By Keith Idec
Dmitry Bivol watched from a ringside seat as Sergey Kovalev annihilated Vyacheslav Shabranskyy.
Kovalev obviously was impressive in dropping Shabranskyy three times and stopping him in the second round of their November 25 bout in The Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York. Bivol isn’t certain, though, that Kovalev’s knockout of Shabranskyy (19-2, 16 KOs) means that the hard-hitting Russian is back to being the same fighter he was before Andre Ward stopped him in the eighth round of their light heavyweight championship rematch June 17 in Las Vegas.
“He was very good,” Bivol told BoxingScene.com. “It was a good for Kovalev, but the fight was only two rounds. It was hard to tell if Kovalev is completely back or not because it was only two rounds. But he looked like the Kovalev he used to be.”
The 27-year-old Bivol, who sparred against Shabranskyy before he fought Kovalev, could be headed toward an intriguing showdown with Kovalev later this year if they win their upcoming fights on the same card. Kyrgyzstan’s Bivol (12-0, 10 KOs) is reluctant to discuss their potential light heavyweight title unification bout because he must first defend his WBA 175-pound championship against Cuban contender Sullivan Barrera (21-1, 14 KOs), his mandatory challenger.
HBO will broadcast Bivol-Barrera on March 3 as part of a “World Championship Boxing” doubleheader from The Theater at Madison Square Garden. The 34-year-old Kovalev (31-2-1, 27 KOs) will defend his WBO title in the main event against another Russian, IBO champ Igor Mikhalkin (21-1, 9 KOs).
“I don’t like to predict that far ahead,” Bivol said. “It’s too soon for me to talk about that fight. Let’s talk about it after my fight with Barrera. I will fight Barrera and then we will see. For now, I’m only thinking about the Barrera fight. But, of course, I want to add more belts and I want to fight the best of the best.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.