In recent months Russian wrecking ball Dmitry Bivol has garnered a ream of rave reviews from the notoriously star spangle blinkered US fight media. However, BoxNation subscribers get to scrutinise the undefeated 27-year-old Light-Heavy for themselves this weekend when ‘The Channel of Champions’ deliver a live broadcast of the second defence of his WBA crown.
The St Petersburg based shooting star bumps beaks with silky Cuban southpaw Sullivan Barrera at New York’s Madison Square Garden in what represents his stiffest paid test by some distance.
So why all the commotion? A former standout within the lauded Russian amateur set-up, the straight-backed 6ft Bivol has cut a violent swathe through opposition built of bricks not straw.
Since joining the commercial brotherhood in November 2014, bruiser Bivol is yet to face an opponent with a losing record in his 12 gigs but he has triumphed each time with ten of his victims blown out of the building before the requisite number of rounds were completed.
He is now primely positioned alongside compatriots Artur Beterbiev (IBF) Sergey Kovalev – WBO emperor and Saturday’s feature act – plus long-reigning WBC czar Adonis Stevenson to attempt to fill the sizeable vacuum at 175lbs caused by Andre Ward’s sudden retirement last year.
The middle child of three, born to a Moldovan father and a Korean mother, Bivol’s life began in the glass manufacturing city of Tokmak, north Kyrgyzstan in December 1990 and he first donned the gloves at the tender age of six, hoping to emulate the striking moves of his childhood hero Jackie Chan.
After the family relocated to Russia when he was 11, Bivol conducted a 283-bout amateur career that brought just 15 losses and decoration in the form of two World Cadet titles, plus gold gongs at the European Under 22 and World Combat Games tourneys. Additionally, he was twice national senior champion and won three straight wearing a Russia Boxing Team singlet in the quasi-pro WSB.
Nevertheless, the consistent excellence of redoubtable Russian southpaw Egor Mekhontsev – podium topper a two European Championships plus the 2009 World Seniors and 2012 London Olympics – blocked Bivol’s entry to the most prestigious international meets and, in frustration, he fled to the pros.
Zig-zagging between his adopted homeland and Freddie Roach’s Wild Card Gym in California, Bivol began decimating the division. His first six opponents brought combined stats of 117-46-5 but all were shredded early.
In May 2016, this explosive device with gloves earned his first stripes by schooling 13-0 Dominican Felix Valera over 12 rounds at a Moscow ice rink to bag the WBA ‘interim’ strap in just his seventh outing.
Bivol retained that second tier title with a brace of fourth round stoppages over the credible Robert Berridge (29-5-1) and Samuel Clarkson (19-3), then assumed mandatory status at the WBA by blitzing Chicago southpaw and ex world title challenger Cedric Agnew (29-2), also in four – that’s three rounds faster than ‘Krusher’ Kovalev managed.
Suddenly, the US press began beating the drum and the division’s elite began to play hide and seek. Reigning WBA champ Badou Jack shamelessly abdicated his throne to side step Bivol and accept the challenger’s cut against the aging Stevenson. Upgraded to full Championship status, Bivol near decapitated his first challenger Australia’s 20-1 Trent Broadhurst with a single right cross that could’ve been fired from a cross bow last November whilst HBO and Sky Sports cameras were reeling. No count required!
So, might Bivol evolve into a major global attraction? You bet! In addition to his bone breaking right slam, he brings laser speed, a trip hammer jab, solid mechanics and that high, tight defensive guard so synonymous with Russian amateur graduates. He can outbox as readily as outpunch. While his pro ledger lists just 64 rounds, only his chin remains unproven.
A married father of two, demolition man Dmitry is as wholesome beyond the ropes as he is vicious between. He is more than happy to leave the mud slinging to others, vowing only to ‘put on a good show for the fans.’ His hobbies include nothing more daring than watching ice hockey and cooking.
His endeavours to master English will surely supplement the Transatlantic TV exposure he his starting to enjoy. Promoted by ‘World of Boxing’ in Russia and Main Events in the US, the Vadim Kornilov managed Champion is surrounded by men of influence who can make the right matches at the right times for the right purses.
On Saturday in New York, Bivol gets to load his cannons on one-time world junior Champion Barrera - who boasts a 285-27 amateur CV himself - and has only been bettered by the mercurial Ward in 22 as a pro.
With the victor likely to unify in a big bucks bang-up with whoever prevails in the bill-topper between the ‘Krusher’ and Igor Mikhalkin, it’s conceivable that the soaring Bivol could be at the top of the 175lb mountain before this year is through.
Buy BoxNation to watch Sergey Kovalev and Dmitry Bivol on March 3rd.