The Saudis have made it possible for the dream match between WBA Dmitry Bivol and IBF/WBC/WBO light heavyweight champion Artur Beterbiev to happen for free ESPN in the U.S. and Canada on June 1st.
Promoter Bob Arum reports that His Excellency Turki Alalshikh is funding the dream match-up between Bivol (22-0, 11 KOs) and Beterbiev (20-0, 20 KOs) on June 1st on ESPN from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
This will make many fans happy, particularly the ones who have been paying to watch less-than-thrilling fights that have failed to deliver excitement. Bivol vs. Beterbiev should be an interesting fight for as long as it lasts.
Arum Explains the Deal
“It’s happening on June 1st. It’s a terrific fight, and the only reason it was able to happen is because the Saudis financed it,” said Arum to Fight Hub TV, discussing the Bivol-Beterbiev clash.
“You couldn’t do it on PPV, but it’ll be put on June 1st in Riyadh. We’ve arranged with His Excellency that the fight will be distributed on free television on ESPN in the U.S. and Canada,” said Arum.
Arum is correct that Bivol vs. Beterbiev couldn’t be put on PPV without it bombing badly, which could happen next month for the Keith Thurman vs. Tim Tszyu clash. That has PPV disaster written all over it.
The casual boxing fans in the U.S. and Canada haven’t been exposed to Bivol and Beterbiev for their fight to be sold on PPV. If they were seen more often and had a high social media presence, then possibly it would be a PPV-worthy clash.
The light heavyweight division traditionally isn’t a popular one, so it’s not unusual for the Bivol-Beterbiev fight to be for free.
However, as Arum points out, it wouldn’t be happening without the Saudis’ involvement because the money the promoters would have to pay out for the purses for this fight wouldn’t be covered by PPV.