Beterbiev backed to stop 'overrated' Bivol

Oleksandr Gvozdyk is backing Artur Beterbiev to beat the “overrated” Dmitrii Bivol should their proposed undisputed light heavyweight title fight take place on June 1.

Turki Alalshikh recently revealed that the Russians are set to fight for Bivol’s WBA title and Beterbiev’s of the WBO, WBC and IBF in Saudi Arabia.  

On Saturday at Wembley Arena, Joshua Buatsi defeated Dan Azeez over 12 rounds to earn the status of mandatory challenger to the WBA title, but his desire to fight Anthony Yarde – who on Saturday at the Copper Box Arena meets Marko Nikolic of Serbia – removes a further obstacle in the way of one of the world’s most essential fights at a time when Gvozdyk still believes Beterbiev will win.

Beterbiev’s 39 years meant that doubts surrounded him before he stopped Callum Smith in seven rounds in January, and Gvozdyk – of Ukraine, and who lost the WBC title to Beterbev in 2019 – told ProBox TV: “I would bet on Beterbiev. 

“I’ve never fought or sparred with Bivol, so it is hard to understand if he will be able to handle Beterbiev’s power. We were meant to fight each other in the final of the world championships in Kazan [Russia] in 2013, when I won the gold medal. He injured his hand or something; he had some fracture or something. I got the gold medal without a fight.

“Bivol has great footwork, but Beterbiev knows how to cut those angles very well. I think Beterbiev can hold him close to the ropes. If you watch Bivol-Canelo [Saul Alvarez] he holds Bivol against the ropes, but Beterbiev’s power is on another level. That’s where Bivol will get in trouble with Beterbiev, unless he can use his footwork to get out of trouble there. I think Beterbiev will be too much for him there.

“Last two years of his amateur career he was fighting at cruiserweight; he’s coming down a lot to make 175 pounds. I heard Bivol is not that big. This will play a huge role because Beterbiev will be bigger and stronger.”

Since Bivol’s most notable victory, against super middleweight ruler Saul “Canelo” Alvarez in 2022, he has defeated Gilberto Ramirez and Lyndon Arthur over 12 rounds. Beterbiev ’s stoppage of  Smith maintained his 100 per cent knockout ratio; he has previously also stopped Joe Smith Jr and Yarde. 

“He is a great fighter, but I personally think Bivol is overrated,” Gvozdyk continued. “He is good, don’t get me wrong. He is probably one of the best in the division right now, but people seem to think he is invincible. I don’t think so, I don’t think Beterbiev thinks so either. Soon we are going to see a very tough fight for Bivol. I favour Beterbiev, not like he is supposed to run him over. I think it will be an interesting fight, but I always think Beterbiev will win.

“If the fight was going to go the distance, I would probably edge it to Bivol, but I don’t think it will. This is how Beterbiev wins the fights – he stops people. When he was fighting with me and with [Anthony] Yarde, he was trailing on the cards, but then he just did the job. I think the same will be with Bivol.”