A showdown between Artur Beterbiev and Dmitry Bivol for the undisputed light heavyweight championship may happen someday—but it certainly will not happen before Canelo Alvarez gets his chance to even the score with Bivol, according to their promoter Eddie Hearn.

Hearn, the head of Matchroom, which handles both Alvarez and Bivol, has repeatedly insisted that he is open to exploring the 175-pound unification fight with the promoter of WBC, WBO, IBF champion Beterbiev, Top Rank, but a scenario that he will not countenance is one that will require Alvarez to move off his usual September fight date to accommodate Beterbiev-Bivol during the same period. That means that Beterbiev-Bivol would likely have to take place in 2024, assuming the fighters’ respective organizers can actually come to an agreement.

Alvarez has been looking to even the score with Bivol ever since the undisputed 168-pound Mexican superstar dropped a decision to the Kyrgyzstan-born, Russian native last spring in Las Vegas in a 12-round light heavyweight bout for Bivol’s WBA title. Alvarez, who traditionally fights twice a year, is expected to return to the ring against London’s John Ryder in the spring, followed by Bivol in the fall.

In a recent interview, Hearn was asked if Alvarez would be willing to allow the boxing world to determine an undisputed champion at 175 later this year first, that is, before Alvarez gets his opportunity to fight Bivol again, and Hearn summarily shot down that suggestion.

“Canelo wants revenge, with all due respect,” Hearn said on the DAZN Boxing Show.

“No. No. No,” Hearn added, in response to the question.  

“At the end of the day, Canelo Alvarez wants revenge against Dmitry Bivol,” Hearn continued. “Like I said, we’ve got a lot of irons in the fire here where we have to do what’s best for a number of fighters, you know. Beterbiev-Bivol is one of the best fights in boxing.”

Hearn believes Bivol is the man to beat at 175, even if Beterbiev happens to have more belts. Beterbiev is coming off a spirited eighth-round stoppage of his mandatory challenger Anthony Yarde last Saturday in London.

“Make no mistake, make no mistake, the best 175-pounder in the room right now is Dmitry Bivol,” Hearn said. “Unquestionable. … Of course, it’s my opinion. I don’t care if he’s (Beterbiev) unified, I’m telling you who’s the best. It’s Dmitry Bivol. I rate Artur Beterbiev, he’s a brilliant fighter to watch. So exciting.”

A Beterbiev-Bivol fight would be difficult to put together, in any case, because it would require Top Rank and Matchroom to come together on a number of corporate issues, the most pressing of which concerns the broadcaster for the potential matchup; Top Rank is obliged to showcase its talent on ESPN, while Matchroom has its own extensive output deal with DAZN. Bob Arum, the head of Top Rank, has made it long clear that Beterbiev-Bivol can only happen if ESPN gets to air it. In addition, Bivol could earn a potential career high payday against Alvarez, the cash cow of boxing, whereas Bivol's purse against Beterbiev would be far less remunerative.

Hearn has been lobbying for his light heavyweight charge Callum Smith to fight Beterbiev next. Liverpool’s Smith, a former 168-pound titlist, is the mandatory for Beterbiev’s WBC title. Hearn has floated the possibility of staging Beterbeiv-Smith in Smith’s hometown, depending on the kind of deal he can strike with Top Rank. That fight could take place at the end of the summer.

As for Alvarez, Hearn said he is already planning Alvarez’s career for 2024.  

“Like I said, Canelo’s plan is to fight John Ryder and Dmitry Bivol,” Hearn said. “I spoke with Eddy Reynoso last night. We’re looking at possible venues, obviously there are other fights for Canelo Alvarez. We’re planning with Eddy and Saul [fights for] this year and next year. Obviously, you have [Caleb] Plant-[David] Benavidez [168-pound bout] coming up. I know Edgar Berlanga is making a lot of noise. If he can get a couple of big wins, I think that’s a big fight against Canelo Alvarez as well. The priority is May against the mandatory John Ryder and moving towards Dmitry Bivol for undisputed at 168.”