Artur Beterbiev moved to 20-0 with 20 stoppages this weekend against Callum Smith, clearing the path for a long-awaited light-heavyweight undisputed fight against Dmitry Bivol.
Beterbiev looked his destructive best against the Brit, who was pulled out by his corner in the seventh after suffering two knockdowns.
Now, the unified champion is expected to sign to face Bivol, who holds the WBA belt, in Saudi Arabia this year. Speaking on TalkSPORT’s The Verdict, George Groves praised both fighters and their respective styles.
“Beterbiev, once he lands, he has an affect. The question would be can he land on Bivol and does it have the same affect with everyone else he’s boxed? Bivol was exceptional against Canelo, when he gets his game-plan set up and he sticks to it. He boxed exquisitely well, but it’s a safety first approach from Bivol and you realise he hasn’t stopped anyone in a long time. years and years. He [beat] Lyndon Arthur out in Saudi recently, but I thought he would do a bit more of a demolition job on him. And if you put Lyndon Arthur in with Beterbiev, you’d think he’d just walk through him.”
The former super-middleweight world champion leans towards Beterbiev in the clash of relentless and powerful pressure against precision and movement.
“You have to have a really good jab to establish, create and maintain that distance with Beterbiev. If you don’t have that jab that keeps him busy, honest and at long range then he will eventually just march you back. Everytime Smith had his back on the ropes he was in severe danger … Bivol is much more comfortable boxing off the ropes, but I think Beterbiev’s the favourite. Maybe there’s recency bias there … I probably go with Beterbiev win, but I wouldn’t be confident on it.”
Any and all issues – including the WBC’s opposition to sanctioning Bivol as a Russian fighter – seem to have been cleared by Riyadh Season’s involvement, and the fight is expected to be announced soon.