Dimitry Bivol makes his first appearance since 2019 and his UK debut against Craig Richards in Manchester next week.
What a pity there will not be a live audience in the Manchester Arena to witness one of the marquee names in the light heavyweight division.
Bivol came through the Russian system logging 283 bouts as an amateur and winning all but 15.
He turned pro in 2014 and was a world champion in his 12 th fight, hitting the jackpot in Monaco against Trent Broadhurst for the WBA title.
The fight he and the world wants is a unification against his great Russian rival Artur Beterbiev, who holds the IBF and WBC belts.
Bivol is part of the DAZN camp that has just signed a five-year, nine figure deal with Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom stable.
Bivol’s belated arrival in the UK is no accident. This is about building the brand in a significant market and driving interest in a terrific boxer.
Making the fight with Beterbiev, who is part of the ESPN stable, is possible only if the numbers stack up.
There is a strong lobby backing Beterbiev as the best in the division. I’m not so sure.
Beterbiev is chunky, walks forward and knocks people out. He’s exceptional up close but he can be hurt and dropped.
Bivol is more orthodox, a beautifully balanced, attacking fighter. He uses lots of feints before he lets go and has great feet, moving in and out of punching distance with real poise.
His best shot is his raking left hook but his right is also a powerful weapon.
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I have watched Richards spar a few times with George Groves. He is upright and a little one-paced.
He has improved a lot since his only defeat to Frank Buglioni in 2017, racking up six wins, including victory against Shakan Pitters for the British title last time out.
He had Pitters over in the fourth and closed it out in the ninth. He is a decent puncher but his hands were low and he was up on his toes that night
He can’t hope to succeed against Bivol fighting like that.
Richards could make it awkward in the early rounds but I expect Bivol to stamp his authority on the night and take him out if not by half way then in the championship rounds.
This will be Bivol’s sixth defence. He’ll want to look good making it to tempt Beterbiev into the contest we all want to see.