The WBA have officially ordered light heavyweight titleholder Dmitry Bivol to defend his belt against Gilberto “Zurdo” Ramirez, potentially ending any speculation about Bivol’s next opponent this fall.
Bivol (20-0, 11 KO), of course, is coming off of a huge career-booster win over Canelo Alvarez on May 7, and has been slated to return in September or October, with Eddie Hearn and Matchroom Boxing looking to line him up close to Canelo’s return against Gennadiy Golovkin on Sept. 17.
The plan is to do a Bivol vs Canelo rematch next Cinco De Mayo weekend, in 2023.
Ramirez (44-0, 30 KO) is a former super middleweight titleholder whose record is built largely on fluff, including a trio of pretty weak matchups since signing with Golden Boy, hitting bottom in a farcical mismatch against Dominic Boesel on May 14.
But to be fair, Ramirez has said repeatedly that he wants the Bivol fight. At one point, he thought it would have to happen, because he didn’t think Bivol would get the Canelo fight he was chasing. He did, obviously, and he made it count.
Hopefully this is what we get, because the other options are not more appealing. Bivol is not going to fight Artur Beterbiev — who holds the WBA, IBF, and WBO titles — in an undisputed clash by the end of this year. Beterbiev is tentatively set to go to the United Kingdom to face Anthony Yarde, likely the last week of October. And other than that, you’re getting into maybe Joshua Buatsi, maybe someone else, but Ramirez is right there with the best actually available options for Bivol to fight in September or October.
It also really should be an easy fight to make. The sides have until Aug. 10 to negotiate, or they could call for a purse bid before then, at which point Matchroom and Golden Boy would be the obvious two interested parties, and I wouldn’t expect there to be hesitation from either side about sending their guy to a rival promoter. Both companies work with DAZN, so there will be no broadcast issues, and mainly it figures to come down to money.
I wouldn’t expect Bivol to vacate, either, because going undisputed is something he wants to do, and while he might have to wait a while for that chance, he’s already got a foot in the door on doing it.