By Alexey Sukachev
Fresh of his third consecutive fourth-round stoppage of 2017, light heavyweight Dmitry Bivol (11-0, 9 KOs), one of the hottest prospects/contenders in the sport, recently resurfaced at the weigh-in for the Povetkin vs. Rudenko showdown.
BoxingScene has caught up with the WBA #1 rated contender (and WBA interim champion).
BoxingScene: Your last four fights ended identically: Bivol – TKO 4. Who was the toughest of the three?
Bivol: Psychologically, each fight was more difficult than the previous one. Cedric Agnew was definitely my most serious opponent, and my attitude was corresponding.
BoxingScene: It appeared like Agnew went into survival mode once he got dropped and was looked for the fifth corner of the ring. Weren’t you disappointed?
Bivol: It didn't feel that way. It wasn’t like Agnew did something wrong. It’s more about me accomplishing my plan. The bout was going just as planned. I applied pressure and started to deliver a battering to the opponent, though he was still dangerous. I moved forward carefully, throwing pitty-pat shots just to open him up. Once he was open I threw in harder leather. Had he been allowed to show more he could have landed some punches I hadn’t really planned to take. Thus somewhat smart pressure had been applied, and the plan was to box carefully.
BoxingScene: Russia or USA – where is it more comfortable to fight in?
Bivol: I wouldn’t speak about comfort to tell the truth. It’s about my fan base, it’s about those who want to see me fighting. The coverage is broader in the States, which allows me to introduce myself not only to the American but, ironically, to Russian fight fans too. Boxing sells well overseas, and I gain more exposure by fighting in the States, which is exactly how my career is getting planned now. I feel myself absolutely comfortable when I fight in the US.
BoxingScene: You have been fighting in a frenetic pace for a titleholder recently – every other month. Can we expect to see you in the ring by August or September?
Bivol: Nope. Absolutely not. I need a break from boxing as it’s hard to fight so often. So, my nearest future is a family vacation in Turkey. Then I’m back to the mountains in order to improve my conditioning. Then we shall sit with my team to think about my next opponent.
BoxingScene: Give me a clue… Will it be WBA regular champion Nathan Cleverly or will it be a tune-up fight?
Bivol: Personally, I wish to fight for a full title. I feel myself ready for a step up and I absolutely wish to fight him next. I was ready to do this even before my last fight but it depends on the champion. If the WBA sanctions it, I’m ready at any time. If not, well, we shall head to the other direction.
BoxingScene: Are you ready for a trip to Cardiff?
Bivol: I am. Certainly, I prefer to fight the Welshman in the States for a broader exposure. But if it can’t be done – then no problem – I’ll head to wherever he wants me to head.
BoxingScene: Have you watched Kovalev vs. Ward II? Who is at fault for Sergey’s loss – the referee or Kovalev is himself to blame?
Bivol: Yep, I have seen it of course. Not speaking about the referee… The fight wasn’t going Sergey’s way to say the least. In the first fight Kovalev boxed beautifully. He shrunk the distance, landed punches in combos, then jumped out forcing Ward to do shadowboxing. This time it was different. This time Kovalev remained still at the middle range after his attacks, allowing Ward to counter at his preferable distance. It was a technical fault.
But the biggest mistake was his conditioning, which affected some fundamentals. If your conditioning isn’t good enough you will lose your technical excellence. Unfortunately, by the fourth Sergey was visibly gassed while Ward was just starting to use his engine at its fullest. It resulted in Kovalev losing his pace, getting slower with each fought round, more vulnerable to the old dirty tricks by Ward. But once again – it was Sergey’s conditioning, which was the decisive factor. Surely, referee is at fault, as he should have warned Ward several times for his old-fashioned dirtiness but… it was Sergey Kovalev who wasn’t ready for the fight and paid his price.
BoxingScene: Could you image fighting Ward next? If no one is signed, and you are receive an offer right away. Will you accept, or will you need to take extra time for preparation?
Bivol: I’ll accept it for sure. It’s not that I’m the best fighter in the world – I am not. Not that I will be a favorite – I surely will not. But you know… It’s a chance of a lifetime, and I cannot afford losing it. My career is gearing up, I feel very good – why not to test myself on the biggest stage possible?
BoxingScene: Speaking of Ward… Is he really the best fighter in the world or is there someone better? Maybe Gennady Golovkin or Vasyl Lomachenko?
Bivol: I’m not a fan of Andre Ward, of his style of fighting. Yes, he is statistically great, he is efficient. But I wouldn’t learn from him. Vasyl Lomachenko is extremely exciting to watch. I love watching him, I’m really educating myself by watching his fights. Same with Gennady Golovkin, same with Guillermo Rigondeaux. So there are really many fighters I’m fascinated with more than with Ward.
BoxingScene: The last question. You have been an accomplished amateur fighter, specifically in the youth ranks. You have surely fought a number of fighters; some of them have turned to a pro game. Is there anyone you wish to impose a payback or, at least, eager to face in the paid ranks?
Bivol: No. That stage of my career is over. I don’t even know who is fighting as a pro or who is still competing at the amateur circuit. Now I have new goals and new ambitions.