There are times when the ingredients for what most identity as a major fight throughout combat sports seem to match up perfectly at least on paper. Among those ingredients, two undefeated fighters, one a former world champion attempting to win a world title in a second weight class going against a world champion that is also unbeaten, has been dominant, and when you add into the equation that both fighters are in their competitive prime, the set up for a marquee bout that would be highly anticipated would appear to be close to perfect.
Such a set up was the scenario when undefeated WBA Light-Heavyweight world champion Dmitry Bivol defended his crown against undefeated former WBC Super-Middleweight world champion Gilberto Ramirez on November 5th at the Etihad Arena in Abu Dhabi, U. A. E. A fight that came in the aftermath of the champion Bivol’s biggest win of his career in a dominant successful title defense against multi-division world champion Saul “Canelo” Alvarez in May of this year.
While this observer pointed out the similarities between what Bivol had accomplished against Alvarez and what Hall of Famer Bernard Hopkins had done when he defeated Felix Trinidad in September 2001, in that like Hopkins, Bivol had beaten a fighter considered to be one of the top stars in the entire sport, and was not expected by some to do so, in previewing this fight, Bivol arguably fought the toughest opponent available to him coming out of his victory over Alvarez in Gilberto Ramirez. Ramirez was not only an undefeated former world champion, but had also worked himself into a mandatory challenger position since moving up to the Light-Heavyweight division.
Although there are times when a world champion facing their number one contender/mandatory challenger does not always generate attention, what made this fight compelling came down to the styles of the two fighters in that they could each do a little of everything. When one factors in the differences between the two in Ramirez being a southpaw, who was naturally bigger and longer than Bivol, the fight between the two was compelling to see.
While both men could score knockouts if the opportunity arose, I was not surprised to see a tactical Boxing match between the two where both were willing to stand and engage in the pocket. What stood out to me was even though Ramirez was the naturally bigger fighter with the longer reach between the two, it was Bivol who was dictating how the fight was fought.
If one were to ask me to sum up this fight in a word, it would be “Discipline.” The Discipline of the champion Bivol to tactically pick his spots, land punches in short, compact combinations, and using footwork and lateral movement to keep Ramirez from being able to get his punches off consistently. What was particularly impressive about what yours truly refers to as a disciplined, but scientific Boxing style that Bivol implemented here in this fight was not only the approach, not only the discipline and consistency the champion showed, but also his ability to maintain both even while under fire, particularly in some heated exchanges of offense with Ramirez.
Although such a disciplined style often leads to frustration for opponents, for those who appreciate the tactical skill that boxers can implement, Bivol was quite enjoyable to watch and has been throughout his whole career. One aspect of Ramirez’ offense that I felt worked against him in this fight was he was not consistent in focusing a portion of his attack to Bivol’s body. This resulted in Bivol being able to catch much of Ramirez’ punches with his gloves or using other methods to make the challenger miss such as lateral movement and maintaining distance where he could pick his spots while Ramirez seemed to be a few seconds behind in terms of throwing punches.
All of the above in addition to a significant edge in terms of hand speed, resulted in a performance by the champion that was quite similar to the one that he produced against Alvarez six months ago in terms of his control of the fight and the result, a clear, dominant twelve round unanimous decision to retain his WBA crown for the tenth time. As for what is next for Bivol, the premise going into this fight at least for some was if Bivol were to defeat Ramirez, it would it lead to a big money rematch with Saul Alvarez.
While a rematch of a fight that was dominated by one fighter clearly is not warranted in this observer’s view given what we saw in that fight as well as the fact that the current Undisputed Super-Middleweight world champion Alvarez was moving up in weight to challenge Bivol for his championship and lost, it is important to remember that the sport of Boxing for better or worse can be political and as such, those fighters who are able to achieve the star status that Alvarez has in his career, do have the ability to secure opportunities based on their name recognition clout for a period of time regardless of whether they win or lose.
Although that ability to secure opportunities will obviously be limited if said fighter continues to lose over time, it is not far fetched to think of a rematch between Bivol and Alvarez. Alvarez, who is recovering from recent surgery on his left wrist following his second victory in his trilogy with two-time Middleweight world champion Gennady Golovkin, will likely want to get back in against Bivol as soon as possible. If I were advising Alvarez however, I would suggest that seeking a rematch with Bivol may not be the best decision.
Styles do make fights and after a second dominant performance over someone who like Alvarez is a highly skilled boxer in Gilberto Ramirez, there is no evidence at least at this point to suggest that a rematch between Bivol and Alvarez would have a different outcome.
“And That’s The Boxing Truth.”
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