By Keith Idec
NEW YORK – Dmitry Bivol doesn’t think Badou Jack is afraid to fight him.
The WBA light heavyweight champion figures Jack just crunched the numbers and determined that it didn’t make financial sense to move forward with a high-risk, low-reward fight against him. Jack drew criticism for vacating the WBA light heavyweight title only four weeks after he won it by knocking out Nathan Cleverly on the Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Conor McGregor undercard August 26 in Las Vegas.
The WBA recognized three light heavyweight champions at the time Sweden’s Jack took its world 175-pound championship from Wales’ Cleverly. Kyrgyzstan’s Bivol (12-0, 10 KOs) was the WBA’s interim champion and Andre Ward (32-0, 16 KOs) was its undisputed champion in the division.
Ward retired the following month, though, and the WBA elevated Bivol from interim to world champion once Jack gave up that championship right after Ward announced his retirement. A WBA purse bid for a Bivol-Jack clash was scheduled for September 25, two days before Jack announced he had given up the title.
“I didn’t think [Jack] was concentrating on the fight itself [against me],” Bivol said through a translator Saturday night at Madison Square Garden. “He wasn’t looking at it as a good fight or a bad fight. He was looking at it financially as well. There was nothing he was gonna gain from it. I didn’t think that he was a coward or didn’t wanna fight me. He just decided not to take a risk.”
Jack quickly refuted talk of him relinquishing the WBA world light heavyweight title simply to avoid Bivol (https://www.boxingscene.com/jack-on-bivol-vacating-im-not-ducking-guy-with-11-fights--120833).
The 34-year-old Jack (22-1-2, 13 KOs), also a former WBC super middleweight champion, wants to fight WBC light heavyweight champion Adonis Stevenson (29-1, 24 KOs) because he would make more money for that higher-profile fight, especially if he travels to Quebec to challenge Stevenson. The 40-year-old Stevenson still has to make an overdue mandatory defense against Colombia’s Eleider Alvarez (23-0, 11 KOs), which could temporarily take away that option from Jack.
Regardless, Bivol suspected immediately after Jack knocked out Cleverly (30-4, 16 KOs) in the fifth round three months ago that Jack wouldn’t fight him.
“I thought there was a 40-percent chance that something was not gonna go right,” Bivol said. “He didn’t mention my name, he didn’t say he wants to fight me. He just kind of never mentioned me at all, so I didn’t assume that the fight was gonna happen.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.