At the Manchester Arena in Manchester, Dmitry Bivol retained his WBA light heavyweight world title via a unanimous decision despite a spirited performance from South Londoner Craig Richards.
The unbeaten Russian is recognized as one of the finest fighters in the 175lbs division, but he was made to work for victory over 'Spider' Richards with scores of 118-110, 115-113, 115-114.
“I’m not happy but I’m okay,” Bivol told Matchroom. “It was a long rest for me and I went into the ring after one and a half years. It’s fine. My opponent was a good fighter, really good. He’s smart and he thinks. He was thinking for the whole fight.
"It’s okay. I was feeling that I’d won. I gave him a couple of rounds for recovery. I landed more clean punches. I respect him and I respected him before the fight. I think he can make problems for all fighters because of his style.
"He moved a lot. Fighters who move a lot and have good speed are really hard. He is a good fighter, but I have more weapons in my arsenal. I’m glad I have had another defense. Of course, I want unification fights. I still want them. I haven’t had a chance to fight for another belt, this is why I defend my belt.
Bivol still hopes to unify the entire division, with two other beltholders out there - WBC/IBF champion Artur Beterviev and WBO champion Joe Smith.
"I’d like to fight for another belt, it would be a good challenge for me. I believe I can become the undisputed world champion one day, this is why I train, that’s why I have a good team. I believe one day I will be if I train hard. Thanks to everyone who supports me and watched this fight," Bivol said.