Boxing is a funny sport at times. The key is to win, and that's the first thing that a fighter needs to focus on. A win at all costs mentality is an absolutely must have for fighters in the upper echelons of the sport. Sadly though some fighters miss out on a secondary goal, "to entertain". If you don't entertain fans will struggle to care, no matter how goo you are. Especially if you appear to be cruising fight after fight, in risk free performance after risk free performance. Safety comes first, for sure, but it's not 100% about winning and winning safety.
Without drama there is no reason to watch.
One fighter who needs to realise that fans to appreciate comfortable yet safe cruising is WBA Light Heavyweight champion Dmitry Bivol (17-0, 11) who, yet again, appeared willing to kill the entertainment factor to win. And he did so against an opponent who served as little more than a tough, durable, but gun shy foe, in the form of Lenin Castillo (20-3-1, 15).
Going into the bout Castillo had been derided as a poor opponent. In reality he wasn't a poor opponents, he was a lazy one. He had skills, toughness and solid pop, but lacked desire and ambition. That was on show early on here, as Bivol quickly figured his man out, but never pushed. He never fought out of his comfort zone, and Castillo was never forced out of his. When Bivol could have let things go a bit more and force Castillo to show something he didn't. When Bivol knew Castillo didn't want to bite down and fight back he never took the fight too him.
Bivol was in total control, he even dropped Castillo in round 5, but never looked like he wanted to use that control to entertain. He looked like he was happy to simply out box an opponent who was happy to make up the numbers.
The few rare times that Bivol to up the output, such as late in round 8, he had Castillo in problems, and showed he had it in his arsenal. Yet the work rate was never sustained, and he never looked to make a statement. Instead of going in and taking out his man he was happy to just win the roads.
After 12 rounds the bout was scored 120-107 and 119-108, twice. It was however another bout that has further damaged Bivol's standing in the sport and again made him look like he's 100% focused on winning, and has no interest at all in entertaining, making the most of his opportunity or having fans want to see him.
Bivol is massively skilled, but these dreary 12 round decisions wins, which are getting more and more 1-paced and undramatic, will turns fans off him and quickly. He's become tedious to watch and someone in his team really needs to have a word with him. Decisions themselves aren't the issue, is the way he goes about them, fighting in second gear, that is the issue, and is a problem that needs to be solved. Quickly.
On Saturday night we had a WBA Light Heavyweight title bout, that saw defending champion Dmitry Bivol (16-0, 11) [дмитрий бивол] successfully defend his title against heavy handed American challenger Joe Smith Jr (24-3, 20). On paper this looked like it could have been a potentially tricky assignment for Bivol, but he managed to really just neutralise the dangerous challenger in what was a clear but unexciting win for Bivol.
Smith showed ambition from the off, and came forward, trying to set the pace but quickly found Bivol's footwork and movement to be too much. Bivol would land, get out of range and watch Smith miss. For the first 3 rounds it was clear that Bivol was too good, too sharp and too smart for Smith who had been made to look second best through the early stages.
Thankfully for Smith he did change things in round 4, when he began to let his hands go a bit more, and up the intensity. It worked and Smith would land one of his more notable shots, seemingly shaking Bivol for a moment with a right hand. The danger of Smith loomed but Bivol was too smart through the middle rounds to really come face to face with the danger. In fact the only real damage in the middle rounds was in round 7 when Smith's knees buckled big time from a huge left hand of Bivol's, though to his credit Smith withstood the follow up attack.
By round 10 it seemed clear that Smith was needing to land something huge, and he actually managed that, right on the bell to end round 10, when he sent Bivol stumbling to his corner. It was too late in the round to follow up on, but did show that the power was there for the American. The shot seemed to leave an effect on Bivol who was less with it in round 11, but never looked in any trouble as he continued to control the bout late on.
In the end there was no questions about the judges scorecards, with the judges turning in scores of 119-109, twice, and 118-110, all in favour of Bivol. It was a clear win for the champion, but a bit of a dull one, and it does seem like Bivol is becoming less and less interesting, a real shame. There is however a feeling that he will be heading down in weight and it may be that facing smaller men than Smith will allow Bivol to put on more entertaining performances than this.
The penultimate HBO card saw Kyrgyzstan born Russian Dmitry Bivol (15-0, 11) [дмитрий бивол] headlining, as he successfully defended the WBA Light Heavyweight title against former champion Jean Pascal (33-6-1-1, 20), who proved to be much gamer than expected.
