Dmitry Bivol will now defend his WBA light heavyweight belt against top-ten-ranked contender Lyndon Arthur on December 23rd in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
Bivol, 32, had been planned to face Richard ‘Popeye The Sailor Man’ Rivera on the December 23rd card, but that’s no longer happening. It’s unknown why Rivera has been replaced, but it could be that Arthur works better to increase interest from British boxing fans.
Rivera isn’t well known in his own country in the U.S., so it’s better for Bivol to face Arthur. This is potentially a risky fight for Bivol because Arthur is a tough cookie with excellent boxing skills, power, and toughness. Arthur is not going to roll over like Canelo Alvarez or Gilberto Ramirez did in their fights against Bivol.
Dan Rafael is reporting that #7 WBA, #9 IBF Arthur (23-1, 16 KOs) will be the opponent for the undefeated Bivol (21-0, 11 KOs) to fight on the undercard of Anthony Joshua vs. Otto Wallin & Deontay Wilder vs. Joseph Parker. The network hasn’t been listed, but it’s likely to be shown on DAZN.
Fans would like to see Bivol take on IBF, WBC & WBO 175-lb champion Artur Beterbiev next, but that fight will need the cooperation of the World Boxing Council and Top Rank for it to happen.
Beterbiev also has a title defense that he still needs to get out of the way on January 13th against the dangerous puncher Callum Smith in Quebec City.
If everything goes right with the two champion’s upcoming fights, we could see them meet in the first half of 2024. Again, the WBC & Top Rank will need to go along with the program.
It’s understandable why Beterbiev’s promoters might not be eager to make the fight happen because he’s getting up there at 38 and could be susceptible to Bivol’s boxing skills. Beterbiev’s lack of hand speed could put him at the mercy of Bivol, who is faster, more mobile, and a lot younger.
Bivol hasn’t fought since last year in November when he defeated former WBO super middleweight champion Gilberto ‘Zurdo’ Ramirez by a twelve round unanimous decision in Abu Dhabi.
Lyndon Arthur is an excellent fighter who has won his last four fights since losing to Anthony Yarde by a fourth round knockout in their rematch in December 2021 in London. A year earlier, Lyndon had beaten Yarde by a twelve round split decision in a war in December 2020.
Arthur’s recent wins:
Braian Nahuel Suarez – KO 10
Boris Crighton – UD 10
Joel Mcintyre – TKO 2
Walter Gabriel Sequeira – TKO 6
Per source, Dmitry Bivol will still defend his WBA light heavyweight title on the Dec. 23 Saudi Arabia card but it will be against Lyndon Arthur. The deal with Richie Rivera was not finalized. #boxing
— Dan Rafael (@DanRafael1) November 14, 2023