Dmitry Bivol targets 175-pound unification bout or long-awaited Gilberto Ramirez clash
Talented technician Dmitry Bivol successfully defended his WBA light heavyweight title for the eighth time when he turned back the spirited challenge of Umar Salamov via wide 12-round unanimous decision at KRK “Uralets” in Ekaterinburg, Russia, on December 11.
Bivol, who is rated No. 2 by The Ring at 175 pounds, was grateful for the opportunity to showcase his skills in front of his countrymen for the first time since 2017.
“Salamov was a courageous and tough opponent,” Bivol (19-0, 11 knockouts) told The Ring through manager Vadim Kornilov. “I was happy to return and fight in Russia. It’s always an honor to defend my world title in my home country.”
The 31-year-old felt more like himself against Salamov, which was a relief given that he’d looked rusty against British contender Craig Richards last May.
“I was out of the ring for more than a year before Richards,” said the unbeaten titleholder. “I always feel better when I am more active and busier with fights.”
Over the past few months, Bivol and former WBO super middleweight titlist Gilberto Ramirez have gone back and forth with regards to wanting to face each other. However, their respective teams were unable to broker a deal for what would be an eagerly anticipated matchup.
“When we were offered to fight Ramirez in California, I already had a deal done for a fight in Russia,” Bivol explained. “I know for a fact that my team did offer Team Ramirez to fight me on December 11th in Russia, and the purse offered was about the same as what I was offered to fight him on a [Golden Boy Promotions] show. He turned down the offer.”
Bivol, who holds notable wins over Jean Pascal (UD 12) and Joe Smith Jr. (UD 12), is happy to accommodate Ramirez, but also has aspirations to unify.
“My motivation and my ambitions have not changed for a long time – I want to fight the best,” he said. “I want to prove that I am the best in my division.”
Kornilov, who is famed for his work with Ruslan Provodnikov, Viktor Postol and reigning IBF/WBA 122-pound titlist Murodjon Akhmadaliev, is on board and hopes to secure the biggest and best fights in the near future.
“Our target is to unify belts and fight the other champions,” said Kornilov. “If Ramirez really wants the fight, then we can definitely make it happen. There has been enough PR and it’s time for this match to materialize.”