Bivol: Mikhalkin Underestimated; Not Easy Opponent for Kovalev

By Keith Idec

Dmitry Bivol is much more familiar with Igor Mikhalkin than the vast majority of fans and reporters wondering why they should believe Mikhalkin has any shot whatsoever at upsetting Sergey Kovalev.

Based on what he has heard and read, Bivol is convinced people are underestimating Mikhalkin as his fight against Kovalev nears. Kovalev (31-2-1, 27 KOs), the WBO light heavyweight champion, is about a 20-1 favorite over Mikhalkin (21-1, 9 KOs), a fellow Russian who owns the IBO 175-pound championship, in their 12-round match March 3 in The Theater at Madison Square Garden.

Kyrgyzstan’s Bivol (12-0) will defend his WBA light heavyweight title against Cuba’s Sullivan Barrera (21-1, 14 KOs) in the opener of HBO’s “World Championship Boxing” doubleheader March 3.


“Obviously, Kovalev is the favorite in the fight,” Bivol said Wednesday during an open workout in Norwalk, California. “But I do think people are underestimating Mikhalkin. He’s not an easy fighter. He's not an easy opponent.”

The 32-year-old Mikhalkin has won 10 straight fights since he lost a 10-round unanimous decision to Poland’s Aleksy Kuziemski (23-5, 7 KOs) in May 2010. He’ll make the second defense of the IBO title he won by topping previously unbeaten South African Thomas Oosthuizen (27-1-2, 16 KOs) by unanimous decision May 19 in Hamburg, Germany.

As for his own bout, Bivol realizes Barrera is more accomplished than any of his first 12 professional opponents. He is still roughly a 5-1 favorite over the mandatory challenger for his WBA 175-pound title.

“I want to fight with the best guys,” Bivol said. “Barrera accepted our challenge. I’m glad he did.”

If the hard-hitting Bivol can beat Barrera, the emerging champion will pursue title unification fights against the Kovalev-Mikhalkin winner and another Russian knockout artist, IBF champ Artur Beterbiev (12-0, 12 KOs). Bivol will try to remain patient if those meaningful fights don’t materialize immediately.

“Any good fighter probably has difficulties with getting guys in the ring, fighting the right guys,” Bivol said. “But my job is to train and I believe, I really believe, that my team is going to be able to come together and make things happen. I know they can.”

Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.

User Comments and Feedback (Register For Free To Comment) Comment by DuckAdonis on 02-22-2018

Nah Mikhalkin is a pretty solid boxer...but i cant ever see him beating Kovalev. Though he's still top 15 in the division

Post a Comment - View More User Comments (1)
Top Headlines Golden Boy on ESPN - LIVE Results From Cancun, Mexico Photos: World Boxing Super Series - Season 2 Fighters Face Off Photos: Alberto Machado, Rafael Mensah - Ready For Battle Alexey Egorov Will Look To Make a Statement With Lateef Kayode Jarrell Miller Joins Broadcast Team For Whyte vs. Parker Lamont Roach Aims To Follow in Hurd's Footsteps, Win Title Photos: Jaime Munguia, Liam Smith - Ready For War in Las Vegas Burnett-Donaire, Inoue-Payano For WBSS Bantamweight Tourney Prograis-Flanagan, Taylor-Martin Set For WBSS Quarterfinals Whyte vs. Parker: Referee Selected is Ian John-Lewis Photos: Christopher Diaz Putting in Work For Ito Title Fight Video: Freddie Roach Talks Pacquiao, Canelo-Golovkin, More Sergey Lipinets vs. Erick Bone Set For Berto-Alexander Card Video: Oscar De La Hoya Breaks Down Munguia vs. Smith Liam Smith: Munguia Never Faced a Fully-Fledged 154-Pounder Jaron Ennis: I Want To Make a Statement in This Fight Photos: Usyk, Gassiev - Ready For War in WBSS Unification Final Povetkin Pleased Joshua Fight Is In London; Feels Less Pressure Easter: Mikey Garcia is Overrated; Broner is Only Name He Beat! Roach: Pacquiao Should Fight Loma at 140, No To Crawford Ennis: There's a Young Killer On Loose In Welterweight Division's Television Picks of The Week - July 20 Mykquan Williams: People Are Gonna Start To Take Notice Whyte Not Impressed: Parker Was a Coward in Joshua Fight! Kazuto Ioka Announces Return, on September 8 at Superfly 3 Wilder: We Tried Everything, Team Joshua Come Up With Lies! Liam Smith Aims To Fight at Anfield After Beating Munguia Kevin Lerena Recovering From Surgery, Likely Back in February Liam Smith Should Give Us Much Better Read On Munguia Than Ali Nacho: Pacquiao Should Think Twice Before Crawford, Loma Peter Quillin: I Want To Make it a Dog Fight With J'Leon Love Golden Boy Prez Reacts To Arum: Canelo Will Beat GGG Easier Photos: Lamont Roach, Deivis Julio Bassa Ready For ESPN Battle Photos: Michael Dutchover is Ready For Battle With Ramirez Ryan Garcia vs. Mercito Gesta Showdown in The Works Photos: Alberto Machado, Rafael Mensah - Go Face To Face Photos: Jaime Munguia, Liam Smith - Go Face To Face in Vegas Photos: Jaron Ennis vs. Armando Alvarez - ShoBox Triple Weights Photos: Robert Easter is Grinding Hard For Mikey Garcia Fight Mikey Garcia: I May Go To 147 By Year's End, I Want Spence!

Latest Active Forum Threads