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Dmitry Bivol: I would fight Joshua Buatsi in UK


By Tim Royner: Dmitry Bivol says he’s willing to travel to the UK to defend his WBA light heavyweight title against Joshua Buatsi if he becomes his mandatory challenger. 2016 Olympic bronze medalist Buatsi (12-0, 10 KOs) is facing #8 WBA Blake Caparello (30-3-1, 13 KOs) on November 2 in a World Boxing Association 175-lb world title eliminator. If Buatsi wins, he’ll be the mandatory for Bivol.

Bivol (17-0, 11 KOs) says he prefers to fight one of the light heavyweight champions in a unification rather than defend against Buatsi. There’s more to gain for Bivol in fighting the winner of this Saturday’s unification match between IBF champ Artur Beterbiev and WBC champion Oleksandr Gvozdyk. Bivol also would like to fight the winner of the November 2 contest between WBO light heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev and Saul Canelo Alvarez.

Bivol willing to fight Buatsi in UK

“I like UK fans, because they love boxing. I would love to fight him [Buatsi]. Why not? He’s a good fighter, and he’s a bronze medalist in the Olympic games. If he’s mandatory, I would give him a chance, because he has a good name. Why not, yeah,” said Bivol when asked if he’d be willing to come to the UK to defend his WBA title against Buatsi.

“Yeah, I understand he’s getting to be one of the best light heavyweights, and I would like to give him a chance if I will not get a chance to fight for another belt. Of course, I prefer to fight for another belt. Everyone wants to move up, and not fight with the same like him or worse,” said Bivol.

Buatsi’s promoter Eddie Hearn has talked a lot about wanting to get him a world title shot, but he may not let him challenge Bivol just yet. Although there’s only two years difference in the ages of the 28-year-old Bivol and 26-year-old Buatsi, there’s too much of a wide gulf in skill level between the two. Buatsi relies too much on his power, and that’s only going to take him so far in the game. For him to beat the talented guys like Buatsi, he’s going to need to learn how to box. With the soft match-making being on Buatsi’s behalf, he’s not going to learn how to box.

Buatsi needs more experience

The more experienced Bivol has already beaten Jean Pascal, Sullivan Barrera, Joe Smith Jr., Isaac Chilemba and Felix Valera. In contrast, Buatsi’s best wins have come against Marco Antonio Periban, Renold Quinlan and Tony Averlant. Those guys are nowhere near the level of the fighters that Bivol has been fighting. It’s unclear whether Buatsi is good enough to beat Pascal, Chilemba, Smith Jr. or Barrera.

One or even all of those guys might beat Buatsi. In the 2016 Olympics, Buatsi was shutout by Kazakhstan’s Adilbek Niyazymbetov in a 3-0 loss. Buatsi looks like the same fighter now than he was back then. With the soft match-making done by Hearn, Buatsi hasn’t faced the quality opposition needed to improve his game. So he’s basically still the same fighter that dominated by Niyazymbetov.

Bivol likes Buatsi fight

“He every time negative,” said Bivol to IFL TV about his opponent Castillo’s defensive style of fighting. “Every time he would move back and try counter attack with right hand. I thought I got him [in round 6], but then I thought he would try and counter attack, because he didn’t lose his mind too much.

“He got the punch, and was knocked down, but he recovered fast. Yeah, why not? It’s a good fight, and he’s getting famous in the UK,” said Bivol when asked if he’d be interested in defending his WBA title against Joshua Buatsi next after he becomes his mandatory.

With Buatsi fighting Caparello in the WBA title eliminator, he’s going to have to fight Bivol sooner or later if he wins that fight. It’ll be up to Hearn how long he wants to wait before making that fight. He can wait until 2020, but will Buatsi improve enough in one year to beat Bivol? Probably not. Buatsi doesn’t look good enough to beat any of the 4 world champions at 175. He might be better off trimming down, and fighting at 168. because there are some beatable guys hold belts in that weight class.

Bivol’s manager thinks Buatsi would come to fight

“Joshua is the next big prospect, and he’ll come to fight, then we’ll have a real fight; unlike [Isaac] Chilemba and Castillo. It doesn’t make for a good fight,” said Bivol’s manager Vadim Kornilov.”The best fighter today is Floyd Mayweather, and he never goes for the knockout.

“He just goes in the ring to win the fight. “Once he fights one of the champions, that’s when it’s going to be a real fight,” said Kornilov about his belief that Bivol won’t be in a tough fight until he faces one of the other world champions at 175. “He’s going to go for the title of the other guy, and he’s going to go for his title, that’s when we’re going to see who the champion is,” said Kornikov.

Buatsi would come to fight against Bivol, but it probably wouldn’t end well for him. This would likely be a similar fight as Buatsi’s match against Adilbek Niyazymbetov. Buatsi looked lost against him, because he’s not a technical fighter. Bivol would have far too much skills for Buatsi to deal with, and that’s something that will probably never change. For Buatsi to improve, he needs to be matched against good fighters, and thus far, Hearn isn’t showing interest in putting him in with quality guys.

Bivol discusses Castillo fight

“Not 100% but I’m glad that I kept my belt, and I’m still in the game,” said Bivol when asked if he was happy with his performance against Castillo. “Of course, I have to show more aggressive fight, because people like that. But sometimes I want to show smart boxing, and if you have a belt, you don’t want to risk sometimes, because you know you can lose something,” said Bivol.

“I don’t understand why guys that fought against me don’t risk, because when I was the challenger, I wanted to put everything on the line and fight aggressive, and want a chance to fight on TV,” said Bivol in complaining why some of his challengers don’t try harder to make it a fight against him. “But I don’t understand why Castillo couldn’t move forward, and take a chance. Maybe because I’m a bad a–. This is a new word that I learn,” said Bivol.

Bivol beat Lenin Castillo (20-3-1, 15 KOs) by a 12 round unanimous decision last Saturday night on the undercard of Oleksandr Usyk vs. Chazz Witherspoon, but it was an exciting, drama-filled fight. Castillo, a classic counter-puncher, waited on Bivol, and would try and take his head off with left hooks at every opportunity.

Bivol got hit with enough of Castillo’s hard counter punches for him to be unwilling to take chances. The complaining that Bivol did after the fight about Castillo not taking chances in the fight doesn’t make sense, because he was facing a counter puncher. If Bivol didn’t know that Castillo was a counter puncher going into the fight, then he didn’t do his homework. Nevertheless, Bivol won by the scores 119-108, 119-108 and 120-107.

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