By Craig Daly: Dmitry Bivol may need to jump through a couple of hoops by defeating Gilberto ‘Zurdo’ Ramirez AND Joshua Buatsi before he can get to his rematch with Canelo Alvarez, says promoter Eddie Hearn.
This week, the World Boxing Association ordered Bivol (20-0, 11 KOs) to defend against #1 WBA Zurdo Ramirez (44-0, 30 KOs) next.
Matchroom promoter Hearn, who promotes Bivol, says he will ask the WBA for an exception to allow him to face #2 Buatsi (16-0, 13 KOs) next.
If the WBA grants Hearn’s request, Bivol would then need to face Buatsi in October, followed by Zurdo Ramirez in his next fight. Bivol must beat both fighters before he can face Canelo in a rematch in May 2023.
Hearn says there is a possibility that Canelo would still choose to fight Bivol, even if he loses to Ramirez or Buatsi. It would be a “pride” thing for Canelo to face Bivol under those circumstances.
There’s also the possibility that Canelo will use Bivol’s defeat against Ramirez or Buatsi as an excuse for not fighting him again. Hearn didn’t mention the chance of that happening, but you can’t dismiss it.
Assuming Canelo isn’t eager to fight Bivol again after losing badly to him earlier this year on May 7th, Alvarez would be afforded the perfect excuse for not facing him again if he were to get beaten by Buatsi or Ramirez.
It’s a bad deal for Bivol to be stuck having to defeat Buatsi and Ramirez just to get to the Canelo rematch. Beating one of those two should be enough for Bivol to get the rematch, but it’s a tough situation for him to have to defeat both.
In contrast, Canelo has an easier path to the Bivol rematch, only needing to defeat the worn-out-looking 40-year-old Gennadiy Golovkin on September 17th and likely John Ryder in December.
Those are far less risky fights for Canelo than the ones Bivol has in front of him against Ramirez and Buatsi. If the idea is to prevent Bivol from ever getting another fight against Canelo, this would be the way to do it.
You make Bivol run the gauntlet to where he has two tough fights so that even if he comes out of them still unbeaten, he’ll be worn down and perhaps beatable for Canelo.
If the Mexican star had to fight Ramirez & Buatsi in back-to-back fights, he might be in bad shape physically by the time he got to the Bivol rematch.
“In all of those situations, we would have the right to request an alternative fight, an exemption, which we will file with the WBA,” said Eddie Hearn to the DAZN Boxing Show when asked about his reaction to the World Boxing Association ordering WBA 175-lb champion Dmitry Bivol to defend against Gilberto Ramirez next.
It doesn’t matter to Bivol if the WBA gives him an exemption or not to fight Buatsi first. He still needs to fight Ramirez afterward rather than going straight into the lucrative rematch with Canelo.
“We have no problems making the Zurdo Ramirez fight [for Bivol], but we already had plans on making the Joshua Buatsi fight in October,” said Hearn. “So, we’ll speak to the WBA, and Golden Boy will obviously put their argument forward, and whichever way the decision pans out, we’ll have to accept.
“We have a few pending decisions pending with the WBA,” Hearn continued. “Champions have their ideas, and governing bodies and mandatory’s get in the way of those ideas.
“Then you all have to put your reasons forward and work out. That’s one of the situations at the moment with Zurdo and Dmitry Bivol. I have no problem making that fight, but we would like to do another fight first [Bivol vs. Buatsi], and if we’re not allowed, we’re not allowed.
“I think it’s very close,” said Hearn when asked if Joshua Buatsi is a tougher fight for Bivol than Zurdo Ramirez.
“I think Zurdo is a very good fighter, but I don’t think Zurdo has really beaten elite-level light heavyweight opposition, in all honesty. But you can argue that Joshua Buatsi hasn’t either. I think their resumes are quite similar at light heavyweight, to be honest with you.
“They’re both great fights. If we did get the Bivol fight approved for Buatsi, the winner would have to fight Zurdo anyway, and then obviously, there’s the Canelo Alvarez fight waiting in the wings. There’s a bit of a logjam, and I’m sure it’ll all play out.
“Yeah, because Buatsi has beaten everyone there is to beat. It’s time for him to challenge for a world title,” said Hearn when asked if he still wants to match Buatsi against Bivol after watching what Dmitry did to Canelo Alvarez on May 7th.
“Look, everyone has realized that Bivol is probably the best light heavyweight in the world. It’s a toss-up between him and Beterbiev.
“They’re two great champions, but Bivol is finally getting the respect that he deserves, but also the recognition that people have given him for many years.
“Now he has the opportunity to prove that. Now he has against Canelo Alvarez. Whether it’s Zurdo, whether it’s Buatsi, they would all start as massive underdogs in that fight against Bivol because he just beat Canelo Alvarez.
“So, we’ve got the A-side in Dmitry Bivol, and he’s ready to fight all comers. The fact is, to get Canelo Alvarez, Bivol might have to get through Buatsi and Zurdo to get the Canelo fight or just one or two. I don’t know, maybe Zurdo or Buatsi.
“That fights [Canelo] not a definite because he can’t until May. It’s impossible, so there’s always risk in those fights. Hopefully, Canelo and GGG have a tremendous fight in September, and then if Canelo wins, he’ll move forward and look for that rematch. Bivol will be fighting too, and don’t forget, Bivol wants the Beterbiev fight.
“It’s pride; it’s setting the record straight,” said Hearn when told that Canelo will still want to fight Bivol again, even if he loses to Buatsi or Zurdo Ramirez.
“Listen, the Zurdo fight would be a big fight for Canelo. It’s really not necessarily about the titles for Canelo now. It’s about avenging that defeat,” said Hearn.