By Dan Ambrose: Andre Ward says the undisputed light heavyweight championship needs to take place next between 175-lb champions Artur Beterbiev and Dmitry Bivol.
Ward feels that Beterbiev-Bivol is the fight the boxing public needs, and he’s like for Anthony Yarde and Gilberto ‘Zurdo’ Ramirez, the two fighters that have been ordered to face the champions, to step aside.
Unfortunately not likely to happen. Beterbiev’s promoter Bob Arum is the one that wants to make the fight with Yarde for some reason, even though it won’t help Artur because the British fighter is an unknown as far as American boxing fans are concerned.
Zurdo Ramirez (44-0, 30 KOs), who the WBA recently ordered Bivol to fight on July 11th, wants to take advantage of Dmitry’s recent win over Canelo Alvarez to gain some popularity by beating him.
In Ramirez’s eyes, if he beats Bivol, it’ll raise his status among boxing fans due to his win over Canelo, and it might even lead to the Mexican star facing him. You can argue that it’s a flawed assumption that Gilberto has because Canelo won’t fight him, even if he were to beat Bivol.
With Ramirez rehydrating to 203 lbs for his last fight against Dominic Boesel, Canelo won’t want to fight him. Also, Ramirez isn’t popular, and no one in the boxing world is raving about his technical skills as they’d done about Bivol. The only thing Ramirez has going for him is his size. He’s a big lump.
“Dmitry Bivol, who is undefeated, and we used to see him back in the HBO days. We used to call some of his fights together when he was a rising prospect,” said Max Kellerman to ESPN. “He just beat Canelo Alvarez [last May on DAZN].
“I always thought Bivol was the guy with the best chance to beat Canelo at 175 and south. He’s a very good technical boxer. Artur Beterbiev is a Russian tank, also undefeated, and recently blitzed Joe Smith. He’s won all his fights by knockout, Beterbiev.
“Once you retired, Andre, it was obvious to me that these two were going to take over the light heavyweight [Beterbiev & Bivol]. If that fight can be made, Beterbiev-Bivol, who emerges as the undisputed light heavyweight championship of the world?” said Kellerman.
“Listen, it [Beterbiev vs. Bivol] can be made, and it needs to be made,” said Andre Ward. “I know Anthony Yarde wants his shot [against Beterbiev], and I know Zurdo [Ramirez] wants his shot [against Bivol]. I’m not trying to dismiss those fighters, but let Bivol and Beterbiev get past that.
“This is the fight we need. If these two guys fight, I got to lean towards the guy that can do more [Bivol]. I’m not saying that Beterbiev is just a brawler, just a guy that can punch, but Bivol can do more. Let’s call it what it is.
“I’m always going to lean towards that guy. My only question would be with Bivol is pre-Canelo; it was temperament. If he can get dirty, can he get dirty? If he needs to bite down on the mouthguard and take one to give one, can he do it? He answered that question for me.
“So, short of Beterbiev catching Bivol and knocking him out cold, Bivol can get out of harm’s way. You’ve seen it. I made a career out of taking guy’s greatest strengths away from them, and I think Bivol, with his amateur pedigree and what he’s shown as a professional fighter, what he showed in the Canelo fight, he can make an adjustment and employ a plan that can make a guy like Beterbiev not look like himself,” said Ward.
“I want to get this in. Bivol has quick feet,” said Kellerman. “The guy that can move around, if other things are similar, that guy has the advantage. If there were a super brawl like a Super Bowl, with all the best fights that could be made in boxing on the same card, Bivol-Beterbiev would be one of them for sure,” said Kellerman.