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Dmitry Bivol wants Joshua Buatsi fight in December

Image: Dmitry Bivol wants Joshua Buatsi fight in December

By Jeff Aronow: WBA light heavyweight champion Dmitry Bivol and his manager Vadim Kornilov are interested in defending against #3 WBA Joshua Buatsi at the end of the year.

If the 2016 Olympic bronze medalist Buatsi (12-0, 10 KOs) wins his fight tonight against Marko Calic (11-0, 6 KOs) on Sky Sports at the Marshall Arena in Milton Keynes, England.

Should Buatsi accept the offer by the talented Bivol, he’d be the underdog for sure, and perhaps a huge underdog at that. Unfortunately for Buatsi, he’s in the same mold as Joe Smith Jr, a fighter that Bivol schooled lat year in March 2019 in beating the New Yorker by a lopsided 12 round unanimous decision.

Buatsi faces Calic tonight

Like Smith, Buatsi can punch hard, but his boxing ability is underdeveloped at this early stage in his career. We saw Buatsi exposed in the Olympics with him getting dominated by the Kazah Adilbek Niyazymbetov. Buatsi’s power is top-notch, but he lacks answers when facing clever boxers.

Buatsi will be defending his WBA International light heavyweight champion title against the 33-year-old Croatian fighter in front of his home crowd.

Image: Dmitry Bivol wants Joshua Buatsi fight in December

What’s impressive is that Bivol, 29, says he’s willing to defend his World Boxing Association 175lb title against Buatsi in the UK rather than insisting that it take place in Russia or a neutral country like the United States.

For Bivol to be volunteering to defend his WBA belt in England, it’s putting Buatsi on the spot where he has to accept the offer, or else he’ll look scared in the eyes of the boxing world.

At 27, Buatsi is about as good as he’s ever going to be, and he should take the fight with Bivol rather delaying it a couple of years to gain more experience. Buatsi fighting style is unchanged from when he first turned professional in 2017.

Given that Bivol is only two years older than Buatsi and less accomplished in terms of amateur experience, it could be good for him to take Dmitry up on his offer.

Beterbiev another target for Joshua

Although Buatsi, 27, would like to take on IBF/WBC 175-lb champion Artur Beterbiev (15-0, 15 KOs) for his two titles, his chances of better for a title shot this year against the unbeaten Bivol (17-0, 11 KOs), who is offering him the fight if he wants it.

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Beterbiev, 34, suffered a rib injury recently in training, which has resulted in his October 23 title defense against #6 IBF Adam Deines being postponed until sometime in December. In other words, Beterbiev won’t be available to defend his IBF & WBC 175lb straps against Buatsi.

“Good boxer, if it made sense and the fans want to see this fight, I am always open to fighting anybody,” said Bivol to Sky Sports in talking about Buatsi. ”

Why not?” said Bivol when asked if he’d be willing to defend his WBA light-heavyweight title against Buatsi in the UK.

“I am also interested in fighting the top boxers in my division as well as in the 168lbs (super-middleweight) weight class including Мarcus Browne, Badou Jack, David Benavidez, and others,” said Bivol.

Buatsi would be an excellent scalp for Bivol to add to his collection before moving on to fights against the above-mentioned Benavidez, Beterbiev, Jack, and Browne.

Bivol-Buatsi = great fight for December

As long Buatsi is interested in facing Bivol, it would be a great fight to make in December. Promoter Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Boxing has frequently mentioned wanting to set-up a fight between Buatsi and Beterbiev, so he likely views him as the more winnable match.

Beterbiev is 34 and has shown vulnerability against big punchers. The Russian fighter was hurt by Callum Smith in 2018 and dropped by American Jeff Page in 2014.

Image: Dmitry Bivol wants Joshua Buatsi fight in December

“We are working on a return fight for Dmitry at the end of the year,” said Kornilo to Sky Sports.  “We would definitely entertain a fight versus Joshua Buatsi.”

It might be a little intimidating that Bivol and his management are openly offering a title shot to Buatsi rather than him seeking it out. When the champion becomes the hunter rather than the hunted, it’s a signal that the contenders are weak and lame.

