While the plaudits continue to come in for last night’s terrific, better than expected rumble between Artur Beterbiev and an immensely game Anthony Yarde, fans as well as experts are equally busy looking to the future. Beterbiev – who it could be argued had to dig deeper than ever before in compiling his now 19-0 record, his 100 percent KO percentage still intact – wants the fight we all want: one with rival 175 pound champ Dmitry Bivol.
Beterbiev said so at the post-fight presser, and this of course came as great if not too surprising news; we all know Beterbiev wants the best fights, the biggest fights – and more titles. A four-belt unification showdown between the two mighty Russians would be, well, massive. But this fight will not come next for either man, nor will it likely come this year.
As has been reported, the plan for Bivol, the reigning WBA light-heavyweight champ, is to fight Canelo Alvarez in their rematch, this down at 168 pounds. That fight is pencilled in for September, with Canelo set to fight John Ryder first, in May. In theory, Bivol, 21-0(11) could fight Beterbiev as he waits for Canelo, but this seems hugely unlikely. It will be interesting to see who Bivol does fight next as he waits for the Canelo return, or might Bivol surprise us all by not having any fight before September? That would also be a shock.
So who might Beterbiev fight next? ESPN.com suggests it’s entirely possible Beterbiev will be ordered to defend his WBC belt against mandatory challenger Callum Smith next. So perhaps Beterbiev could be coming back to the UK for his next fight? We will have to wait and see how things pan out, but last night, 38 year old Beterbiev again showed us all why he is one of the most exciting as well as the most dangerous fighters out there.
Yarde, now 23-3(22) bounced some hefty shots off Beterbiev’s chin, while he also inflicted a small cut on the defending champion. But Beterbiev, barely flinching, this in what could be described as his toughest ever fight, just fought back harder, stronger. We have here a light-heavyweight champion who is seemingly forged from some kind of iron. Let’s leave it to Bob Arum, who has seen it all, done it all, to describe last night’s early candidate for Fight of the Year:
“That was one of the greatest light-heavyweight battles I’ve had the privilege of watching,” Arum said. “Artur Beterbiev is a true master of his craft. I favour him over anyone in the division.”
As special as Bivol is, Beterbiev is the pick here also when it comes to which man walks away with all the 175 pound belts. But if last night’s fight was a thriller, how super-special could a Beterbiev-Bivol clash prove to be?