Eddie Hearn working on Dmitry Bivol next opponent for June, wants “good name”

By Boxing News - 03/20/2023 - Comments

By Sean Jones: Eddie Hearn says he is looking for a “good name” for Dmitry Bivol’s next title defense for his IBF light heavyweight belt in June in the United States.

Eddie wants the opponent for Bivol to be a “top 15” guy so that he can make a statement ahead of his rematch with Canelo Alvarez in September.

The Matchroom Boxing promoter Hearn had hoped to use one of his former highly ranked fighters, Joshua Buatsi, but he rejected a 1.2 million offer to face the unbeaten Bivol (21-0, 11 KOs).

Hearn is still open to resisting the negotiations with Buatsi if he’s interested in challenging Bivol for his belt.

That’s a fight that would play better in the UK rather than the U.S. because casual American boxing fans have never heard of Buatsi, and they won’t be overly excited at seeing Bivol face an obscure foreigner with a rather reserved personality.

“It’s June 3, June 17th, and June 24th; it’ll be two shows on those three dates. Dmitry Bivol, I’m looking for opponents for him now. I’d love it to be Joshua Buatsi if they want to open that conversation again,” said Matchroom Boxing promoter Eddie Hearn to iFL TV when asked about WBA light heavyweight champion Dmitry Bivol’s next fight.

“Callum Smith is obviously fighting [IBF/WBC/WBO light heavyweight champion Artur] Beterbiev, and then Dmitry Bivol, which we’re going through opponents right now for him.

I want a good name. I want someone in the top 15 in the world if we can. I think it’s important that he makes a statement,” said Hearn about Bivol.

Given Hearn’s propensity for focusing on British fighters when selecting opponents for his non-Brit stable guys, it’s possible that he could choose Craig Richards as Bivol’s opponent for June. Bivol already beat Richards by a dull 12 round unanimous decision in 2021 in Manchester, England.

Bivol fought in first gear the entire fight and only briefly turned it up. When Bivol pressed Richards in the early rounds, he had him looking like he was ready to cave.

Hopefully, Hearn doesn’t pick Richards because he recently lost to Buatsi last May, and he hasn’t fought since. Richards has lost two out of his last three fights, and it would make a joke of competition if he’s given a chance to fight for a world title with that poor recent record.

A far better option for Bivol would be former WBO champion Joe Smith Jr. While he is coming off a loss, at least he’s well-known in the U.S. and has held a world title.

It wouldn’t be a good idea for Hearn to use Pawel Stepien as Bivol’s opponent because he’s not well known either. Stepien is the same guy that Callum Smith was scheduled to fight and dropped out when he suddenly came down with an injury.

Some fans feel that Callum changed his mind about taking this fight after he found out he could immediately face IBF/WBA/WBO champion Beterbiev.

If Bivol is going to make a statement to get fans excited about his rematch with Canelo in September, he’s going to need an opponent that fans have heard of and has the talent to force him to get out of first gear.

Bivol has a bad habit of coasting and not pushing himself to batter and knock out his opponents, which almost cost him the fight against Canelo last May. He allowed Canelo to hang around and have success at times, and that resulted in the judges scoring the fight close at 115-113 x 3.

If Bivol had pressed Canelo, he could have made him look really and possibly stopped him because he was a punching bag in that fight each time Dmitry turned up the heat, throwing sustained combinations.