Dmitry Bivol will fight for the first time in a year and a half on Saturday, as the WBA light heavyweight titleholder returns to defend his belt against big underdog Craig Richards on the Chisora-Parker card in Manchester.
Richards (16-1-1, 9 KO) has been ranked by the WBA for a couple of years in their top 10, but in all reality, only a sanctioning body might consider him a top 10 light heavyweight at the moment. He did win the British title last December, upsetting Shakan Pitters, and also has solid, domestic-level wins over Andre Sterling and Jake Ball, with his lone loss coming to Frank Buglioni in 2017.
“I know this guy is no joke. I’ve made sure I’m prepared in all areas. He’s a good fighter. He likes to be busy at times. He has decent footwork. There’s a couple of good names on his record,” Richards said. “I don’t believe he’s boxed someone who brings the stuff I bring to the ring. I think he’s boxed a lot of different types of styles. I think my style is slightly different and I don’t think he’s crossed that yet.”
How to Watch Bivol vs Richards
Richards says that the bigger the challenge — and this is by far his biggest — the more excited he gets to fight.
“There’s no pressure on me, there’s pressure on him. He’s the world champion. He’s meant to be this big star. He’s meant to be this super champion from Russia,” he said of Bivol. “He’s going to want to go out there and look tremendous. He’ll want to make a statement, so there’s going to be pressure on him to go out there and perform. The pressure is on him, but I’m putting pressure on myself because I want to make sure I get that title and prove everyone wrong.”
If Richards can pull this off, it will be on the short list for Upset of the Year without question. But he probably is right that there’s no pressure here for him, and all of it is on Bivol.