"I May Fight Beterbiev In Summer 2024". Bivol Talks About Hiatus And Career Goals, Fight With Arthur And Canelo

Marina Magomedova
03 Dec 2023

On December 23 in Saudi Arabia, WBA light heavyweight champion Dmitry Bivol will fight against Lyndon Arthur. The British athlete, going on a four-fight win streak, will try to beat the Russian, who was recognized as the best boxer in the world last year, but has not entered the ring in the last 12 months.

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Dmitry Bivol
Dmitry Bivol

In an interview with Telecomasia.net, Bivol:

  • evaluated his opponent Lyndon Arthur;
  • talked about his meeting with Artur Beterbiev;
  • called Saul Alvarez a forgotten story;
  • stated his goals for his career;
  • recalled a dinner with boxing legends in Riyadh;
  • explained why Oleksandr Usyk is the favorite in the fight with Tyson Fury;
  • admitted that he didn't notice how the year 2023 passed.

- Dmitry, tell us how your life has changed after the victory over Saul Alvarez?

- It hasn't changed much. People started to recognize me more. They started treating me differently. Sometimes I like it, sometimes - not so much. It makes you think. They started bothering me more. It's nice to be recognized. But on the whole, I can't say that anything has changed much after the victory.

- Can you elaborate on your point about "it makes you think". I can hear a tinge of negativity.

Dmitry Bivol
When you achieve success, there are people who immediately want to share in your success. They start inviting you to events that are not relevant for your career, but important for somebody else's goals. So you start to think that they want to use you. There are some nuances, but they are minor.

You are often invited to all sorts of events and competitions, and they say: "We need it for this, and we need it for that". But often I have no time at all. They get offended. And you start to think: »You didn't invite me before I became a champion, and no one took offense. Why take offense when I am simply unable to do it?" Not because I don't want to be there, but I just don't have the time.

- Was it shocking to you that top boxers do not want to fight you?

- I can't say that they don't want to fight me. They do, they want to fight, but they have certain conditions. Everyone wants to take as much as possible. If a boxer enters the ring, he wants to earn the most and does not want to take unnecessary risks. There aren't many boxers who are willing to take risks for nothing. In terms of my career, I can't say that there are some top boxers who don't want to face me. There are no organizers who can meet the boxers' conditions.

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- Did Saul Alvarez seriously consider a rematch with you at some point?

- Honestly, I don't know. I think the boxing ego of a true champion was really pushing him towards a rematch. Personally, he probably wants it. But the Saul Alvarez project itself, his team, maybe they don't see any real reason to fight again. They've found other ways to evolve. And that's absolutely fine.

- The main contender for the Saul Alvarez fight is David Benavidez. Is he the man who can beat the Mexican?

- Absolutely. Of course he can. Benavidez is a good boxer, he's cool, tough. Why not?

Saul Alvarez vs. Dmitry Bivol
Saul Alvarez vs. Dmitry Bivol

- His father and coach said that he sees you as the most desirable opponent for his son.

- There has never been any negotiations with them. First of all, they are in the PBC (Premier Boxing Champions). This promotion has always been on its own. If you fight in the PBC, it's harder to arrange anything with you. Secondly, he wasn't my target because he's a super middleweight. He had the WBC title but he wasn't a big name. Now he is becoming a well-known and recognizable fighter. Our team has always had the desire to compete for titles.

- So there are two targets - Saul Alvarez and Artur Beterbiev?

- At the moment, it looks like it. And Saul Alvarez is a forgotten story. He's going his own way. You need to fight for the title in the light heavyweight division, and that's it.

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Dmitry Bivol
Dmitry Bivol

- What was your impression of Artur Beterbiev after the meeting in Saudi Arabia?

- Honestly, the same as it was. Nothing particularly new.

- During the staredown he said about you: "He only talks about fights, but never actually fights". What do you think about it?

- But he doesn't fight either. I'm not a fan of discussing things. When the time comes, we will go into the ring and everything will be clear. We'll talk in the ring.

- Is anyone avoiding anyone?

- In boxing, you always have to create tension between the fighters. "You're avoiding me, you don't want to fight me," but in fact little depends on the boxers. For example, maybe Saul Alvarez wants to spar, but his team won't allow it.

