By Keith Idec
ATLANTIC CITY, New Jersey – Jean Pascal called Dmitry Bivol boxing’s best light heavyweight after they fought, just as the former champion had done before Bivol beat him Saturday night.
Bivol appreciates Pascal’s praise, but the unbeaten WBA champion still feels he must prove that he is better than the three other 175-pound title-holders in the ring. Kyrgyzstan’s Bivol gave his outlook on his division during a post-fight press conference at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino.
“The guy who has the belts, these guys are the best,” Bivol said. “I’m not the best in the light heavyweight division. I’m one of four. We just should make fights to understand who is the best. I can say everything, but it doesn’t matter because I would rather prove who’s the best. Even if it includes me, I would rather prove who’s the best, the same way other champions had to prove it.”
The 27-year-old Bivol (15-0, 11 KOs) had hoped to fight newly crowned WBO champ Eleider Alvarez on Saturday night. The Colombian-born, Quebec-based Alvarez (24-0, 12 KOs) instead opted for an immediate rematch against Sergey Kovalev, a fight he contractually owed Russia’s Kovalev (32-3-1, 28 KOs) once Alvarez knocked out Kovalev in the seventh round August 4 at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino.
Pascal accepted what was a very difficult fight for the 36-year-old Canadian versus Bivol once Joe Smith Jr. decided to instead pursue a shot at IBF light heavyweight champ Artur Beterbiev. Long Island’s Smith (24-2, 20 KOs) and Russia’s Beterbiev (13-0, 13 KOs) have agreed to fight on an undetermined date early in 2019.
The remaining recognized light heavyweight champ, Adonis Stevenson, will make his next WBC championship defense Saturday night. The 41-year-old Stevenson (29-1-1, 24 KOs) is scheduled to meet mandatory challenger Oleksandr Gvozdyk (15-0, 12 KOs), of Oxnard, California, in a fight Showtime will televise from Videotron Centre in Quebec City, Canada (7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT).
“This fight was supposed to be a unification fight, because Dmitry has been asking for unification fights since he became world champion,” Vadim Kornilov, Bivol’s manager, said regarding his unanimous-decision defeat of Pascal. “So that’s the goal. That’s what we’ve been trying to make. You know, that’s what we’re gonna try and do next.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.