The opening moments of the fight saw Pascal coming forward, but it was short lived ambition from the 36 year old Haitian-Canadian, who seemed to stop in his tracks when he was caught with a right hand late in the round. Although Pascal wasn't out and out hurt the shot it did seem like his confidence and desire disappeared almost instantly.
In round 2 Bivol began to land more consistently, using his excellent and busy jab. That jab was then used to set up all of Bivol's work, as he methodically broke down Pascal with clean shots to head and body. Pascal, to his credit, did have some moments but they were few and far between early on as Bivol slowly and carefully chipped away at him, seemingly scoring a knockdown in round 4, though it was ruled a slip.
In round 8 Pascal suddenly came alive, catching Bivol with a wild shot and following it up with hard, looping sloppy hooks. He seemed to Bivol who, for the first time, look a little worried, before holding and regaining his composure. It was Pascal's only chance, and it cost him as he seemed to put everything in to the follow up, which Bivol survived, before returning fire with interest.
The start of round 9 was delayed due to the tape on Pascal's glove, giving him additional time to recover his gas before the round began. That extra rest proved to be useful for Pascal who seemed again had moments in round 9 as he upped the tempo, at least for burst, and found the range for his jab and his hook in what was another good round for the challenger.
Bivol seemed like he had had enough of Pascal in round 10 as he upped the pace and began unloading straight shots on to the head of Pascal. Pascal dug in deep and survived the onslaught before pushing Bivol back. Bivol picked up the pace again in round 11 as Pascal was made to look slow through the round, due to Bivol's movement and output, both of which picked up during the round.
Going into the final round it seemed clear that Pascal needed a KO to win. He had done enough to take a round or two, but wasn't even close to being level on the scorecards. Despite Pascal needing a KO it was actually Bivol who was pressing the action in the final round, and it seemed like Pascal was happy to just see out the final bell, something very few expected from him.
At the end of the bout there was no doubting the winner, Bivol had been a clear winner. He had however taken far more shots than he'd have wanted, and ended up with a nasty bruise under his left eye, and had clearly not had the result he was wanting. Sadly for Bivol this is the second bout where he's failed to really shine this year, and although still unbeaten there is clear work to be done before he attempts to unify.
For those interested in the score cards, they were 117-111 and 119-109, twice for Bivol.
This past Saturday fight fans in the US were able to see Kyrgyzstan born Russian boxer-puncher Dmitry Bivol (14-0, 11) successfully retain the WBA Light Heavyweight title, as he scored a clear decision win over the tough and tricky Isaac Chilemba (25-6-2, 10).
The talented Bivol started well and seemed to look the boss early on, but struggled as the fight went on, with Chilemba's defensive skills blunting the usually destructive power of Bivol. In round 7 Chilemba showed the offensive skills to back up Bivol, and it showed flaws in the champion who looked uncomfortable boxing on the back foot. Not only was Chilemba pressing Bivol backwards but had also got a read on him, and was able to make Bivol look a bit predictable with some competitive action.
By the end of the fight Bivol had began looking more and more ordinary, though was generally doing more than enough to win the rounds, albeit competitive rounds. Chilemba though was not doing himself nay disservice and made things tricky round after round for the champion.
After 12 rounds it seemed like Bivol had done enough, but had failed to shine. Despite that two of the judges scored the bout 120-108 for him, whilst the other had the bout 116-112 in his favour.
There will be no one complaining about the result, though Bivol's performance was somewhat underwhelming, whilst Chilemba performed better than expected.
Supposedly the plan had been for Bivol to face off with Sergey Kovalev, in a WBA/WBO unification bout in the near future. Sadly however that plan was scrapped not long after this bout, with Eleider Alvarez upsetting Kovalev with a 7th round KO.
(Image courtesy of Sumio Yamada)
On Saturday night we saw WBA Light Heavyweight champion Dmitry Bivol (13-0, 11) being asked questions he'd never been asked before, though he came up with answers for ever everything as he successfully defended his title against Cuban Sullivan Barrera (21-2, 14).
The fight started cautiously, with both men showing a lot of respect to each other and not taking too many early risks. It was high quality action with Bivol being the more accurate and smart fighter whilst Barrera looked the busier man. The second round saw Bivol suffer a cut, around his right eye from a clash of heads, and for the first time in his career he was suffering some adversity. Despite the cut he really didn't look too bothered by the facial damage and picked up the pressure in the rounds to come, using his under-rated footwork to control the tempo, it was a reserved style, but a very effective one from Bivol.
