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Bivol is no longer an afterthought after beating Canelo – and there are plenty of super fights ahead

Bivol is no longer an afterthought after beating Canelo – and there are plenty of super fights ahead

Dmitriy Bevol arrived in Las Vegas in May as an afterthought. The Canelo Alvarez Show was in town – and it grabbed all the attention.

Bevol was the WBA Light Heavyweight Champion, and Alvarez, the number one boxing star, had already struck a deal to face Gennady Golovkin in September for a third time – once he took over the business against Bevol, the 4-1 loser.

The match turned out to be as lopsided as it was surprising. Bevol proved why he was hopelessly shunned by the sport’s top fighters for years as he secured a unanimous decision on Alvarez, then the pound-for-pound king, and spoiled plans for a super third fight with GGG – or so Bevol thought.

While still in the ring celebrating his victory over Alvarez, Bevol (20-0, 11 KOs) told promoter Eddie Hearn, “I’m sorry I broke your plans with Gennady Golovkin.”

But rather than exercising the rematch clause and heading into the second straight match with Bevol, Alvarez instead chose to face GGG in the three-way match—and won.

Meanwhile, Bevol was left to try and lock up Fighter of the Year on Saturday in Abu Dhabi, UAE, when he put his WBA heavyweight title on the line against Gilberto Ramirez (Dazen, 1:30 p.m. ET).

The rivalry with “Zurdo” Ramirez, the leading lightweight contender and former middleweight title holder, is an intriguing battle for Bivol. But a showdown against a relatively low-profile fighter in the Middle East is a far cry from a Las Vegas rematch with Alvarez, the sport’s biggest star.

However, Bivol should have ample opportunity to exploit the win over Alvarez in more big fights befitting his new stature, especially if he can tackle Ramirez, a formidable opponent, in a convincing manner.

“I feel more confident because I beat Canelo,” Bevol, 31, told ESPN last month.

The life-changing victory took Bevol one step further to realize his dream.

“I want to be the undisputed champion, you know?” He said. “It doesn’t matter against whom.”

Currently, fellow Russian Artur Petterbiev holds the other three titles at 175 lbs and is the only serious boxer to be 100% boxing champion. Like Bivol, Beterbiev is ESPN’s pound-for-pound listed (Beterbiev is No. 7; Bivol is No. 8), and Beterbiev is also ESPN’s No. 1 light heavyweight (Bivol is No. 2).

There’s no bigger match between Bivol than Beterbiev, but when you add in the undisputed tournament, the fight reaches a whole new level. It would be the perfect debut for Bivol next year – a match befitting the man who knocked out Alvarez, the best fighter in all of boxing.

It’s hard to overstate how much Bevol liked his victory over Alvarez. Alvarez was apparently indomitable entering the bout, and for proof, look no further than the odds. Bivol has always been recognized as an elite talent, but Alvarez was riding such a hotline that most observers and fans gave Bivol little chance.

Since Alvarez lost to Floyd Mayweather in 2013 when he was 23 years old, he hasn’t lost a single fight until he met Bevol. Besides the previous two matches against GGG, Alvarez did not lose many rounds.

But against Bevol, Alvarez had absolutely no answers. The official scorecards were incredibly generous in favor of the Mexican, with all three judges scoring the match 115-113, meaning Alvarez won five rounds. In fact, one could argue that Alvarez won only two or three rounds.

“Lots of people recognize me and stop me, take a picture with me.”

Dimitri Bevol after defeating Canelo Alvarez

Bevol used his excellent punches – one of the best in the sport – and a strange sense of range and, most surprisingly, combinations of five and six punches not only to confuse Alvarez, but to punish him.

“I wanted to move on to be close to him and punch him, and to be more aggressive,” Bevol said. A little more aggressive [style]. “

The way Bevol was able to deliver punches in groups while standing in front of a great defensive fighter was impressive. It was also entertaining, a stark departure from Bevol’s usual fighting style.

In his previous three fights before facing Alvarez, Bevol had 12-round victories over boxers much smaller than Omar Salamov, Craig Richards and Gilbert Castillo Rivera. In those shows, Bevol was carefully boxed on the outside, making matches far from aesthetically pleasing.

But in the face of one of the sport’s most imposing punches, Bevol chose the trade.

The way he won provoked the thirst for a summit meeting with Peterbiev. It’s a match in focus last spring in Bevol’s hometown of Saint Petersburg, Russia, according to his manager, Vadim Kornilov. When Alvarez had a chance for Bevol, Petrbiev quickly took a second-round TKO for Joe Smith Jr., to add a third belt.

Now that Beterbiev has recovered from surgery on his right knee, he is set to defend his unified championship against Anthony Yarde in January. Assuming Beterbiev wins, as expected, there is optimism that a deal could be struck to pit Bivol against Beterbiev later in 2023 in one of the best fights boxing can achieve.

“Lots of people recognize me and stop me, take a picture with me,” Bevol said of his newfound fame.

“He’s been back in Los Angeles to visit him for a bit…He goes to any store or restaurant, a lot of people from Latin America and Mexicans, all these people recognize him and give him respect, which is great. These guys know the meaning of boxing and they know what it means to beat,” Kornilov said. On someone like Canelo.

“I think people realize that he is probably one of the biggest fighters in Russia. But in addition to that, he has a fan base in [South] Korea [Bivol’s mother is Korean]. I know [South] Korea will show the fight live with Ramirez. He has a huge fan base in Kyrgyzstan [where he was born]. He just went to camp there.”

Bevol has a chance to raise his growing international profile even more if he can defeat Ramirez, another Mexican, the same way he sent Alvarez.

Ramirez (44-0, 30 KOs) didn’t engage much during his 168-pound reign, but he scored breaks in all five of his 175-pound fights undefeated.

Ramirez, 31, said: “I can’t wait to prove to everyone and myself that I can do it. Bevol is a tough guy. It’s a really good challenge. But I’m going to take revenge on the Mexican people since he defeated Canelo.”

If Bivol defeats “Zurdo,” ESPN’s No. 3 light heavyweight champion, the win should conclude Bivol’s Fighter of the Year in a campaign in which few top boxers have competed twice.

“I have a lot of experience, [but] Bevol said of the confrontation with Alvarez that it’s not even a boxing experience, it’s a life experience too. “People talk bad things about you. Even people don’t believe in you. You have to move on, believe in yourself, train, and focus.”

Now, Bevol is ready to take advantage of it. And he’s already guaranteed one thing: he’ll never again be an afterthought in a fight.


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