The president of Top Rank Todd duBoef has admitted that the intervention of Saudi Arabia is what has allowed the light heavyweight unification fight between Artur Beterbiev and Dmitrii Bivol to take place with the fighters close to their primes.

Beterbiev, who holds the WBC, WBO and IBF belts, and Bivol – the WBA champion – went face-to-face in London yesterday to formally announce their June 1 superfight in Saudi Arabia.

When the fans call for years to see fights that never happen, now they can happen where His Excellency [Turki Alalshikh] and the Kingdom [of Saudi Arabia] is helping facilitate these dream match-ups,” said duBoef. “Unifying the heavyweight title for the first time [in the four belt era] [firstly with Tyson Fury facing Oleksandr Usyk on May 18], seeing two of the great light heavyweights in the last decade finally go [two weeks later], contrasts of style – I love it.” 

Beterbiev-Bivol has been at the top of boxing fans’ wishlists. Beterbiev is 20-0 (20 KOs) and 39-years-old, but it did not look like he had lost a step with a commanding win over Callum Smith in January.

Bivol is 22-0 (11 KOs) and outboxed Lyndon Arthur and coasted to a steady 12-round win over the Mancunian in December. 

While duBoef would not say whether the dream fight would have ever happened with the influence of Saudi Arabia, he thinks it is happening now because of the wishes of the Kingdom and Turki Alalshikh. 

I don’t want to say yes or no, because I don’t know,” duBoef said, when asked whether the fight would have happened anyway. “A lot of it is expectation, it’s what their expectations are, and when there isn’t the opportunity for, ‘Hey, how can we facilitate it? We all come together, roll up our sleeves, sharpen our elbows and figure out how we can split and divide and conquer, and bring it to the place’. 

“Obviously they’re helping facilitate that much easier and quicker, so we’d have to weigh with the expectations of where both guys are, but it couldn’t have happened on this timeline without their help.”