Barrera, to his credit, was always trying to answer and often pressed the action, though lacked the accuracy to have the success he needed to really back up Bivol, who always looked amazingly composed. Not only was Bivol composed but he was consistently landing his shots, including regular single hard blows, and combinations that were damaging due to their accuracy.
Barrera's toughness was impressive but he was wasting down from the shots, and seemed to have the fight beaten out of him at times, before his heart forced him to fight back. It was the same heart and desire that has made Barrera one of the most fan friendly Cubans in the sport, but also one that has caused him to take a lot of punishment through his recent bouts.
In round 12 Bivol upped the pace, as if he had been holding something in reserve and landed a brutal combination, punctuated by a hard right hand that sent Barrera down hard. The Cuban, even with all his heart and bravery, didn't stand a chance and failed to recover to his feet in time to beat the count. Instead the Cuban suffered his first stoppage loss, whilst Bivol scored the statement win he, and his team would have dreams of.
The future for Bivol is really exciting, and he may well be the most rounded Light Heavyweight on the planet. Though after the fight he admitted he had improvements to make, and will be looking at the what has caused him to get cut, and for the lumps to form on his head. For Barrera this is probably the start of the end, and he may not have too much left in his body after this loss, and his recent bouts.
Kyrgyzstan born Russian based Dmitry Bivol (12-0, 10) [Дмитрий Юрьевич Бивол] has been seen by many of the sport's hardcore fans as a future star, and potentially the next big star of the Light Heavyweight division. Today he had a chance to showcase his ability, and make his first defense of the WBA title as he took on Australian Trent Broadhurst (20-2, 12) in Monaco.
The opening moments saw Broadhurst show some genuine ambition as he came out with his jab, though it wasn't before Bivol was himself moving forward, using his intelligent pressure to back up the challenger. The pressure saw Broadhurst going down, and having a knockdown scored against him despite it being unclear whether it was a punch that actually sent him down. Despite coming forward Bivol was incredibly patient, and didn't need to show his high work rate to have the challenger backing up.
In the final seconds of the round Bivol landed a very pure right hand and Broadhurst went down hard. Although the shot didn't seem like a huge punch it was so clean and pure that it caught Broadhurst perfectly and there was no getting up from the shot.
After the fight Bivol gave a great interview, showing some solid understanding of English and making it clear that he wants to be a star in the West, having his bout shown in the UK and US. There are big bouts out there for him, which will test him much more than this one, but this was a great way to announce himself to fans who hadn't seen him before. For those who had been part of the “Bivol Express” this performance just goes a little bit further to showing what a talent Bivol is.
Every so often a fighter comes along that looks special, the most recent of those is Dmitry Bivol (7-0, 6) who successfully claimed the WBA “interim” Light Heavyweight title with a dominant win over Felix Valera (13-1, 12).
The talented and hotly tipped Bivol was stepping up in class, as he has done with everyone of his fights, and was expected to be pushed hard by Valera, who had impressed in out pointing Stanislav Kashtanov last year. Instead however he made it look easy as he showed a real maturity and calmness to his boxing from the first round.
The opening round was a slow and patient from both men, with neither looking to take risks. As the fight progressed the risk taking didn't really change, but Bivol managed to up the pressure, force Valera backwards. When he was doing that he was winning rounds with his calm and accurate punching being too much for Valera who was trying to counter, but wasn't given the opportunity. In round 3 that work rate saw Valera struggling, whilst in round 5 Valera seemed to show the first signs that he was worried about Bivol's power.
It was smart of Valera to be wary, but that didn't help and in round 6 he was caught by some bombs from Bivol, who dropped Valera and almost came close to stopping Valera who was very lucky to see out the round, and looked completely done.
Valera had recovered in round 7, but that was a temporary relief with Bivol unloading on Valera in round 8, and against dropping dropping the champion, who was forced to take a huge amount of punishment through the round.
Knowing he was well in the lead, especially given the two knockdowns, Bivol seemed to relax, slow down and take a breather in round 9. The championship rounds again saw Bivol step it up, but it seemed clear that he was happy to take the win without risking too much, he came forward, patiently and intelligently pressed the action and although Valera had his moments it was always a controlled effort from Bivol.
Given the dominant performance their was no doubting the winner, with Bivol taking the bout thanks to scores of 119-107, twice, and 116-111.
World Title Results
Whether you like them or not World Titles add prestige to any bout as a result we've included the results of world title bouts in this special section.