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Dimitry Bivol defends against Craig Richards on Saturday, wants Beterbiev vs. Smith winner

Artur Beterbiev Dmitry Bivol Joe Smith Jr

By Sean Jones: Dimitry Bivol (17-0, 11 KOs) will be coming off a 19-month layoff when he defends his WBA light heavyweight title against #5 Craig Richards (16-1-1, 9 KOs) this Saturday night on May 1st at the Manchester Arena in Manchester, England.

Although the 30-year-old Russian fighter Bivol isn’t looking past Richards, the fight that he really wants is the winner of the unification match between IBF/WBC champion Artur Beterbiev and WBO 175-lb champ Joe Smith Jr.

The unbeaten Beterbiev (16-0, 16 KOs) is coming off a 10th round knockout win over challenger Adam Deines on March 20th in Moscow.

It wasn’t one of the 35-year-old Beterbiev’s better performances, but he was coming off a series of injuries and an illness.

Joe Smith Jr (27-3, 21 KOs) defeated Maxim Vlasov by a 12 round majority decision on April 10th to capture the vacant WBO light heavyweight title.

It was a close fight, but Smith was able to pull out the victory by hurting Vlasov during the championship round.

Bivol wants Gilberto Ramirez next

In the meantime, Bivol would like to defend his WBA belt against #3 Gilberto ‘Zurdo’ Ramirez (41-0, 27 KOs), who has expressed interest in fighting him.

The former WBO super middleweight champion Ramirez, 29, moved up to the 175lb division two years ago in 2019 and has fought twice, beating second-tier fighters Tommy Karpency and Alfonso Lopez by stoppage victories.

If Gilberto is ready to take a step up in class, finally, Bivol will be waiting for him.

If not, Bivol will need another opponent for his next fight while he waits for the smoke to clear from the Beterbiev vs. Joe Smith Jr. unification clash.

Artur Beterbiev Dmitry Bivol Joe Smith Jr

“As I have always said, I would like to unify titles with other champions as well,” Bivol said to RingTV.

“If they are available, I am ready to fight the winner of Smith vs. Beterbiev or anybody in the top 10 world ratings.”

“Craig Richards is a boxer with good skills, quick footwork, and speed. I will just have to do what I usually do, be ready 100 percent, and apply my skills.”

There’s not much to say about ‘Spider’ Craig Richards, as he’s a fighter that likely wouldn’t be getting a chance to fight Bivol for his WBA world title if not for promoter Eddie Hearn, who is from the UK.

Hearn promotes Bivol, so it’s a no-brainer that he’s matching him up against a Brit on the undercard of Dereck Chisora vs. Joseph Parker on Saturday.

Obviously, it would be better for Bivol to be fighting in the U.S, as that’s where he’s fought seven times in the last four years since 2017. But with Hearn being from the UK, it’s understandable why Bivol is fighting in England.

Richards with little chance against Bivol

As for Craig Richards, he’s got one advantage going into Saturday’s fight, and that’s the fact that he’s catching Bivol coming off a 19-month layoff. If there’s enough ring rust with Bivol, Richards might be able to make a fight of it.

Frankly, it’ unlikely that Bivol will have deteriorated enough to lose to a domestic level fighter like Richards, but you never know. Stranger things have happened.

Richards defeated Shakan Pitters (14-1, 4 KOs) by a ninth-round knockout in his last fight in December of last year. Although some boxing fans rated Pitters highly, he didn’t have the pop needed to keep Richards honest.

It’s too bad there aren’t any good UK fighters for Bivol to fight in the future. The only decent fighter at 175 from the UK is Joshua Buatsi, but he clearly isn’t in the same class as Bivol.

If Hearn makes the mistake of putting the 28-year-old Buatsi in with Bivol (13-0, 11 KOs), he’ll likely live to regret it.

Unlike Lawrence Okolie, Buatsi isn’t a huge fighter for his weight division, so he won’t be able to depend on using his size against a fighter like Bivol.

Additionally, Buatsi is too close to the same age as the 30-year-old Bivol to wait until he’s gotten old before fighting him.



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