Ultimately, it could come down to Hearn whether he wants to let the 6’2″ Buatsi take the fight with Bivol. If Hearn wants to give Buatsi more seasoning before fighting a talented world champion like Bivol, you can see his rationale for wanting to do that. It’s just unlikely that Buatsi will improve much fighting type of opposition that Hearn has been feeding him.

Instead of Buatsi being matched against flawed fighters like Calic, Ryan Ford, Liam Conroy, Marco Antonio Periban, and Renold Quinlan, he should be fighting Gilberto Ramirez or Jean Pascal.

Eddie Hearn trying to make Buatsi a star

Hearn is trying to turn Buatsi into a star in the UK, and one way of doing that is the backdoor method he’s been using. Instead of matching Buatsi against the best, he’s been put in with many older guys with limited talent and power.

I guess you could call Buatsi’s opposition ‘showcase’ level fighters, who make him look good in comparison.

Buatsi fought well in the 2016 Olympics, winning three fights until running into the buzzsaw Adilbek Niyazymbetov from Kazakhstan, and losing to him by a 3-0 score. Niyazymbetov would later be defeated by Julio Cesar la Cruz from Cuba in the gold medal match by a 3-0 score.

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Bivol is coming off of an impressive 12 round unanimous decision win over Lenin Castillo last year on October 12th in Chicago. It’s been exactly 12 months since Bivol last fought, and he would have would already been back inside the ring by now if not for the pandemic.

If Buatsi wants to take advantage of Bivol’s inactivity, this would be the perfect opportunity for him to do so. With Bivol not planning on fighting for another two months in December, Buatsi could catch him while he’s rusty and perhaps beat him.

Bivol has fought better opposition

Buatsi has been inactive, with his last contest coming against an overmatched 38-year-old Canadian Ryan Ford (17-6, 12 KOs) on August 31 last year at the O2 Arena in London, England. But with Buatsi, he’s getting this fight in tonight against Calic, and he’ll have that going for him if he chooses to accept the offer to fight Bivol in December.

Bivol’s last ten fights have come against these fighters:

  • Lennis Castillo
  • Joe Smith Jr
  • Isaac Chilemba
  • Jean Pascal
  • Sullivan Barrera
  • Trent Broadhurst
  • Cedric Agnew
  • Samuel Clarkson
  • Robert Berridge
  • Felix Valera

As you can see, Bivol has fought a lot of quality fighters during his short six-year professional career. Bivol hasn’t been given the same soft match-making that Buatisi has by Matchroom, but he’s not the type that would have agreed to be ut in with low-level opponents.

Buatsi should have spoken up a long time ago and insisted that he be matched against guys like Joe Smith Jr, Jean Pascal, and Sullivan Barera.

Image: Dmitry Bivol wants Joshua Buatsi fight in December

The fact that Buatsi is still being put in with the likes of 38-year-old Ryan Ford is troubling, and not a good sign that he’ll be given the green light to fight Bivol. Even tonight’s fight between Buatsi and Calic is another Ford-level match.

Bivol wants to take on IBF/WBC 175lb champion Beterbiev and then fight for the WBO strap against whoever ends up with the vacant belt. Beterbiev is a fight that could happen for Bivol in 2021, as long as he’s injury-free and open to taking the fight.

A lot to gain in fighting for a title

Buatsi should look at the positive that would come from him challenging Bivol. Even if Buatsi loses, which is likely, he’ll gain from the contest both in terms of visibility and learning what it’s like to be in with a talented fighter.

It would have been nice to have been Buatsi given a step up fight by now in his career. For Buatsi to still be fighting guys like Calc and Ford, it suggests that Matchroom has reservations about wanting to put him in with quality fighters.

They would obviously know by this point what they have with Buatsi. If they thought he was another Bivol type of talent, then they probably would have already thrown him into the deep end of the pool a long time ago to see how he does with the sharks.

Image: Dmitry Bivol wants Joshua Buatsi fight in December

Instead, Buatsi is still swimming with the minnows like Calic and not really progressing the way he should.

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