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Bivol beats Castillo, wants Canelo-Kovalev or Beterbiev-Gvozdyk winner

Artur Beterbiev Canelo Alvarez Sergey Kovalev

By Allan Fox: Dmitry Bivol successfully defended his WBA light heavyweight title with a 12 round unanimous decision win over Lenin Castillo last Saturday in front of a large crowd of 9,073 at the Wintrust Arena in Chicago, Illinois.

Castillo made it hard for Bivol to look good with the left hand counters he was catching him with the entire fight. Although Bivol, 28, did most of the punching, Castillo was able to hit him with counter shots that kept him from looking good. Bivol knocked Castillo down in the 6th, but was unable to finish the job.

After the fight, Bivol said that he wants to take on either the winner of the Saul Canelo Alvarez vs. Sergey Kovalev or the Artur Beterbiev vs. Oleksandr Gvozdyk fights.

Bivol: I want Gvozdyk vs. Beterbiev or Canelo vs. Kovalev winner

“I want to fight the winner of Gvozdyk-Beterbiev or Canelo-Kovalev. I can fight them now because I won today,” said Bivol. “Why can’t I get the winner of Gvozdyk-Beterbiev? We are in the same division.”

Bivol’s best chance of fighting a unification match would be against the winner of next Friday’s unification fight between IBF 175-lb champion Beterbiev (14-0, 14 KOs) and WBC champion Gvozdyk (17-0, 14 KOs). Those fighters want to win more belts, and be involved in unification matches.

If Canelo Alvarez beats the aging 36-year-old WBO light heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev on November 2, he’s very likely to vacate the WBO title without defending it or taking part in unification matches. It’s believed by many that the only reason Canelo is moving up to 175 is because he sees Kovalev as being a vulnerable fighter now due to his advanced age, and he wants to take his title away from him.

When/if Canelo does that he’s not going to stick around and take part in risky unification fights against Bivol or the Beterbiev-Gvozdyk winner. If Canelo thought he could beat those guys, he likely would have gone after them instead of Kovalev.

Bivol enjoys fighting in 175-lb weight class

“Yes, everyone in the light heavyweight division is bigger than me, but I like this division because they’re a lot of good fighters,” said Bivol at the post-fight news conference last Saturday following his victory over Castillo. “I feel comfortable at light heavyweight. What about knockouts? My favorite fighters are Sugar Ray Leonard, Roy Jones Jr. and Muhammad Ali.

“I like to watch their fights to see how they move, and show their defense. I like boxing because if you haven’t enough power, you can win [beat] someone. If you don’t have enough speed, you can use your movement and power.

This is boxing, and this is smart sport. You can win the fight with your brain. Of course, I want to go inside the ring and beat my opponents with a first round, and knock them out. But it’s not the best way for me, because I’m not a puncher like Mike Tyson. I’m a boxer. I use my legs and my brain to get a win, and a lot of people in the world can fight with their brain,” said Bivol.

The decision Bivol has made to compete at 175 instead of 168 could come back to haunt him in the near future when he fights one of the top guys. Bivol would be considered the underdog against Beterbiev and Gvozdyk. Kovalev, as depleted as he is now, would be a risky fight for Bivol. Even the 5’8″ Canelo might be too much for Bivol. Career-wise, it might be a better move for Bivol to move down to 168 rather than sticking it out at 175, and losing repeatedly against the top dogs.

Dmitry Bivol explains why he fights conservatively

“Of course, I want to give a good fight for boxing fans, but if I listen to fans, I can lose,” said Bivol. “I have to listen to my coach, who told me, ‘You have to be patient. Don’t lose your concentration, and you have to box like you can. You have to keep your belt to get a bigger chance for a big fight for who really wants to give a good fight against you.

“When I was a challenger, I wanted to be on TV. I wanted to be the champion. I was aggressive, and I wanted to get the belts. But now I’m a champion, and I don’t understand why my challengers don’t want to get my belt. They just want to spend the time in the ring with me,” said Bivol.

Bivol’s boxing ability is quite good, but it’s not always thrilling to watch for some fans. He did his job in beating Castillo by the scores 120-107, 119-108 and 119-108.  It would have been better if Bivol had loaded up on more of his shots towards the end of the fight, but he chose not to. He had a huge lead on the scorecards, and he would have afforded to fight aggressively, but he didn’t. The fans responded as one would expect by booing Bivol loudly at the end of the fight.

