Russian WBA light heavyweight champion, Dmitry Bivol, was quizzed on the upcoming bout between his long-time rival, Artur Beterbiev, and Briton, Callum Smith. Beterbiev and Smith are scheduled to lock horns in Quebec on August 19, 2023. Smith is Beterbiev’s mandatory challenger for his WBC belt, but the fight will also be for his WBO and IBF light heavyweight titles.
It's fair to say Beterbiev goes into this fight with a supreme record. In his 19 professional bouts, the Russia-born Canadian has won by knockout in every single one. That record alone is why the sportsbooks heavily side with Beterbiev retaining his belts this summer. DraftKings Sportsbook have Beterbiev priced as the -370 heavy favorite, with Smith the +270 underdog. The former daily fantasy sports brand has since expanded into real-world sports betting markets and most boxing fans take note of their moneyline markets these days. There is a two-stage DraftKings Sportsbook promo code open to first-time users thinking of wagering on the Beterbiev-Smith bout here.
One man that could have a say either way is Bivol, who described the Beterbiev-Smith match-up an “interesting fight”. Instead of trash-talking to iFL TV, Bivol was honest enough to admit his long-time rival has “more chance” than Smith as he is “more powerful and skilful”. However, Bivol acknowledged Smith was “not an easy opponent” for anyone in this weight division due to his stiff defence and stamina.
Will Smith’s light heavyweight inexperience prove the difference?
An area where Smith could be found lacking against Beterbiev is his lack of rounds at light heavyweight level. Smith is a former super middleweight world champion and was only enticed up to light heavyweight to fight Canelo Alvarez in 2020. In fact, his loss to Alvarez is the only one of his 30-fight professional career.
As for Beterbiev, he was pushed all the way by Smith’s compatriot, Anthony Yarde, in London in January. Following a high-octane encounter, Yarde was eventually stopped in the eighth round after his corner threw the towel. Beterbiev came within a whisker of being beaten after a devastating fifth round from Yarde, but Beterbiev’s punch power eventually pulled him through.
An undisputed clash between Bivol and Beterbiev still seems a long way off
Smith will be Beterbiev’s eighth defence of his light heavyweight titles. Even victory over Smith is unlikely to mean an undisputed fight with Bivol will happen any time soon. According to Beterbiev’s promoter, Bob Arum, the WBC’s ongoing sanctions against Russian fighters means a deal at the negotiating table cannot be done. Arum even praised the “principles” of WBC president, Mauricio Sulaiman, and insisted he wouldn’t “push” for the fight to be made.
As for Bivol, options for his next opponent appear slim. His next challenger is almost certain to be a Brit, with the number-one and number-two ranked WBA challengers – Joshua Buatsi and Dan Azeez – coming from the UK.