By Sean Jones: WBA light heavyweight champion Dmitry Bivol should stay far away from fighting the winner of this Saturday’s unification match between IBF/WBC champion Artur Beterbiev and WBO champion Joe Smith Jr.
Those two are dangerous, and Bivol (20-0, 11 KOs) cannot afford to lose this year given the massive payday he’ll be getting in a rematch with Canelo Alvarez in December or May.
Canelo (57-2-2, 39 KOs) has made it clear that he wants to try and avenge his loss to Bivol, but he’s taking the sure-thing money fight against 40-year-old Gennadiy Golovkin first on September 17th before he risks his hide again.
In the meantime, Bivol needs to play it safe and not ruin his chances for a second fight with Canelo because if he loses, he won’t get that rematch. In other words, Canelo would have an excuse not to fight Bivol again.
The easy chip shot fight Bivol should take next while he waits for Canelo is against his WBA Joshua Buatsi.
That’s a fight that Eddie Hearn wants Bivol to take, and it’ll sell in the UK due to Buatsi being British. He’s a good fighter, but flawed and not well known by US boxing fans. British fans are familiar with Buatsi, so there’s money to be made for Bivol.
Beterbiev too risky for Bivol
“From a financial standpoint, I think the smartest thing for him to do is to fight either Joshua Buatsi or fight Gilberto Ramirez, who I’m assuming will be ranked #1 in the WBA rankings because he just beat Dominic Boesel, who was # 1, he’s #2, and Buatsi is #3,” said Keith Idec to The Volume about what Dmitry Bivol should do next.
“I think one of those two fights should be next for him [Bivol] because if I’m him, yes, you would want to be the fully unified light heavyweight champion, but let’s just say Beterbiev beats Joe Smith.
“Beterbiev is a dangerous fight, it’s a fight he could lose, right? So if he goes and fights Beterbiev and loses, then he’s probably not going to fight Canelo Alvarez again. I mean, you could do it, but it would take some of the shine off of that fight as well.
“I think the safer, smarter thing for him to do, if I’m him, I go fight Buatsi in England because I think he’ll get paid more to fight Buatsi than he would get to fight Gilberto Ramirez, who is somewhat of a draw and has been clamoring for a big fight for quite some time, mostly against Canelo, of course.
“If I’m Bivol, I take the trip over to London, fight Joshua Buatsi. I don’t see any way that Joshua Buatsi, based on what I saw against Craig Richards and what I’ve seen in previous fights against lower-level opposition, I don’t think Buatsi is capable of beating Dmitry Bivol.
“I see Eddie Hearn’s point in that you’ve pretty much protected this guy for quite some time against a relatively low level of opposition,” Idec said of Buatsi. “He took an incremental step up in opposition against Craig Richards, who gave Bivol a pretty tough fight.
“As we discussed last time I was on the podcast, probably won more rounds, not officially, against Bivol than Canelo did, but he did beat Craig Richards convincingly, I guess, to be fair.
“I thought he decisively won that fight. If he [Bivol] fights Buatsi in London, it’s a big event over there. Buatsi is undefeated, and he’s been groomed to get a title shot ever since he came out of the 2016 Olympics in Rio.
Buatsi good option
“That, for me, would be the sensible business move to make. Go beat Buatsi, wait for Canelo to fight GGG, and then whenever they want to make that fight [Canelo-Bivol II]whether it’s December or it’s early next year, then go make that rematch with Canelo, assuming Canelo beats Golovkin in the third fight,” said Idec.
“Yeah, it’s interesting. I agree that if Bivol fought Beterbiev or Smith, it would be a big risk,” said Chris Mannix.
“I don’t know about Smith. He already beat Joe Smith,” Idec said about Bivol’s one-sided 12-round unanimous decision win over Smith in 2019.
“It was hurt at the end of the tenth round. There was a tense moment there where if Joe Smith had ten or 15 more seconds, maybe he stops Dmitry Bivol because he was buzzed at the end of the tenth round, but otherwise, he was completely outclassed by Bivol.
“I don’t expect Joe Smith to beat Beterbiev, but I just wanted to make that point,” said Idec.
“Yeah, I agree. I wonder how much money would be on the table for a fight against Beterbiev? Maybe not a lot. Certainly not as much for a Canelo fight, that’s for sure because as significant of a fight as Beterbiev vs. Bivol is, it’s unmarketable in the US,” said Mannix about a match between Bivol and Beterbiev.
“Hardcore boxing fans know these guys [Bivol and Beterbiev] know these guts, but average fans do not,” said Mannix.
“You follow the money when it relates to the sanctioning organizations, and following the money would lead you to a Bivol-Canelo rematch,” said Idec about whether the World Boxing Association might order Bivol to defend against #1 WBA Gilberto Ramirez.
“I guess they [WBA] could do it theoretically. Sometimes, they come up with these wacky decisions that you couldn’t comprehend. Who knows? Maybe that’s wishful on the part of Golden Boy because he’s one of the few fighters they have, Gilberto Ramirez, who’s a valuable commodity.
“He should be ranked #1 by the WBA when they release their next rankings, but in their neverending quest to be confusing, their #1 contender isn’t necessarily always the mandatory contender.
“There’s no real criteria for what separates the mandatory contender from the contender.
“So again, they pretty much make it up as they go along, and while he [Ramirez] could be the #1 contender, he might not have mandatory status, which would then mean that he’s [Bivol] not forced to fight him next.
“Who knows, particularly with the WBA, who knows what they’re going to do? The WBA is so consistent and disruptive to what’s going on in the boxing business sometimes that even Mauricio Sulaiman, the president of the WBC, came out and condemned the WBA recently.
“He said, ‘We had an agreement in place to follow this set of rules where this organization would go first and this organization would go second. They just abandoned that. So now, everyone is coming in against it.
“It’s not just media types and fans, it’s the other sanctioning organizations that are condemning the WBA. One thing related to the Beterbiev-Bivol fight is the potential for that fight,” said Idec.
Peterbiev vs. Bivol belongs in Russia
“The place where that fight belongs is in Russia because Bivol has lived in Russia since he was a child and Beterbiev is from Russia,” said Idec. “You can’t have the fight in Russia now because of the WBA, they wouldn’t sanction it.
“As long as that war in Ukraine continues, you can’t have that fight where it belongs. I think it would be a big fight in Russia because it’s two undefeated world champions from Russia fighting each other. Put that fight [Beterbiev vs. Bivol] in Moscow, and it would do big business but that’s not an option right now.
“So like you said, where would you put it in the US where it matters because like you said, [Oleksandr] Gvozdyk vs. Beterbiev, I was ringside for that fight in Philadelphia. It was at Temple University’s basketball arena, which is a relatively odd place for it to be,” said Idec.
“I was there too. It was a small crowd, to say the least for what was a great fight between two top-level light heavyweights,” said Mannix. “So it might behoove them [Betebriev and Bivol] to wait to get the most money there [Russia].”