Dmitry Bivol Only Focused On ‘Zurdo’ After Canelo Win
Shortly after Dmitry Bivol won a clear decision over Canelo Alvarez to retain the WBA light heavyweight title in an upset in May in Las Vegas, Alvarez came to the post-fight news conference and vowed he would assert his right to an immediate rematch rather than return to super middleweight, where he reigned as the undisputed champion.
Ultimately, it was bravado. Alvarez instead elected to return to 168 pounds and defended the title against longtime rival Gennadiy Golovkin in their September trilogy fight, which was a bigger event than a rematch with Bivol would have been, not to mention a seemingly easier fight.
Bivol, however, said he was not at all disappointed by Alvarez’s decision.
“Maybe it’s the right decision for him and his team,” Bivol told Fight Freaks Unite. “He had a deal to fight me and Golovkin. (It made) business sense.
“For me it’s OK. I have my own road. I beat him and I am glad. I have to move forward. I don’t need this fight against Canelo. Maybe to earn money but it’s not the main thing. Of course, money is one of the main things but it’s not main, you know? If I think about only money I wouldn’t be here. For this fight I earn the same money like against Canelo.”
The fight Bivol is speaking of is his anticipated mandatory defense against Gilberto “Zurdo” Ramirez, a former super middleweight titleholder, who has won all five of his fights by knockout since moving up to light heavyweight in 2019.
Although Bivol’s team — promoter Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Boxing and manager Vadim Kornilov — tried to avoid the mandatory fight and instead take on a lesser opponent, Ramirez promoter Golden Boy pressed the issue with the WBA, which took Ramirez’s side and gave Bivol an ultimatum — defend next against Ramirez, who had won two eliminators in a row, or be relieved of the belt.
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Soon after that edict, the sides made a deal in August for one of the more intriguing fights of the year. It will take place on Saturday (DAZN, 1:30 p.m. ET) at Etihad Arena in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, where Bivol will make his 10th defense and Ramirez will seek to join Alvarez and the late Julio Gonzalez as only the third Mexican boxer to win a light heavyweight world title.
Bivol masterfully outboxed the smaller Alvarez but also stood and fought on the inside with him when necessary. Coming off that so-far career-defining victory, Bivol acknowledged that getting up for the fight with Ramirez has been more difficult than usual.
But he knows all about fighters such as Andy Ruiz, for example, who scored a big win over Anthony Joshua to take his unified heavyweight belts only to show up for a rematch in no condition, mentally or physically.
“It’s a little bit harder, yeah, because I spent a lot of emotion on the fight against Canelo and now I have to push myself and be focused and forget about Canelo and think about only Zurdo and I try to be focused,” Bivol said. “I try to be in my best shape against Zurdo. I understand I have to be focused for every fight. I try and I hope I will.”
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In Ramirez (44-0, 30 KOs), 31, a southpaw from Mexico, Bivol faces a far different style of fighter than Alvarez. Ramirez is a southpaw, he is taller and has a much longer reach than Alvarez.
“They’re really two different fighters except that they are both Mexican,” Bivol joked. “I think Zurdo will push more and try to use his size and try to punch my body more than Canelo, maybe. He has longer arms than Canelo.”
Bivol (20-0, 11 KOs), 31, of Russia, appears to have lived up to his words about putting the win over Alvarez behind him and focusing solely on Ramirez.
He arrived in Abu Dhabi on Sept. 27, more than a month before the fight, in order to complete his training camp and to make sure he acclimated to the time change and weather.
Bivol has had time to get comfortable in Abu Dhabi
“Abu Dhabi feels like home,” Kornilov said. “Everything that has been done for us, we don’t want to leave. It’s been very welcoming. It’s a pleasure being here and having camp here. Everything ran very smoothly, and I appreciate that very much.
“This fight has been cooking up some time. Back and forth conversations and talk and press. This Saturday night hopefully the fireworks will come for Abu Dhabi and everybody involved. I really hope it will be an exciting fight.”
Bivol, who besides Alvarez has defeated other notable opponents such as Joe Smith Jr., Jean Pascal and Sullivan Barrera, also said he hopes the fight with Ramirez will be crowd-pleasing and that he will rack up yet another successful title defense before looking to a potential rematch with Alvarez next year.
“I really had a big dream to win this belt and I don’t want to leave it,” Bivol said. “I will fight for this and I want to keep it. I want more. I feel I have something inside of me which I need to realize so I can be happy at the end of my career.
“I believe it will be an exciting fight. When people tell me that I have achieved everything it’s like they pour water on my fire. I try to only think about my dream, to realize my full potential. I try to be hungry and angry every time and be focused on training and my opponents. I try to think about how this Saturday night will be the hardest fight of my career. It makes me more focused on the night.”
There are also two other world title bouts on the card:
In the co-feature, the undisputed women’s junior welterweight title will be up for grabs. WBC/IBF titlist Chantelle Cameron (16-0, 8 KOs), 31, of England, will defend those belts against undisputed welterweight champion Jessica McCaskill with the vacant WBO and WBA 140-pound titles also at stake. McCaskill (12-2, 5 KOs), 37, of Chicago, a former unified WBC/WBA junior welterweight titlist, is moving down in weight looking to become a two-division undisputed champion.
Shavkatdzhon Rakhimov (16-0-1, 13 KOs), 28, a southpaw from Tajikistan, and Zelfa Barrett (28-1, 16 KOs), 29, of England, will fight for the vacant IBF junior lightweight title stripped from the injured Joe Cordina, who was unable to make a due mandatory defense against Rakhimov.