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Dmitry Bivol could fight Canelo for undisputed at 168, then Beterbiev at 175

Image: Dmitry Bivol could fight Canelo for undisputed at 168, then Beterbiev at 175

By Dan Ambrose: Dmitry Bivol could drop down to 168 to challenge Canelo Alvarez for his undisputed super middleweight championship in his next fight following his victory over Gilberto Ramirez on Saturday night in Abu Dhabi.

At the post-fight press conference, Matchroom Boxing promoter Eddie Hearn was asked who he wants Bivol (21-0, 11 KOs) to face next. He revealed that he prefers that he move down to 168 to fight Canelo in a rematch for his undisputed championship rather than waiting around for an undisputed clash against IBF/WBC/WBO light heavyweight champion Artur Beterbiev in 2023.

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Hearn says that Beterbiev won’t be free to fight Bivol until the summer because he’s got a title defense against Anthony Yarde in February, and then he has Ramadan after that, which will keep him out of the ring until the summer.

“It’s pretty obvious that Dmitry Bivol is about legacy and belts. He wants to become undisputed. That’s his absolute main focus,” said Eddie Hearn after the fight at the post-fight press conference when asked if Bivol will fight Canelo Alvarez next.

“Obviously, on my side, we want to make the biggest fights possible. The Canelo Alvarez rematch is a very big fight, but the priority for Dmitry is to be the undisputed.

“However, if Beterbiev fights Yarde in January or February and then goes into Ramadan, then he probably won’t be ready to fight Dmitry until June, July, whatever.

“We have to look as a team. We also have to look at the possibility of Dmitry fighting Canelo at 168 for undisputed. He could fight Canelo Alvarez at 168 for undisputed. If he won that fight, he could fight Beterbiev in his next fight for undisputed at 175 and become a two-time undisputed champion in two fights.

“I have no idea if he can make 168,” said Hearn. “We’ve worked with him [Bivol] and worked with [manager] Vadim [Kornilov] for a long time.

“There were times when we felt a little bit lost. We didn’t know what the direction was and where was he a draw, and he was so good that people didn’t want to fight him.

“Vadim always believed in us. He said, ‘I know you’ll deliver for us,’ and then COVID came, and he had to take a fight for small money against Craig Richards behind closed doors.

“There were times I was thinking, ‘I don’t know.’ They just said, ‘Give him the opportunity, and he’ll show everybody how good he is. Really, you have to thank Canelo Alvarez because he gave Dmitry the opportunity.

“Even though he [Canelo] was fighting for his belt, that was the fight against the pound-for-pound #1. Canelo Alvarez picked Dmitry. No one else would, and said, ‘I think I can beat him,’ which shows how great they both are because they want to fight the best.

“Now he fights Zurdo, and you’re talking about Beterbiev. It’s amazing the turnaround. That comes from a belief from Vadim and Andry Rabinsky in Dmitry Bivol and also in us, and eventually, we delivered.

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“It feels really good now to see him fight Canelo Alvarez in Vegas and Zurdo Ramirez in Abu Dhabi and make a lot of money. He doesn’t like to talk about that, but this is a tough sport, a dangerous sport, and it’s our job to make sure these guys get rewarded for taking part in the sport.

“Every fighter wants the best deals, but he also wants a legacy in the sport. The problem was, he was so good, and his profile wasn’t big enough, and people wouldn’t fight him. Now, he’s a pound-for-pound superstar.

“So now people in Abu Dhabi are supporting him, bringing big fights here, Las Vegas, Russia, there are massive opportunities for him over there. It’s been an amazing turnaround, honestly.

“A year and a half ago, two years ago, I didn’t know where these big opportunities would come from,” said Hearn.

“Sounds good,” said Bivol. “When I was an amateur, I would fight against my weight, first of all, 75 kilos, and second against my opponent. I decided I didn’t want to make weight, but in the pros, I work with a nutritionist, and I learned how to make weight easy.

“Before this fight, I had a winner. Before this weigh-in, I had dinner, and I had a small breakfast. Then I came to the scales and showed my weight. Of course, we could talk about it [Bivol going down to 168 to challenge Canelo for his undisputed championship. We could. It’s not my preference, but we could,” said Bivol.

