Dmitry Bivol put the finishing touches on what has been a banner year for him by dominating the previously undefeated Gilberto 'Zurdo' Ramirez over 12 rounds at the Etihad Arena in Abu Dhabi. After defeating Saul Alvarez back in May, many wondered if he could defeat the naturally larger Ramirez.
Those questions were answered emphatically by the surgical Bivol, who set the tone early with his feet. Not by shuffling them with his trademark in-and-out movement, but by planting them firmly in the center of the ring.
That tactical statement spoke volumes on just how this fight would play out. Conventional wisdom said that it was Ramirez -- who looked significantly bigger inside that ring on Saturday -- would push Bivol back and pressure him. Instead, from the very onset he was kept at bay by the fundamentally sound Bivol, who is a textbook on controlling spacing and distance with a jab and deft footwork.
As the final bell sounded it was Bivol who won by the scores of 117-111 (twice) and 118-110.
While not a puncher in the class of say, an Artur Beterbiev, Bivol certainly isn't feather-fisted, and his right hand is straight as an arrow. He got the attention of Ramirez late in the first, and as the bout went on, he picked his spots in really sitting down on his shots, and then layering his attack with clean-up left hooks. There were several times that Ramirez was visibly stunned. But to his credit, he heard the last bell.
It was frustrating to some observers that Ramirez was unable to crowd and smother Bivol. But that could be countered by saying that he was unable to employ such a strategy because every time he stepped forward, he was met with a stealthy right hand that dissuaded him from marching forward. Bivol made it clear that any time Ramirez breached a certain air space, he would be made to pay.
Watching this performance, it's clear that Bivol is now performing with a certain confidence after beating Canelo. He is now much more willing to let his hands go in the mid-range, and late in the fight, Bivol laid on the ropes, and found opportunities to catch-and-counter, as he did late in round nine. It was clear, he could out-box and out-punch his Mexican counterpart who simply couldn't match his speed and output.
Bivol is no longer just a highly efficient boxer, now there is some entertainment value to what he does.
The 31-year old technician has made great strides in 2022. From a relatively unknown entity who just happened to have a major title belt (of which he's now made nine title defenses of). Now he is an acclaimed boxer who is now a major player. He has some meaningful options next year. Does he engage in a rematch with Alvarez, or does he go for a full unification versus Artur Beterbiev?
One would be incredibly lucrative, the other would be about long lasting legacy.
"I beat the best guy in the world (Canelo Alvarez) and I was happy. And now I beat another guy who doesn’t know what losing is," said the unassuming Bivol, who still treats boxing more as a sport than a business.
"It means a lot to me. I have a goal. I want to be undisputed champion…I prefer to fight for another belt, but if I don’t have this chance in four or five months, of course, I will take another fight.”
For about five or six rounds it looked as though Zelfa Barrett was on his way to capturing the vacant IBF 130 pound title. Early on he was beating the hard charging Shavkat Rakhimov, and he even scored a knockdown. He was quicker off the trigger, and was standing up to the body attack of Rakhimov.
Unfortunately for him, championship bouts are 12 rounds. And over time, there was an erosion taking place. Rakhimov was willing to walk through fire, and was steadfast in his approach. He just kept plugging away with a two-fisted attack and you could clearly see the tide turning in the eighth.
While Barrett was effective early, he had to work harder and expend more energy than Rakhimov, who for the most part was moving forward in this contest. All the while, the hard hitting southpaw from Tajikistan kept chipping away to the body. Barrett eventually succumbed. It all seemed so sudden, but it really wasn't.
They say that pressure busts pipes. It certainly busted Barrett this weekend.
David Morrell remained undefeated by stopping Aidos Yerbossynuly in 12 rounds on the Showtime main event...Jeison Rosario, who not-too-long-ago was a unified champion at 154, was knocked out in five by Brian Mendoza in five...According to Mike Coppinger of ESPN, Caleb Plant and David Benavidez have signed on the dotted line to face one another in the first quarter of '23....A battle of up-and-coming lightweights, Michel Rivera and Frank Martin will take place on Showtime on Dec. 17....Will it get any worse for Mario Cristobal and his Hurricanes this season?....Georgia staked their claim as the number one team in the country.... I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org....