Kornilov says why Bivol fought conservatively against Castillo

“Most fighters are like that,” said Bivol’s manager Vadim Kornilov, when asked if Dmitry will fight harder when he faces better opposition like Artur Beterbiev or Oleksandr Gvozdyk. “When there’s an opponent that wants to take his belt, it’s going to be a totally different fight. And if he fights Gvozdyk, Beterbiev or Canelo or whoever, these guys are going to come and try and win the fight. That’s going to be a completely different story.

“They’re going to engage, and that’s going to give Dmitry the opportunities to do what he does. And he does what he does in the fight all his life, I think. He’s been doing that since his first professional fight. Some people don’t realize that. They say, ‘Oh, Dmitry has lost confidence’ or ‘Dmitry’s not the same’ or ‘He’s not punching like he used to.’ No, he’s done this since his first sparring in the pros,” said Kornilov.

It doesn’t make a difference what excuse Kornilov has for why Bivol failed to fight all out. A lot of boxing fans still hated what they saw from Bivol’s performance, and they made sure they voiced their displeasure.

Bivol not knocking Castillo out doesn’t bother Kornilov

“For me as a fan, I love knockouts, but I hate a lot more when my fighters lose,” said Kornilov.  “So I don’t really care. The fans today, they’re not really disappointed with the Dmitry not knocking him [Castillo] out. A lot of those fans want to see Gvozdyk-Bivol, and that’s going to be a real fight and it’s going to be exciting. But I don’t think Gvozdyk is going to go passed [Artur] Beterbiev. I think he’s going to get knocked out in that fight. That’s when the fans are going to be disappointed, because their fighter.

“It’s not going to be a disappointment with their fighter not getting a win by a knockout. One of those guys are going to be on the ground. I mean, it’s a 50-50 fight, and it’s going to be a real fight, but for me, as Dmitry’s manager and part of his team, it’s more important that he wins every time. I hope he wins as many times a Floyd Mayweather, and becomes the biggest fighter in this era, and that’s what it’s about,” said Kornilov.

The fans do want to see Bivol fighting the winner of the Beterbiev vs. Gvozdyk fight, but it’s going to be tough for Dmitry when that happens.

Bivol is targeting Gilberto Ramirez for next February

“I hope it can be made, and I think it would be a better fight for me, because he was a champion at super middleweight,” said Bivol about Gilberto ‘Zurdo’ Ramirez. “I understand he wants to be champion again at light heavyweight, and he will try to do anything for victory.

“This fight I think will be great for boxing fans. If he wants to fight for my belt, I will be glad to give him a chance for my belt in my next fight in February. Why not?” said Bivol in making it known that he would be more than happy to defend his WBA title against Gilberto Ramirez.

Former WBO super middleweight champion Ramirez (40-0, 26 KOs) hasn’t fought since his 4th round stoppage win over Tommy Karpency last April. It’s looking like Ramirez won’t fight again for the remainder of 2019, which means he’ll have only fought once this year. It’s doubtful that Ramirez’s promoters at Top Rank will let him come off of a 10-month layoff to challenge Bivol for his WBA title next February.

Kornilov talks about fighters being reluctant to take certain fights

“He was in training, and we asked Ramirez for this fight,” said Kornilov. “He said in an interview that he wants to fight Bivol. We asked the matchmaker that we’ll fight Gilberto Ramirez this fight. Not as many fighters as you think want to fight whoever. It’s actually not true. Castillo didn’t have fights for a long time after Marcus Browne. It’s not that Castillo didn’t want to. The reason is not too many people want to fight Castillo.

“Most people don’t want to fight [Isaac] Chilemba. One guy Marcus Browne wanted to fight Pascal, and got knocked out. He had the opportunity to fight Bivol for a couple of million dollars. A lot of these guys don’t want to fight anybody. It just seems like they want to fight everybody. Gilberto Ramirez, we know him really well,” said Kornilov.

If Bivol can’t get any of the top guys to fight him, then he needs to move down to 168 and go after Billy Joe Saunders, David Benavidez and Callum Smith.

Gilberto Ramirez deserves a chance to fight for title says Bivol

“I know him, and he’s a good guy,” said Bivol about Gilberto. “We sparred with each other. I respect him as a person, and he’s a good boxer. This guy deserves the chance to fight for a belt in the light heavyweight division,” said Bivol about Ramirez.

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