Eddie Hearn considers Callum Smith, Joshua Buatsi and Gilberto Ramirez the three legitimate options for Dmitry Bivol’s next fight.
Hearn still can’t understand, however, why Artur Beterbiev’s handlers didn’t exhibit immediate interest in making the most meaningful fight for both Beterbiev and Bivol next. Beterbiev told BoxingScene.com and other outlets after he stopped Joe Smith Jr. in the second round of their light heavyweight title unification fight June 18 at Madison Square Garden’s Hulu Theater in New York that he would welcome a showdown with Bivol later this year, but Hearn – whose company, Matchroom Boxing, promotes Bivol – stated during his most recent appearance on “The DAZN Boxing Show” that he never heard from anyone affiliated with Bob Arum’s Top Rank Inc., Beterbiev’s co-promoter.
“To be honest, we were ready,” Hearn told host Akin Reyes. “You know, I’ve said in many interviews before, you know, [when] Beterbiev beat Joe Smith, Top Rank should’ve been looking immediately at Dmitry Bivol, in my opinion. You know, that undisputed fight is there. It could happen at the end of this year. They’re talking about fighting Anthony Yarde in London [on October 29], Beterbiev. You know, I don’t know why there was no conversations for an undisputed fight, but it is what it is.
“Dmitry Bivol’s got lots of options, you know, not just Buatsi and Ramirez. … He wants to be undisputed. That’s every champion’s aim. And Dmitry Bivol against Beterbiev is a tremendous fight. I’d make Dmitry Bivol the favorite in that fight, but Beterbiev is a tremendous puncher, you know, extreme power. It’s just a brilliant fight. So, you know, we’ll see what happens. We’ll make that fight this winter for sure.”
With a full unification fight versus Beterbiev (18-0, 18 KOs) at least a fight away, Hearn has focused on matching the unbeaten Bivol against Buatsi or Smith in what would be an optional defense of his WBA light heavyweight championship.
The WBA has ordered Bivol (20-0, 11 KOs) to make a mandatory defense of his WBA belt against Gilberto Ramirez, but Hearn has inquired about the possibility of Bivol boxing Buatsi or Smith before the winner would need to meet Ramirez in a mandated match. Matchroom promotes Buatsi (16-0, 13 KOs) and Smith (28-1, 20 KOs), whereas Golden Boy Promotions represents Ramirez (44-0, 30 KOs).
The WBA respectively ranked Ramirez, Buatsi and Smith first, second and third in their most recent ratings of light heavyweight contenders, which were released last weekend.
Russia’s Bivol obviously wants a lucrative rematch with Canelo Alvarez, but the Mexican icon first must defeat rival Gennadiy Golovkin in their third fight, a 12-round super middleweight championship clash scheduled for September 17 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. If Bivol continues to win and Alvarez (57-2-2, 39 KOs) beats Kazakhstan’s Golovkin (42-1-1, 36 KOs) again in their DAZN pay-per-view main event, Alvarez likely will battle Bivol a second time next May 6.
“It was our intention to do Dmitry Bivol against Joshua Buatsi or Callum Smith next,” Hearn said. “The WBA ordered a mandatory, which we’ll see if there’s a time for a voluntary [defense] in between. But he will have to fight Gilberto Ramirez at some point, maybe even next. So, you know, Dmitry Bivol is focused on becoming undisputed, really, in the division, and also focused on another mega-fight with Canelo Alvarez. But he has to defend his belt in the meantime.
“And, you know, after his Canelo victory, he’ll be looking for a lot of money to do that, and he’s ready for all comers, whether that’s Joshua Buatsi, whether that’s Callum Smith, whether that’s Gilberto Ramirez, a Canelo Alvarez fight. You know, obviously Canelo’s gotta fight Triple-G first anyway on September 17th. But, you know, a Bivol-Canelo fight could take place in May of next year. But certainly, [Bivol will] have to have one, maybe even two fights before that date.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.