Artur Beterbiev vs Dmitry Bivol will likely take place in July after the former’s thrilling victory over Callum Smith.
The reigning IBF, WBO and WBC light-heavyweight champion knocked Smith down twice in the seventh round as he recorded yet another stoppage victory, maintaining his 100 per cent knockout ratio on Saturday night.
The 39-year-old remains on collision course with WBA champion Bivol, who has held his title for over six years, easing to victory over Lyndon Arthur in his latest defence in December in Saudi Arabia.
Saudi officials are eager to stage an undisputed title showdown between Beterbiev and Bivol having hosted some of the biggest fights in boxing last year with Tyson Fury vs Oleksandr Usyk taking place in Riyadh in February.
Beterbiev is a devout Muslim and has traditionally scheduled his fights around Ramadan, which is expected to begin on the evening of Sunday 10 March and conclude on 8 April this year.
While the Bivol fight has not been confirmed, Beterbiev’s promoter Bob Arum is confident it will go ahead in the summer months.
‘It’s not done yet. But absolutely we want to do it,’ he said.
‘Ramadan is coming. Ramadan ends some time in the middle of April so about three months after the end of Ramadan we’ll be ready to fight Bivol, probably in Riyadh.’
Beterbiev has cleaned house at light-heavyweight with Bivol now his prime target.
‘Yes, of course,’ Beterbiev said when asked if he wants Bivol next. ‘I need a fourth belt. It would mean a lot to me.
‘It’s the top,’ he added. ‘It would mean in this category I have done work.’
Smith suffered just the second defeat of his career on Saturday night, admitting it was difficult to accept ‘not being the best’ after being left battered and bruised by the champion.
‘I am used to being the best and accepting I’m not is a hard one to take. But the better man one today. He stopped me getting any momentum,’ he told Sky Sports.
‘He is not the hardest to hit. He’s pretty readable. Whether he felt any [of my punches] I’m not too sure. But he’s world champion for a reason.’
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