I want to, Artur wants to, but does Bob Arum (Beterbiev's promoter) want to? Has Eddie Hearn (Bivol's promoter) talked about it? He hasn't either. There is no agreement between them. All the talk about "avoiding, not avoiding" is for the audience. I don't like saying that someone is avoiding me.

Gilberto Ramirez said I'm avoiding him, I don't want to fight him so many times. How many times has Sullivan Barrera said that? It's all just words.

- German Titov is a promoter who has talked about wanting to make the Bivol vs Beterbiev fight. Another "summer 2024" date.

- Indeed, when we signed the contract with the RCC, one of our wishes was to arrange the fight with Beterbiev. And it was stated in the contract.

- Is the contract still valid?

- We need to confirm it. There was a clause in the contract that we will fight for titles, but there are no title fights in Russia now.

- The summer of 2024 and your fight with Beterbiev - is it just words?

Dmitry Bivol
Everything is possible. It's very much possible. But we shouldn't get ahead of ourselves. Because I still have to fight with Arthur on the 23rd, and Beterbiev has to beat Callum Smith. But it's more feasible than it was before.
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Dmitry Bivol
Dmitry Bivol

- And is it possible that both you and Beterbiev will not meet in the ring and will finish your careers without defeats?

- Of course, it is rare for boxers to end their careers without a defeat. I would like that, but I would like to test my abilities in big fights even more. And only then I would stop.

- What do you think about realizing your potential? Have you shown, proven, earned everything?

- No, I have not yet shown everything. I feel like I'm going up the ladder, and I'm not satisfied. I want the fights, I'm still hungry.

- In Riyadh, there was a whole bunch of other great boxers besides you and Beterbiev. Were there people among them that you've been cheering for since you were little?

- Sure. Sugar Ray Leonard, Mike Tyson, I've met all these people before. I could talk to many people. This was the first time I met Manny Pacquiao. Roy Jones is always nice, it warms my heart when I see him. When I was 12-13 years old, I really liked to watch his fights.

- You can probably talk to Roy Jones in Russian, too.

- Not yet, but he has a Russian vibe about him.

- I think Leonard or Tyson might not have recognized you at first meetings, but now...

- I was very happy that not only I was in the company of legendary boxers, but that everyone actually recognized me. They knew me as the best boxer of 2022, for my victories over Alvarez and Ramirez. It's nice to know I've earned my place among the legends.

Dmitry Bivol
Dmitry Bivol
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- Were there any interesting phrases or unexpected turns in the conversations?

- There were no such unexpected things. I sat next to Joe Calzaghe during the dinner of champions.

- Speaking about people who finished their careers undefeated.

- I talked to him, we chatted about life. What he does outside of the ring. It was interesting.

- Is it hard to find a life after boxing?

- Hard, yes. He confessed that it was hard to rebuild. Now he's got a gym and things to do outside of boxing. Something to do with real estate. He doesn't enjoy the new activities as much as he enjoys boxing. Still, he keeps going. Everything is alright.

Dmitry Bivol
Dmitry Bivol

- You have a fight against Lyndon Arthur soon. What do you think about the Briton?

- He is not so bad in terms of the world ranking. He is probably the best option currently available for December 23, because the other boxers are busy.

Is he a good fighter? Yes. I wouldn't call him a legend, but nevertheless, I'm telling myself that he's the strongest boxer in the world so I wouldn't slack off and train hard. He's an IBO champion. It's not the most prestigious organization, but he is worth something.

- When it comes to his qualities, does he have the punch of Deontay Wilder, the footwork of Ray Leonard or the combinations of Manny Pacquiao?

- He's a very uncomfortable boxer. He's not particularly active, but he counters well with his right. So he has a good counter punch. He is constantly defending with his left arm, and punches back with his right arm.

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- Would you call him your typical client?

- No, I wouldn't say he's my typical client. I don't even know who my typical client is, to be honest. Everybody is challenging in their own way. At this level, everyone has their strengths that make their opponents feel uncomfortable. It's a good fight for the current stage of my career.

- Will the fee be more than for the Ramirez fight?

- No.

- Does it bother you that you'll be fighting the third most important fight of the night?

- I started thinking about it as soon as people started asking me. I realized I'm not embarrassed at all. We had a date on DAZN on January 13th in Vegas, but we didn't even think about whether it was a main event fight or not. It just turned out that we're going to box on December 23. It's a good option.

Dmitry Bivol
Dmitry Bivol

- Will Callum Smith's victory over Artur Beterbiev be shocking to you?

