By Keith Idec
LAS VEGAS – Dmitry Bivol made the emphatic statement he sought Saturday night.
The hard-hitting light heavyweight dominated Cedric Agnew on his way to recording a fourth-round technical knockout at Mandalay Bay Events Center. Bivol’s impressive performance came in the second of three televised undercard bouts before HBO Pay-Per-View’s broadcast of the Andre Ward-Sergey Kovalev rematch.
The 26-year-old Bivol, of Tokmak, Kyrgyzstan, improved to 11-0 and recorded his ninth knockout. Agnew (29-3, 15 KOs), a Houston resident raised in Chicago, was stopped for just the second time in his 10-year pro career.
Referee Russell Mora ended the scheduled 10-round bout because Agnew was pawing at his right eye, indicating that he couldn’t see out of it. Bivol was hitting Agnew, who also had a cut over his left eye, near a neutral corner when Mora stepped in to stop the fight at 1:27 of the fourth round.
A round after flooring Agnew, Bivol drilled Agnew with a flush left hook with a little more than a minute to go in the second round. Agnew took that shot well and waved Bivol forward.
Late in the first round, Bivol’s left hook penetrated Agnew’s high guard and hurt him. Several seconds later, Bivol connected with a cleaner left hook that made Agnew stumble backward, into a neutral corner.
Bivol followed up with a right hand and Agnew, still stung from the left hook, went down. He made it to his feet and survived the rest of the round.
Bivol is the WBA interim light heavyweight champion, but his title wasn’t at stake against Agnew. Before Saturday night, Agnew had lost only to Kovalev, who knocked him out in the seventh round of their March 2014 fight in Atlantic City, and Samuel Clarkson, who won a debatable split decision over Agnew in February 2015 in Rye, New York.
In the bout before he beat Agnew, Bivol stopped Clarkson in the fourth round April 14 in Oxon Hill, Maryland.
The fast-developing Bivol hopes to face WBA world light heavyweight champion Nathan Cleverly (30-3, 16 KOs) in his next bout. Ward entered his rematch with Kovalev as the WBA “super” light heavyweight champion.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.