2022 has been a year of ups and downs for Dmitry Bivol. Outside of the ring, the 175-lber has had to hear about the horror stories of war back in his home, Russia, but professionally it’s been the finest year of his career.
The 32-year-old ended the year defending the WBA Light-Heavyweight World Championship successfully twice, most recently beating Gilberto Ramirez to take his undefeated record to 21-0.
Ramirez, now 44-1, entered the ring with a perfect record and a serious height and reach advantage, which many thought would give him the edge in the contest. This wasn’t the case as Dmitry romped home with a unanimous decision victory. “I think his size advantage was an advantage and a disadvantage at the same time. I knew that he was a much bigger guy; I trained and planned for this. I had to neutralize his size advantage and use my movement. Also, I took advantage of my speed.”
Although dominant with scores of 117–111, 117–111, and 118–110, the champion was still not completely satisfied with his performance. “I felt that I could have done better, but overall I had a very good training camp, we worked hard for three months, and it was a good performance for me. Every fight is tough. I can't say that it's ever easy… Could it have been tougher? Yes, definitely, but it's never easy.”
Prior to fighting Ramirez, there was another Mexican defeated by Bivol, pound-for-pound star Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez.
Bivol, who was the underdog as he stepped through the ropes that night, won the fight by unanimous decision, 115–113 on all three judges' scorecards. The bout conjured a lot of interest pre-fight, and with the underdog claiming victory, boxing fans now want to see a rematch between two of the best active fighters today.
“The rematch, of course, brings a financial interest, but in reality, I have beat him already. I think the rematch should be of interest to him as most boxers usually try to avenge their losses, but it doesn't seem like he really wants the fight.”
After an incredible 12 months, the Russian finds himself in the conversation of fighter of the year, rightly so, and it’s an accomplishment that would please Bivol. “It would mean a lot to me, of course. I have given my life to the sport of boxing. I am honored to be nominated for such a prestigious award! I will let the writers decide. I definitely think that I am in the top of the list.”
Bivol also ended the year within the top ten ranking of the majority of pound-for-pound listings; albeit each is subjective and opinion, Dmitry has set his sights on being the best rather than one of the best. “I still have more to prove. I believe that when I can say that I have beaten the best and I have all the titles, I can feel that I am the best.”
Fellow Russian Light-Heavyweight, and rival, Artur Beterbiev will start the year defending his world titles against Londoner Anthony Yarde. The WBA champion will have a keen eye on the fight as he is looking to add the IBF, WBC, and WBO titles to his collection.
“I am interested in the unification and potential undisputed status in my division! It has always been my main goal. I think it's something I have thought about since turning pro; of course, with time, the goal is only getting closer and more meaningful.”
In 2023, the goal is to obtain undisputed status, whether that be at super-middleweight or at light-heavyweight. “I would rather fight anyone who would take me towards my goal of being undisputed. At this stage, it seems like both of these fights, [Canelo rematch and the winner of Beterbiev vs. Yarde,] can be an undisputed fight in different weight classes, and this is very exciting.”
Bivol’s manager Vadim Kornilov stated the immediate plan is for Bivol to fight in America in April or May. At this stage, “it doesn’t look like it will be Canelo as it looks like Canelo is looking to go fight in the UK instead,” Kornilov continued, “he has spoken so much about wanting the rematch, but I have not seen any steps taken from their side except the information in the press.”