Talented, yet horribly frustrating seems to be the most perfectly apt description of Kyrgyzstan born Russian based Dmitry Bivol (18-0, 11) and he showed that again tonight with a clear decision win over Englishman Craig Richards (16-2-1, 9). A clear decision that saw a lack of urgency from Bivol, though out, and saw Richards refuse to gamble until far too late, until the bout had already been lost.
The bout, like so many of Bivol's recent bouts, lacked drama, lacked excitement and lacked positive talking points. It resembled more of a friendly spar, than a world title bout. It looked less like Bivol was defending the WBA Light Heavyweight "super" title and more like he was going through the motions, waiting to get an opponent who can drag the best from him. It also, for the most part, looked like Richards had too much respect for Bivol, and wasn't willing to gamble in what was a huge opportunity for him to put himself on the boxing map.
The early rounds sawa lot of back and forth jabs, from both men. The saw Bivol pressing forward, applying very good front foot pressure, but neither man did much. The back key difference between the two seemed to be that Bivol's jab was landing much more consistently, and the pressure was forcing Richards backwards.
In right 3 we saw Richards land a really good right hand, leaving Bivol with a red mark on his head. It was, by far, his best shot up to this point, and yet it proved to be for nought, with Bivol putting his foot on the gas, taking the play away and landing better shots. It was a short lived moment of success for Richards, but one that seemed to come with an almost immediate lesson.
Through the middle rounds we began to see Bivol move up a gear. He looked to be in control, out working Richards, who still seemed timid, but sadly Bivol's best work was in bursts, and with little urgency. He was happy to catch the eye with one or two moments, then control with his jab, taking as few risks as possible. The typical Bivol way. Sadly for Richards every time he did land something good, the play got taken away, Bivol put together something nice, then resumed control the battle of jabs.
By round 10 it seemed clear that Bivol had done more than enough to take home the decision, and he seemed to feel that was the case to as he did very, very, very little in the final 3 rounds. He cruised over the line, and it seemed like his lengthy lay off, of well over a year, was taking it's toll on his gas tank. As a result Richards managed to have good success in the final 2 rounds, as it finally seemed the British fighter realised he was in a world title fight and began to show some urgency of his own. It was, of course, too little too late.
After 12 rounds we went to the score cards, and it seemed a fairy easy one to score. A 8-4 or 9-3 type of fight. That was shown by the first judge, who had it 118-110, but then we saw the other judges turn in cards of 115-113 and 115-114, which make the bout look a lot closer than it was. Despite those two very questionable scores, they all favour Bivol who got the win, shook some ring rust and got the chance to bore the audience once again.
To his credit Bivol had looked sharp early on, but as the bout went on he never managed to move through the gears and he seemed to feel the tempo late on. There was his typical lack of urgency, no real fire power and once again no belief that he had to impress. He just knew he had to win, and didn't care about entertaining fans. Not for the first time he showed he was willing to frustrate fans with a clear win, and without taking risks. Something that will not win over critics, despite the victory.
For Richards he looked less out of his depth than we'd expected, though he never really seemed to be close to winning. He won a few rounds, but they seemed to come more from Bivol easing his foot off the gas, than actually being a threat to the champion.
For Bivol this was a chance to impress. A chance to make a mark. A chance to get fans back onside after some dreary recent performances. Instead he gave us another dull performance and another clear win, at least in the eyes of the vast majority. Sadly it's not the type of performances needed to help make fans clamour for the big bouts.
It's also worth noting that stylistically, this bout wasn't pretty. It was compelling, and interesting, and it lacked clinches. But it wasn't exciting. The styles of the two men, for much of the bout, neutralised each other, they matched up similarly, and sadly in this case, that meant we had two men who simply waited for the other too much, and looked happy to have elongated jab battles, rather than mix it up. A poor match up from a styles point of view, and not one many will go back and rewatch.
As for the judging, the judges who pulled cards of 115-113 and 115-114 from their arses need to go and see an optician straight after the show, and should be made to explain their scorecards.
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.