Dmitry Bivol could be left wondering just when a marquee fight will land, much like Gennady Golovkin did for a stretch before luring Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez into the ring.
Many expected him to astonish in Saturday’s WBA World Light-Heavyweight Title defence against old stager, Jean Pascal.
Fans anticipating something special had to be content with a comfortable points win and were right to expect more from Bivol.
Technically he was solid, never extended himself, but now has a strong name on his record with Pascal being a former World and Ring Magazine Champion.
If TV execs were expecting him to deliver a performance drawing comparisons to fellow Russian Sergey Kovalev's early title performances, they were left somewhat disappointed.
That doesn’t mean he isn’t effective, however, and could easily mix it with the other title holders at 175lb.
Like all Champions, Bivol wants unification fights and to stake his claim as the best Light-Heavyweight boxer on the planet.
Unless he can get all-Russian showdowns with IBF title-holder Artur Beterbiev or Kovalev, he faces a frustrating wait.
GGG didn’t have serious challenges for much of his Middleweight reign. Bivol has that and more, but the Champions and name challengers all appear to be going in different directions.
Beterbiev is still recovering from his shoot-out against Callum Johnson and won’t be back until February or March, with Joe Smith slated as a possible challenger.
That could leave the door open to a clash in the second half of 2019, and the most realistic unification.
WBC Champion Adonis Stevenson looks a certain no go. He defends his belt on Saturday against Ukrainian Oleksandr Gvozdyk.
Stevenson, 41, is now at an age where he fights no more than twice a year and will surely think of cash before glory on the final run of his career.
Any time any place @bivol_d 👊🏿— Badou Jack (@BadouJack) November 25, 2018
Badou Jack is number one contender for Bivol, but looks sure to face Stevenson in a rematch following their draw in May.
It’s far more lucrative for either than facing Bivol, and it’s no exaggeration that Stevenson and Jack will be more confident of winning against each other than they would defeating Bivol.
Colombia’s WBO boss Eleider Alvarez has a rematch in early 2019 against Kovalev, who he defeated in seven rounds back in June.
If Kovalev is beaten for the fourth time in six fights that will surely end any hope of him being lined up or taken seriously as a threat to Bivol even though they are both promoted by Main Events.
Alvarez is desperately chasing Stevenson as his first choice unification, but has mentioned Bivol. He will not fight Beterbiev as they have the same trainer.
Bivol may well have to bide his time in order to stake his claim as the king at Light-Heavyweight. The division knows right now he is high-risk, low-reward. For fighters like Bivol, remaining patient will be tougher than any opponent.