“And also, there’s a chance Canelo might say no,” said Hearn about Canelo possibly rejecting the idea of defending his four 168-lb titles against Bivol.

“‘I lost at 175. I want to [fight Bivol at that weight, not 168,'” said Hearn, speculating that Canelo might reject the idea of defending his undisputed super middleweight championship against Bivol.

“Look, there’s no Canelo, there’s no Beterbiev. He’s [Bivol] going to want to fight,  but it has to now be. It’s not just a case of Dmitry Bivol just fighting. He’s going to want the right deal, he’s going to want the right opponent, and he’s going to want the right plan.

“Voluntary defenses are nice, but they’re not legacy-defining, and that’s what he wants, but he’s still got to stay active. He’s got Beterbiev; he’s got Canelo, loads of options. [Joshua] Buatsi and Callum Smith, maybe.

“You’re right; he [Bivol] can fill a stadium now in the UK against a British fighter. He could also fill a stadium in the U.S. He could go back to Abu Dhabi, and he could go to Russia. So the options are all there.

“I spoke to him the other day, and he said he can’t punch for two months, but that was a week ago. I guess that he can punch by the end of the year,” said Hearn about whether Canelo will be able to fight in May. “I think he’ll fight in May, but obviously, subject to how the hand is healed.

“He said he can’t punch for two months. We’re not going to stop Dmitry Bivol from taking that opportunity through a TV situation,” said Hearn when asked if Beterbiev fighting on a different network on ESPN could be a problem making a fight with Bivol, who fights on DAZN.

“There’s an easy deal to make with Top Rank and DAZN. Maybe we speak to DAZN and say, ‘Can he ever fight on ESPN or vice versa.’ DAZN has been very good to Dmitry over these last couple of fights, and obviously, we want to stay and support them.

“There’s a dual broadcast and other options, but we don’t want to get in the way at the same time. That’s a real problem with boxing that a network will stop a fight from happening, and DAZN has never really done that.

“They’re new to the sport; they’re fresh. They tend to accept that fighters want to make the big fights. Listen, Dmitry Bivol against Beterbiev is an unbelievable fight. Two Russian fighters for the undisputed light heavyweight title.

“I have to say, a year ago, a year and a half ago, I would say on paper, Beterbiev was the favorite in that fight. Not anymore. I honestly believe that Dmitry Bivol is the best 175-lb fighter in the world.

“As good and as dangerous Beterbiev is, I do not believe he will beat Dmitry Bivol at all,” said Hearn.

“Of course, I’m glad I’m the first to defeat Zurdo. 44 fights he won before, and now I’m the first to beat him. It means a lot to me,” said Dmitry Bivol at the post-fight press conference after beating Gilberto ‘Zurdo’ Ramirez on Saturday night.

“I wanted to fight him three years ago, and now I did it. It means a lot to me. I prove. I didn’t expect from him to have good timing. He’s slow. I see his punches. He’s slower than me, but he has good timing.

“When I threw punch, he would counterattack on my body. This is good homework. He punched me many times to the body. It was good punches.

“Yeah, I saw a couple of moments, but he has good defense too,” said Bivol when asked if he felt he had a chance to knock out Ramirez. “In sparring sessions, I tried to come forward because I knew he threw a lot of punches.

“When you throw a lot of punches, it means they’re not strong. They’re easy, and you can push your opponent. If your opponent doesn’t throw a lot of punches, it’s hard punches. Usually, he moves forward.

“I didn’t surprise because I expect that,” said Bivol when asked if he was surprised that Ramirez didn’t throw more body shots. “He punched me many times in the body. It was good punches.

“I tried to be close to Ramirez all the fight. To be close every time to keep him in the focus. Every time, I wanted him to throw punches and expend his gas.

“Are you serious, yeah?” said Bivol when told that he looked better tonight against Ramirez than he did against Canelo Alvarez last May. “Thank you. Yeah, I try to better every time.

“I felt I won the fight. In a couple of rounds, I tried to give him to take his energy back,” said Bivol.

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