The good news: Dmitry Bivol showed no ring rust and not an inch of slippage in his impressive boxing skills after 13 months out of the ring Saturday against Lyndon Arthur.
As it has been in 11 defenses of the WBA World Light Heavyweight title, there was little doubt of the outcome in the fight between Bivol of Russia, fighting out of Indio, California (22-0, 11 KOs), and Arthur of England (23-2, 16 KOs) from the opening bell.
The disappointing news, if any: Bivol came within seconds of scoring his first knockout win in six years, but Arthur managed to hold off Bivol’s efforts to stop him, surviving the final round to end the fight on his feet. The scorecards were a complete shutout of 120-107.
“For me, I can say it was good sparring,” said Bivol. “Lyndon was in good shape.
“I'm glad at the end of the year I got this fight. Now I see my way to my goal, the undisputed title between the winner of (Artur) Beterviev – Smith. I hope this fight will happen in 2024, the next fight,” declared Bivol.
Master Craftsman Bivol at Work
Thirteen months after his last bout, a fight against Gilberto Ramirez that proved little challenge to him, Bivol has been sitting on the sidelines, losing momentum after his stunning victory over Canelo Alvarez in May 2022.
He has stayed in shape between fights, kept training, and took time out for minor surgery on his right hand. Not a shred of ring rust was visible Saturday. Bivol went straight at Arthur and kept up the pressure in every round. Bivol has the best jab in boxing since Gennadiy Golovkin's prime. It's a power punch in his hands, planting his feet and leveraging his entire weight with speed to deliver it.
Bivol varies his target, stabbing to the body to open up power punching to the head. When he was able to connect with power, Bivol flipped the turbo switch, unloading on Arthur in the quest for the knockout.
Dmitry Bivol Came Close But Couldn't Get The KO
Bivol was on the brink several times and finally dropped Arthur in the 11th round with a body shot set up by all those jabs. After Arthur got to his feet, Bivol knew he finally had a chance and fired everything he could at Arthur.
Veteran British referee John Latham watched carefully, ready to spring between Bivol and Arthur when he felt the challenger had taken too many shots. Latham made a few false starts, and in the end, the bell denied Bivol the TKO.
When Bivol came out for the final round, he made one last run at Arthur, but the stoppage was not in the cards, although the cards were a complete shutout plus the knockdown for the maximum possible scores.
Arthur took the shots well, and credit to him for never giving up. But if Canelo Alvarez couldn't figure out how to keep Bivol off him, how could Arthur be expected to do much better?
Arthur took the bout on four weeks' notice and, after the fight,t gave full credit to Bivol, saying, “He's as good as everyone thinks he is.” Arthur said he was proud of his performance, considering the short lead time before the fight.
Bivol said the hand surgery needed to be tested a bit, along with giving Arthur some respect. “I didn't push sometimes for myself too much. I wasn't sure. Will he have power or not? He was ready for 12 rounds.”
Bring On Beterbiev – Or Callum Smith?
Bivol was also fighting to preserve his opportunity for the one fight he's been waiting for: the fight for the undisputed, unified championship against the winner of the long-delayed bout scheduled in just three weeks between Artur Beterbiev and Callum Smith.
“I want the winner. It's not about the person. Whoever wins, I want that guy,” said Bivol.
Matchroom Boxing chairman Eddie Hearn is no doubt rooting for Smith, who fights under the Matchroom banner. But he'll gladly promote any fight with Bivol in cooperation with the Saudi government, which has expressed interest in the light heavyweight unification fight.
“The undisputed fight is always the biggest fight of the division. I'm sure they've got plans here for that to be Dmitriy against Artur Beterview. We do have other plans. I believe Callum Smith is going to knock him out on January 13. And it'll be Bivol against Callum Smith. But let's see what happens.”