Dmitry Bivol defends his WBA light heavyweight title this Saturday in Abu Dhabi against Gilberto “Zurdo” Ramirez in a meeting of unbeatens, and we’ve got two more world titles on the line and another kinda-sorta belt on Saturday, too!
Who ya got this weekend?
Dmitry Bivol vs Gilberto “Zurdo” Ramirez
Scott Christ (79-34)
I think Zurdo Ramirez is a good fighter, and I think Dmitry Bivol is beatable. Ramirez will also have some real advantages, and if he can use his height and, more importantly, his fight night weight to his liking, lean on Bivol and wear him down some, this could get really rugged and interesting in the later rounds. I think Zurdo’s also probably the better puncher.
I do think Ramirez has a real chance at winning here, but I have a hard time betting against the truly, genuinely sound fundamental skills of Bivol. He doesn’t make many mistakes, and I don’t think this is a fight where he’ll ever feel comfortable enough to go into cruise control, which could get him in trouble if he does. I think he’ll take this as a serious challenge and stay switched on the whole way. Ramirez will win some rounds, I think especially in the first half of the fight, before Bivol pulls away with a steady attack that limits Zurdo’s ability to open up the way he likes to do. Bivol UD-12
Wil Esco (91-22)
This is easily the biggest and best fight Gilberto Ramirez has been in and I can’t help but wonder exactly how well prepared he’ll be for this outing despite it being a very good matchup on paper. I think Ramirez has a pretty fun style, aggressive with punches in bunches, but I’m also not so certain how effective that’ll be against a fighter like Bivol who has an exceptional jab and is good about keeping a distance that won’t freely allow Ramirez to unload as much as he wants to.
If Bivol turns this into a really technical fight, I think he’s got enough skill and discipline to outpoint Ramirez on the cards, though I’m personally hoping Ramirez gets into close-to-mid range often enough to make this a fun one to watch. I’ll take Bivol over the distance. Bivol UD-12
John Hansen (89-24)
I said earlier this week that no result in this fight would truly surprise me, but I’ve changed my mind on that a little bit. I don’t see Zurdo getting stopped. Primarily because I expect Bivol to come in with a plan to outbox him, and avoid, as much as possible, exposing himself to a punch that could swing the fight. Also, we’ve seen a young and raw version of Ramirez, back when he had obvious, exploitable issues with his defense, stand up to Maxim Vlasov. That was almost eight years ago, but if a much more experienced Vlasov in his physical prime couldn’t punch through the holes in baby Zurdo’s guard, I don’t think Bivol is likely to break him all the way down in this one. It could happen, just like it’s not out of the question that Ramirez could earn a win on the cards. But, those outcomes both seem unlikely.
So, the question comes down to whether Bivol will use his apparent skill advantage to win a decision, or if Ramirez will be able to press him enough to use his size and power to end the fight early. It’s a credit to the talent of both men that either outcome seems very possible. Not necessarily a 50/50 proposition, but reasonable enough that this fight is compelling right from the opening bell, and suggests a style matchup that should keep it captivating until the end, however that ultimately comes.
Ramirez hasn’t been tested against an opponent on Bivol’s level before. That’s not meant as a criticism, because few active boxers would qualify. And Bivol has fought both big guys and skilled guys, but never really anyone with the potential to combine them at Zurdo’s level. My best guess is that Bivol pushes through some moments of real peril, but ultimately wins on clear and legitimate cards. The biggest knock on Bivol is a tendency to give a B+ level of engagement against B+ or worse opposition. But, he still wins those fights clearly. We’ve also seen him handle a beefy boy with a reach advantage in Joe Smith Jr, and outbox a top level boxer in Canelo. We don’t really know where Zurdo’s limits are yet, and I would not be shocked at all if he comes through with a victory on Saturday. But, I think Bivol is a likelier pick, and a safer bet. Bivol UD-12
Patrick Stumberg (93-20)
Whatever criticisms you want to level at Zurdo’s career management, and there’s certainly no shortage, the man can fight. He’s durable, he’s aggressive, his combination punching is slick, and he seems to have really ramped up his power since moving to 175. He’s not a never-was or a pure hype-job, even if he’s going to fall short against Bivol.
Zurdo’s defense figures to be his downfall. He has some very good movement, but once he lets his hands go, he has a bad habit of leaving his chin exposed. This allowed Yunieski Gonzales to bean him with haymakers on multiple occasions, and though Bivol may lack Gonzales’ power, his speed, precision, and timing more than make up for it. Bivol’s own defensive prowess also figures to keep Zurdo from answering the counters with his own, more damaging shots. Whether or not Bivol can bully him the way he did Canelo, the former has more than enough tools in his arsenal to snuff out what momentum Zurdo can generate.
It’ll be competitive, but there shouldn’t be any doubt as to who deserves the win. Bivol UD-12
Chantelle Cameron vs Jessica McCaskill
Current Odds: Cameron -165, McCaskill +130 (DraftKings)
- Scott: McCaskill SD-10
- Wil: McCaskill UD-10
- John: Cameron UD-10
- Patrick: Cameron SD-10
Shavkat Rakhimov vs Zelfa Barrett
Current Odds: Rakhimov -330, Barrett +245 (DraftKings)
- Scott: Rakhimov SD-12
- Wil: Rakhimov UD-12
- John: Rakhimov TKO-9
- Patrick: Barrett UD-12
David Morrell Jr vs Aidos Yerbossynuly
Current Odds: Morrell -1100, Yerbossynuly +600 (DraftKings)
- Scott: Morrell TKO-6
- Wil: Morrell TKO-8
- John: Morrell MD-12
- Patrick: Morrell TKO-5