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Arum explains why Dmitry Bivol not an option for Beterbiev vs Smith Jr winner

Image: Arum explains why Dmitry Bivol not an option for Beterbiev vs Smith Jr winner

By Charles Brun: Promoter Bob Arum says WBA light heavyweight champion Dmitry Bivol isn’t a big enough attraction for him to match against the winner of tonight’s 175-lb unification fight between champion Artur Beterbiev and Joe Smith Jr.

Instead, Arum has already decided to match the winner against Anthony Yarde. This British fighter is arguably even less well known to American boxing fans than Bivol.

The U.S fans that know of the 30-year-old Yarde remember him as the guy that the shot to pieces 36-year-old Sergey Kovalev knocked out in 2019.

Some would say that Arum is disingenuous by ruling out Bivol (20-0, 11 KOs) for the Beterbiev-Smith winner because he’s not well known to U.S fans.

Given how much publicity Bivol has received since his upset of superstar Canelo Alvarez on May 7th, he’s now well known to boxing fans in the states, and if the two were to fight a rematch, it would be a HUGE affair in the U.S.

Could it be that the real reason Arum doesn’t want to match the winner of tonight’s Beterbiev vs. Smith Jr fight against Bivol is that they’d likely lose to him?

We already saw Bivol embarrass Joe Smith in 2019, beating him like a drum for 12 one-sided rounds. Smith’s only success against Bivol was when he hit him after the bell in the tenth round. Smith arguably should have been penalized for that punch. Bivol came back and pounded Smith after that incident and had him on the verge of being knocked out in the 12th.

Arum is smart enough to know the likely result for Joe Smith Jr and Artur Beterbiev if he put them in with Bivol for the undisputed light heavyweight championship.

Hence, Arum will play it safe with the Smith vs. Beterbiev winner by having them defend against WBO mandatory Yarde (22-2, 21 KOs), who will have no chance against either fighter.

“Remember, I take with a grain of salt what the Ring Magazine or anybody else says in putting guys at #1 or #2. Who cares?” said Bob Arum to Frank Warren’s Queensberry Promotions when told that Ring Magazine has Dmitry Bivol rated as the #1 fighter at 175 in their rankings.

“Ultimately, I hope it’ll be decided in the ring, right?” Arum continued about the issue of who is #1 at light heavyweight, Bivol or Beterbiev. “Ultimately, Bivol will have his opportunity to fight the unified champion that has three belts, and he has one [WBA]. If not, not, you know?

“Again, Bivol may hold the WBA belt, but he’s hardly an attraction. The Canelo-Bivol fight died. Canelo is probably the biggest attraction in the United States at the box office, and that fight did terrible, as far as the gate standpoint and the pay-per-view standpoint because nobody knows Bivol,” Arum said.

What Arum fails to point out is that Bivol’s massive win over Canelo has made him famous in the U.S, and if the two were to fight again now, it would be a tremendous fight. How does Arum not know that?

It works to Arum’s benefit for the Beterbiev vs. Smith winner to fight Yarde rather than Bivol because he’s easy pickings. Yarde is little more than a British domestic level fighter who has already been exposed by a shot Kovalev and fellow Brit Lyndon Arthur.

“Do you understand that if a fighter fights his fights on, I call it ‘Dark zone [DAZN], nobody watches, and also, there’s nothing backing it up because if they fight on ESPN or if Haymon’s guys fight on Showtime, at least there’s a megaphone calling about the fight, the fighters?” said Arum.

“On DAZN, nobody buys, nobody subscribes to DAZN. It is the dead zone. Like I told [Devin] Haney when I signed Haney and he went to Australia to fight [George] Kambosos, which we showed on ESPN, ‘Welcome to the sunlight. You’ve been fighting in the dark [on DAZN],’ and I think it’s the same problem in the UK.

“How many people are going to watch if a fights on DAZN? Very few. Again, it’s very, very difficult where you have a streaming service where you only have one sport like boxing. Impossible. There’s not enough volume, and it’s not worth it.

“Now people say to me, ‘What about ESPN’s streaming service ESPN+?’ Well, go to it. You’ll see all kinds of sports 24/7 being shown that people can pick. So again, I wish the ‘Dead Zone’ people well, but to take a fight like Joshua and Usyk to bury it on the ‘Dead Zone’ does nobody any good,” said Arum.

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