Agnew Vows To Bring a "Grit and Grind War" To Dmitry Bivol

By Peter Lim

Although he has three times as many bouts as his opponent, including a world title fight, light heavyweight Cedric Agnew (29-2, 15 KOs) enters the ring a substantial underdog against Dimitry Bivol (10-0, 8 KOs) on the undercard of Ward-Kovalev II. A look at the fighters’ respective recent activity might be an indication why the bookmakers list Bivol as a roughly 10-1 favorite in this matchup.

Agnew, 30, never managed to get his career back on track after his 2014 loss to Kovalev. He has fought just four bouts since then, winning three and losing one, all against nondescript opponents. His only other loss came against Samuel Clarkson whom Bivol easily stopped in four rounds in April. 

Bivol, 26, on the other hand, has averaged a fight every three months during his two-and-a-half years as a pro which coincided with Agnew’s slump. Besides Clarkson (19-4, 12 KOs) he has beaten previously undefeated Felix Valera (14-1, 12 KOs) and knocked out Robert Berridge (29-7-1, 21 KOs) who had previously never been stopped.


“I have been the underdog in quite a few fights and it doesn’t bother me at all. My thing is, those who really know me know I am not an underdog,” Agnew said. “It is going to be an action fight. It is going to be a grit and grind war out there. I am here to showcase my talent, my skills and it is going to be an amazing fight. You’re gonna see me fight a hell of a fight. You’re gonna see a lot of Cedric Agnew come Saturday night.”

Trainer Bobby Benton attributed Agnew’s three-year rut to several big fights falling through. Agnew has not accumulated any ring rust, Benton said, due to the fact that he has never missed a day at the gym and has sparred regularly throughout. Medzhid Bektimirov (19-1, 13 KOs), Alfonso Lopez (26-3, 21 KOs) and Roberto Silva (9-1, 6 KOs) have been Agnew’s principal sparring partners for this fight.

“(Bivol) is a good fighter, a Russian with a bunch of amateur fights,” Benton said. “He boxes but he comes forward, though. He’s got quick feet, quick hands and throws a lot of straight shots but not a lot of hooks.”

What Bivol lacks is experience, Benton said, and he might not yet have completely transitioned to the pro game. While he has solid fundamentals and boxing ability, he is still raw at the art of trench warfare, Benton added. 

“He has trouble when you get inside, so we’re going to try and get close to him,” Benton said.

Agnew’s switch-hitting style is something else Bivol will have to cope with. Although he is listed as a southpaw, Agnew has demonstrated the ability to fluidly alternate between lefty and orthodox.

“If the guy adapts to my orthodox style pretty easily, I switch to southpaw and give him trouble. I just do what comes naturally,” Agnew said.

“I write with my right hand, but any style is natural for me. What I can do southpaw, I can do right handed. What I can do right handed, I can do southpaw.”

 See prediction for Ward-Kovalev II at:

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