By Dan Ambrose: Eddie Hearn plans for Dmitry Bivol to defend his WBA light heavyweight title against #1 Joshua Buatsi. If he successfully wins, he’ll face Canelo Alvarez in a rematch in September.
In effect, Bivol (21-0, 11 KOs) would have to earn the second fight with Canelo, even though he’s ambivalent about fighting the Mexican star again after already defeating him last May.
Hearn has got things upside down, thinking Bivol, the winner last May, must earn the Canelo fight rather than the opposite way around.
In a real sense, Canelo should earn a second fight with Bivol by beating a high-caliber fighter at 168 or 175, and unfortunately, he’s not planning on doing that.
“Bivol will fight around the same time in April or May. I’d like for him to fight Buatsi,” said Eddie Hearn to iFL TV. “If he beats Joshua Buatsi, he will fight Canelo Alvarez. If Joshua Buatsi wins, he will probably fight Canelo Alvarez. That’s the way the light heavyweights plan out.”
Buatsi (16-0, 12 KOs) is a British fighter that Hearn signed after he captured a bronze medal in the 2016 Olympics for Great Britain.
After six years toiling away in the pro ranks, Buatsi’s career hasn’t taken off, and he’s failed to become one of Hearn’s popular fighters despite having better amateur credentials than stablemate Conor Benn.
A win for Buatsi over Bivol could open the door to him finally gaining a large following in the UK. However, it’s unlikely that Buatsi will do any better against Bivol and Canelo and Gilberto ‘Zurdo’ Ramirez did, but if he were to beat him, it would be a win-win for Hearn.
Canelo’s next fight in May will be against Matchroom Boxing stable fighter John ‘The Gorilla’ Ryder (32-5, 18 KOs) in London, England. Ryder is nowhere near the level of the top super middleweights David Benavidez, Caleb Plant, and David Morrell.
There’s no risk at all for Canelo in taking on Ryder, and it’s not a great setup fight for the rematch with Bivol. A better option for Canelo would be for him to take on the Plant vs. Benavidez winner or Morrell. Beating one of those guys would make the Canelo-Bivol rematch much bigger.
Bivol already proved that he’s a level above Canelo, and he now wants to face IBF/WBC/WBO light heavyweight champion Artur Beterbiev in 2023 for the undisputed championship at 175. If that fight is available for Bivol later this year, it would be the way to go.