- Not shocking, no. He can win. I'll be surprised a little bit. But a shock - no. I've been boxing for 26 years. I've seen so many surprises. The sensational and tragic event for me was Antonio Tarver's victory over Roy Jones. There was a sensation when Juan Manuel Marquez put the "lights out" on Manny Pacquiao. Tyson Fury's win over Wladimir Klitschko was a sensation. But in this fight I will not experience a shock.

- Is it related to Smith's strong traits or to Arthur's age?

- It is related to the fact that I would not be surprised by any outcome anymore. Smith is not the worst boxer, he has good amateur experience. His victory will not be as sensational as when Andy Ruiz beat Anthony Joshua.

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Artur Beterbiev vs Callum Smith is set for the night of January 14
Artur Beterbiev vs Callum Smith is set for the night of January 14

- What do you think of the head of the WBC, Mauricio Sulaiman, who called on you to renounce Russia? He cited Beterbiev and his Canadian citizenship as an example in his speech.

- I think he is a businessman. We have been in contact with him. If there is someone who will be ready to organize the Bivol vs Beterbiev fight, this is good. Mauricio Suleiman said that we need to settle a couple of formalities and everything will be fine. If he changes his mind, we will have to fight without the WBC title. But it is unlikely.

- Can you say how much time you spend now in Russia, in the USA and in other countries?

- This year I was in Russia for exactly six months. I was in the USA for a short time. I spent a few training camps in Kyrgyzstan because there were times when I thought I was going to spar. We were beginning to have a full camp. We were going to the mountains in Kyrgyzstan. Then my fight was canceled. I decided to heal my hand, I had surgery, then I recovered. I had to get in physical shape again. And we went to the mountains of Kyrgyzstan again.

Dmitry Bivol
Dmitry Bivol
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- Oleksandr Usyk and Tyson Fury did not perform well in their fights with Daniel Dubois and Francis Ngannou. Has the balance of power in their face-to-face confrontation changed after these performances?

- I have only seen the highlights of Usyk's fights, the discussions of the punch. I still don't have an opinion about it. I myself try not to hit people in the waist, I try to hit higher. I don't know if a punch to the waist in that fight counts as a low blow. I think it was a body blow, but the waist is wide. That's a question for the judges.

Concerning Fury. Given Tyson's lifestyle, I was somewhat surprised by his fight with Ngannou. He doesn't take training as seriously as many other boxers and so on. He is very talented but can underestimate his opponent. After the results of the fight, I had a feeling that Usyk is a clear favorite for the fight with Fury.

- Would it surprise you if Ngannou won the last fight?

- Yes. It would surprise me if they wanted to spoil the fight between Fury and Usyk.

- How do you see the outcome of the fight between Anthony Joshua and Deontay Wilder?

- I don't like to make predictions. If I didn't understand boxing, I would always try to guess the outcome. I don't like its because I know there are all sorts of variables.

Ngannou vs Fury
Ngannou vs Fury
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- Do you have anything to say to Lyndon Arthur right now to warm up the fight?

- Not at all. Right now I just want to lie down and rest. It's a spa day. I've been sparring all week. I don't feel like thinking about Lyndon Arthur right now. I've been working all week.

- Was it a tough year for you? The fights kept being canceled and you haven't been able to get in the ring.

- This year flew by very quickly for me. There were a lot of unplanned and unexpected events. My world turned upside down. Everything happened all at once: training, surgeries, my hiatus, this and that. I have only just started to realize that I haven't been fighting for a year. Everything flew by so fast. I can't say I've had a hard time waiting.

It was hard when I didn't box for a year and a half before the fight with Craig Richards. Everything was normal back then, nothing was happening - so I just sat there and waited. I was waiting for the fight and just sat there doing nothing. And this year just flew by.

- The fight with Richards was close. Your form and feeling of the ring got better, didn't they?

- Honestly, I don't know. I hope so. Do you know why athletes are superstitious? You can't help but start thinking about it. Sometimes you do everything perfectly, and everything goes great. You enter the ring and boom! You can't do damage, you're tired, you don't feel right. Why? You've been training properly. Then you remember, maybe it's because you washed your bandages. You start looking for signs. And sometimes it's the other way around. A person doesn't train, comes to practice, and just smashes everyone. So you start thinking, what is the reason? That's why I'm training. It seems like I'm doing fine.

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