WBA “Super” light heavyweight champion Dmitry Bivol defends his title for the fifth time against former super middleweight titleholder Gilberto Ramirez Saturday on DAZN from Etihad Arena in Abu Dhabi.
The 31-year-old is coming off a dominant unanimous decision win over Canelo Alvarez back in May. Now he's aiming to cap off the year with a win over “Zurdo” Ramirez.
Bivol (20-0, 11 KOs), of Russia, fought for the WBA interim title in his ninth pro bout, which he won via fourth-round TKO over Robert Berridge in February 2017. Following another fourth-round stoppage victory over Cedric Agnew in June of that year, Bivol was elevated to WBA's “regular” champion. After making five defenses of that belt, the sanctioning body promoted Bivol a second time to “Super” titlist leading up to his October 2019 unanimous decision win against Lenin Castillo. He has held the honor ever since.
The Mexican challenger has been calling out Bivol for a while, and now he has the opportunity to become a two-weight world champion. Ramirez (44-0, 30 KOs) defeated Arthur Abraham by unanimous decision in April 2016 to win the WBO 168-pound title and made five defenses of the belt before moving up to light heavyweight in 2019.
𝐒𝐎𝐌𝐄𝐎𝐍𝐄'𝐒 𝟎 𝐇𝐀𝐒 𝐆𝐎𝐓 𝐓𝐎 𝐆𝐎
Dmitry Bivol vs. Gilberto Ramirez for the WBA World Light Heavyweight Title 👑
— DAZN Boxing (@DAZNBoxing) November 3, 2022
After scoring knockouts of Tommy Karpency and Alfonso Lopez, Zurdo signed a multi-fight promotional deal with Golden Boy Promotions in February 2021. Now the 31-year-old southpaw is on a five-bout KO streak after defeating Sullivan Barrera, Yunieski Gonzalez, and Dominic Boesel.
Will Bivol be able to build off his impressive win over Canelo? Or will Zurdo use his superior size and strength to cut off the ring and come away with the victory?
DMITRY BIVOL VS. GILBERTO RAMIREZ BREAK DOWN
Bivol is the more accomplished fighter. Even before his win over Canelo, he was criminally underrated. He knocked out a prime Sullivan Barrera and dominated Jean Pascal and Joe Smith Jr., who only managed to land 19 punches in 12 rounds. After a triad of underwhelming fights, many wrote him off against Alvarez. Instead, he was in total control from the opening bell. Forget about the lousy scorecards that gave Canelo five rounds apiece. He won no more than three rounds, and that's just the truth.
According to Compubox, Bivol has outlanded his opponents in 37 consecutive rounds and 75 of his last 76 overall and has not been outlanded in a round since 2018. Furthermore, Bivol has landed 388 jabs in his previous three fights alone, including 178 against Umar Salamov. Ramirez isn't the most nimble, so I suspect he'll be an open target for those jabs throughout the fight.
Bivol can sneak that jab through small, tight spots; a huge factor is his footwork. He makes small shifts that help him sneak that shot through the high guard like a sniper, and he's constantly changing levels. It disrupts the rhythm of his opponents, and it prevents them from setting up their shots.
Bivol also makes adjustments while he's in the middle of throwing combinations. If one thing doesn't work, Bivol will make a circling movement or a half-step, and those few inches make all the difference. We saw that against Canelo, and the Mexican was taking punishment against the ropes. It will be a long night if Zurdo can't get past the jab. He may have to get reckless to land a good shot, but that also gives Bivol a prime opportunity to counter him on the inside and let his hands go.
Ramirez is a solid offensive fighter with a good jab and impressive bodywork and looks great when he's in control of the rhythm and the pace. When his opponent applies pressure and forces him to fight off the back foot, he can deviate from the game plan enough that he'll take a lot of punches. We saw this to an extent against Jesse Hart and Gonzalez, but those were average fighters. Bivol is elite. We have a complete fighter squaring off against a good offensive, one-dimensional fighter.
This fight reminds me of a good quarterback who puts up decent offensive numbers when he has time to throw in the pocket playing against an elite defense. A good example would be the Super Bowl between the Denver Broncos and the Seattle Seahawks back in 2012. This is how Bivol-Ramirez will play out.
DMITRY BIVOL VS. GILBERTO RAMIREZ PREDICTION
Bivol by unanimous decision (119-109).
Check out our full breakdown of the most popular odds for Bivol vs Ramirez from major bookmakers.