By Keith Idec
Dmitry Bivol’s allegiance lies with Sergey Kovalev.
They’re both from the former Soviet Union – Bivol from Kyrgyzstan, Kovalev from Russia. Though they don’t know each other well, Bivol and Kovalev also have several mutual friends.
Bivol would like to see Kovalev avenge his November 19 loss to Andre Ward when they fight again in a light heavyweight championship rematch Saturday night in Las Vegas. He just isn’t sure that will happen when Ward and Kovalev square off at Mandalay Bay Events Center (HBO Pay-Per-View; $64.99 in HD; 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT).
The 26-year-old Bivol (10-0, 8 KOs), who will face Houston’s Cedric Agnew (29-2, 15 KOs) in a 10-rounder on the televised portion of the Ward-Kovalev undercard, expects Kovalev to have more difficulty fighting Ward in their second bout. Bivol, the WBA interim light heavyweight champion, was very impressed with Ward’s ability to adjust during the second half of his fight against Kovalev, which Ward won by a widely debated unanimous decision (114-113 on all three scorecards).
“It’s very hard for me to predict a fight and every time I do so, I tend to be wrong,” Bivol told BoxingScene.com. “Of course I’m gonna root for Kovalev because he’s Russian as well, and we have mutual friends. But I also think that this fight is gonna be tougher for him than the first one. So I think it’s gonna be very exciting to see what is actually gonna happen in that fight. It’s very hard for me to predict, honestly.”
Bivol paid particularly close attention to their first fight because Bivol eventually would like to challenge Ward (31-0, 15 KOs) and/or Kovalev (30-1-1, 26 KOs).
“Judging by the first fight that they had,” Bivol said, “more toward the second half of the fight Ward learned and so to speak adapted to Kovalev’s fighting style. And I think maybe he adjusted a little bit. So this time, it’s gonna be very interesting what strategy he chooses and how he chooses to box. And also, it’s always harder to win the title than to retain it. So that’s another part of it. I think it’s gonna be a tough fight and a challenge for Sergey.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.