, and the Last Golden Age of Philadelphia Boxing.