By Vladimir Lik
Fast-rising light heavyweight Dmitry Bivol, one of more highly touted up-and-comers in the stacked 175-pound weight class, will face former world title challenger Cedric Agnew on the pay-per-view televised undercard of the Andre Ward-Sergey Kovalev rematch on Saturday in Las Vegas.
The 26-year-old Russian earned rave reviews in April when he demolished Samuel Clarkson in four rounds as the main event of a Showtime-televised “ShoBox: The New Generation.” Now the stage gets bigger for the Kyrgyzstan-born boxer-puncher who currently resides in St. Petersburg, Russia.
“This is a very important fight for me,” Bivol, holds the WBA’s interim belt, told RingTV.com his native Russian. “I am so happy that the promoters have entrusted me with this opportunity to appear on the same card as the two best light heavyweights in the world.”
While Bivol might be tempted to try to steal the show (with another KO performance) he also is aware of the experience Agnew brings to the bout and is prepared to go the distance if the knockout doesn’t come.
“You know, I never go into a fight looking for a knockout,” Bivold said. “I always prepare to go as far into the fight as I need to. Then when I am inside the ring of course I will I look for an opening and if I find it then I have to go for it. I have to take advantage of what my opponent gives me. But, before the bout I usually have no idea how it will end. Only God knows.”
It’s not lost on Bivol or his team that Agnew once challenged headliner Kovalev for a world title and all of the division’s top fighters will be watching this bout with great intrigue.
“Fighting on a card like this has been the goal for our team ever since Dmitry turned pro,” said Bivol’s manager Vadim Kornilov. “We were hoping to do it within his first 10 fights, but getting here on the 11th fight feels just as great.”
Bivol added that although he expects a healthy amount of nerves fight night he describes those nerves as good ones.
“The opportunity is very exciting so that’s where the nerves will come from but it’s okay. I want to show my skills to the world,” Bivol Said. “I fought on TV already. I fought 10 rounds, 12 rounds, so as a result I feel that I am ready for this chance.”
Bivol reflected back to this training camp in the Los Angeles area and the famed Wild Card Boxing Club and the tough part of the job where he has to leave his wife and two young sons behind in St. Petersburg.
“As hard as it is to be away from them I believe it is for the best today,” Bivol said. “I am 100% laser focused on my training and my opponent. I would love to have them here because I miss them terribly but the reality is my training would be more challenging”
Bivol said the ritual in their household is that his wife will not watch the bout but at the immediate conclusion, once she finds out the result, she gets in touch with him to ensure her husband escaped unharmed. While Bivol has fought in Russia, even debuting on a Ruslan Provodnikov bout, he is very interested in building his name in the United States.
“This is where the big television fights are and boxing is very popular here,” Bivol said. “The goal for my team has always been for us to be seen by as wide an audience as possible and that’s why I am so happy to be fighting not only in the United States but also on this big card.”
Kornilov believes if Bivol continues to do his work the way he prepares in camp the fan base will grow exponentially.
“You can’t trick the boxing fans,” Kornilov added. “When they see a fighter willing to fight anyone and giving back to his fans in the ring, they respect that. The fans know what integrity looks like in a fighter when they see it.”
Although Bivol does not want to look past Agnew, one of his immediate goals is to meet Nathan Cleverly who holds the regular WBA belt. [Editor’s Note: THE RING does not recognize the WBA’s “regular” titles, and will only view the Ward-Kovalev winner as the holder of the WBA’s world light heavyweight belt.]
“Dmitry is ready to take on a top-10 light heavyweight,” Kornilov said. “But, I also believe that everything should be done patiently and with thorough planning and thoughtfulness and that’s exactly what we are doing.”
Bivol, who sported an amateur record of 285-15 before turning pro in 2014, believes he has done enough in camp to figure out how to penetrate Agnew’s style and make the bout an exciting one.
“We have a plan that I will stick to no matter what,” Bivol said. “Agnew is defensive minded so it will be challenging to break through, but that’s why I need this type of experience. He doesn’t allow a lot of shots to hit him. I will be patient I will look for my opening.”
As for the main event (and quite possibly a future opponent), Bivol said he and Kovalev have many mutual friends so he will root for his fellow Russian though he won’t make a prediction.
“I am the worst at making predictions,” Bivol said with a chuckle. “Usually whatever I try to guess something the opposite happens.”
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Source:: The Ring – Boxing