By Keith Idec
NEW YORK – There are attractive fights for Dmitry Bivol within the light heavyweight division.
A potential title unification fight against WBO champion Sergey Kovalev looms as a realistic possibility for sometime in the second half of 2018. The powerful puncher from Kyrgyzstan also acknowledged a desire to fight former amateur teammate Artur Beterbiev, the Russian knockout artist who recently won the IBF 175-pound championship.
As appealing as showdowns with Kovalev (31-2-1, 27 KOs) and Beterbiev (12-0, 12 KOs) might be, the WBA light heavyweight champion admitted over the weekend that there’s one fight he had hoped to land that no longer seems possible.
Bivol (12-0, 10 KOs) is disappointed that Andre Ward retired because facing the undefeated Ward would’ve provided him with an opportunity to knock off a fighter who was generally regarded as the best boxer, pound-for-pound, in the sport. The 26-year-old Bivol benefited from Ward’s retirement because once Ward walked away from the sport and Badou Jack gave up the WBA world title, the WBA elevated Bivol from its interim champion to its world champion.
He would rather have beaten Ward (32-0, 16 KOs) in the ring to earn that distinction, though.
“I’m upset because our division lost a very important opponent for me,” Bivol said through a translator Saturday night at Madison Square Garden. “I think that judging by the last couple fights for Andre Ward, he definitely could’ve stayed for a couple of more and showed more fun battles for his fans.”
While he is disappointed he won’t get to test himself against the 34-year-old Ward, Bivol appreciates the former two-division champion’s decision to leave the sport with his health, wealth and unblemished record intact.
“I’m very happy for him,” Bivol said, “because I’m very happy for all the athletes that can finish their careers on a successful note.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.