Monday, May 29, 2023  |


After a 19-month layoff, Dmitry Bivol is ready for his title defense against Craig Richards this Saturday

Photo by Amanda Westcott/SHOWTIME
Fighters Network

Supremely talented WBA light heavyweight titleholder Dmitry Bivol will put his title on the line against Craig Richards at the Manchester Arena, in Manchester, England, on Saturday.

Bivol (17-0, 11 knockouts) is ranked No. 2 by The Ring at 175-pounds, and has remained level-headed during his 19-month layoff due to the pandemic, which he estimates cost him two fights.

“I always want to stay active and keep moving along in my career,” Bivol told The Ring through Alik Frolov. “Sometimes things happen that are out of our control, and it’s always important to keep your composure, keep on training, and wait for the right opportunity.”

Now is that moment and the defending beltholder is respectful of what Richards brings.

“Every fight is important to me, this is another fight, just like any other,” said Bivol. “I am glad that I will be fighting in the U.K. It’s a first-time experience.

“(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.”

The 30-year-old Kyrgyzstan-born fighter recently saw fellow beltholder Artur Beterbiev defend his IBF/WBC titles and former opponent Joe Smith Jr. edge Maxim Vlasov to claim the vacant WBO belt.

Bivol has them in his crosshairs.

“As I have always said, I would like to unify titles with other champions as well,” he said. “If they are available, I am ready to fight the winner of Smith vs. Beterbiev (who are tabbed to face each other later this year) or anybody in the top 10 (of the) world ratings.”

Bivol’s manager, Vadim Kornilov, who is famed for his work with Ruslan Provodnikov, Viktor Postol and reigning IBF/WBA 122-pound titlist Murodjon Akhmadaliev, believes big fights could be just around the corner.

“We have been working hard to put something worthy together,” said Kornilov. “(I’m) very happy to get (Bivol) back in the ring and hoping that this will be a start of a new wave (of activity).

“We are definitely hoping that Gilberto Ramirez and his team, who have been calling out Dmitry for some time, will take steps towards making the fight happen, especially now that both of them are fighting on the same network.

“Also, if Beterbiev and Smith fight each other, the undisputed championship between the winner and Dmitry would be something very exciting for everybody in the future.”

Richards (16-1-1, 9 KOs) turned professional in 2015. He won his first 10 bouts before losing to then-British champion Frank Buglioni (UD 12). He rebounded with five wins, before being held to an eight-round draw by Chad Sugden in December 2019.

However, the 30-year-old Londoner impressively won the British title last time out in a career-best performance stopping previously unbeaten Shakan Pitters (TKO 9).

Joseph Parker vs. Dereck Chisora plus full supporting undercard including Bivol-Richards will be broadcast by DAZN in the U.S. and Sky Sports Box Office in the U.K.

Questions and/or comments can be sent to Anson at [email protected] and you can follow him on Twitter @AnsonWainwright


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