RUSSIA has become quite the hotbed of light-heavyweights in recent times and Dimitry Bivol and Artur Beterbiev, a couple of undefeated destroyers with world titles to their names, are just the latest to emerge from that chilly neck of the woods.
Interestingly, their ascent coincides with the demise of another Russian, Sergey Kovalev, the former WBO light-heavyweight champion knocked out by Eleider Alvarez in August, yet it would be premature, at this stage, to suggest it’s a case of out with the old and in with the new.
Indeed, Bivol, a 27-year-old who defended his own WBA light-heavyweight title on the night Kovalev lost his, remains receptive to the idea of a passing of the guard fight between Russians, young and old, in the future.
“Yes, it was a surprise (Kovalev lost),” Bivol told Boxing News. “I thought he should be winning that fight. I was about 80% sure of that.
“When he lost, it was bad news for me. I didn’t expect that.
“We talked about our fight after Atlantic City, but he lost, and those plans fell apart. It would have been an interesting fight for people in Russian but also for people all over the world. It would have been a big fight.
“I think it can still happen in the future. We will see what happens after my next fight and after his rematch. I say every time that I want to fight against the best guys and he’s one of the best guys.”
In terms of Bivol’s immediate future, there is talk of a fight against Joe Smith Jr, which gets him particularly excited, as well as one against Badou Jack, though the Russian senses Jack is looking only for big-money fights at this stage in his career.
Another option, of course, is Artur Beterbiev, the IBF champion who fights Britain’s Callum Johnson on Saturday (October 8) in Chicago. Should he come through that, Beterbiev, a frightening puncher with 12 straight knockouts to his name, could be a viable option for Bivol, if not now then at some point in the future.
“He is one of the champions,” says Bivol, “and I think it will be a good fight. We’re both from Russia and it’s an interesting fight for Russian people.
“I’m not famous in the world. He’s not famous in the world. But if this fight happens, I will be glad. It will be a fight for two belts.
“I think we should wait, have more fights on TV, get more fans, and then this fight will happen eventually.
“Every time I go to the ring, I think I will win. You have to be confident. Of course, if I fight Beterbiev, I think I should be winning.”
It’s not just at light-heavyweight Bivol sees options. At super-middleweight, too, there are fights to his liking, fights that may one day become feasible given Bivol’s growing reputation and the ease with which he makes the 175-pound light-heavyweight limit.
“I feel comfortable at light-heavyweight, but I think I can make super-middleweight for a big fight,” he admits. “Not for a regular fight, but for a fight against a big name. I’d fight one of the guys who have a belt, sure.
“My weight is not a problem for me. You can see, I’m not a big guy. It helps me be happy before all of my fights. I can eat and think only about my fight. I’m not starving.”
Dmitry Bivol isn’t starving in a food sense, no. But, at 14-0 (11), and with one world title already to his name, he’s hungry to confirm his status as the best in the world – be it at light-heavyweight or a division down.