Artur Beterbiev remains hopeful that his next outing in the ring will be a full title unification of the light heavyweight division, even as his promoter is actively considering a different option.
Beterbiev, the Montreal-based Russian, added the WBO 175-pound title to his WBC and IBF versions last weekend with a rousing second-round stoppage of Joe Smith Jr. in their 12-round light heavyweight unification bout at the Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York City.
After the fight, Bob Arum, the head of Top Rank, which promotes Beterbiev, told BoxingScene.com that he expects Beterbiev’s next fight to be against the top challenger in the WBO rankings, Anthony Yarde of England. That fight, Arum said, will likely take place in London at the O2 Arena in October.
Marc Ramsay, the head trainer of Beterbiev, indicated that he was unaware of those plans, saying that nobody from Top Rank had approached anyone within Beterbiev’s inner circle about fighting Yarde. Moreover, Beterbiev himself said his preference is to take on WBA light heavyweight champion and fellow Russian Dmitry Bivol.
The likelihood of an undisputed fight is probably low, given that Bivol is promoted by Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Boxing, which has an extensive broadcasting deal with DAZN, the streaming platform. Conversely, Top Rank has its own deal with ESPN, meaning Beterbiev is exclusive to that network.
Arum told BoxingScene.com after the fight that he has no intention of letting Beterbiev fight on DAZN, citing what he feels is the platform's low visibility with consumers.
A member of Beterbiev’s team told BoxingScene.com Monday that while Top Rank has not formally tendered a deal for Beterbiev to fight Yarde, he expects the company to eventually put down several offers on the table.
“So obviously Bob Arum and Top Rank are doing what a promoter is supposed to do,” said Anthony Rudmans, a legal advisor to Beterbiev. “They are looking at potential fights for Artur.
“At the moment there is no official offer for an opponent that was proposed to Beterbiev and his team. And that’s not saying that there are no discussions between Top Rank and (Yarde's promoter) Frank Warren, but an official offer has not been presented to Artur.
“When the time comes, I’m sure Top Rank will reach out to Artur and his team and submit an offer. Top rank is certainly looking for various options. Bob Arum was clear on who he wants next for Artur. Artur’s trainer and his team will look at various options, at Bivol, at Yarde, and various other opponents and we will decide what’s best for Artur’s next fight.”
Rudmans reiterated that Beterbiev’s top desire is to fight Bivol for all four major titles. Arum suggested that one way for that to happen is for Hearn to allow Bivol to fight on ESPN airwaves. To that end, Rudmans expressed optimism that he believes the undisputed fight can be made on ESPN.
“At this point the only thing I can say is that Artur’s objective is to unify the division,” Rudmans said. “Hopefully it’s gonna be the next fight or hopefully in the near future. If that fight can’t happen on DAZN, I’m sure there’s a way to make it happen on ESPN.”