The WBA have officially denied a request from Dmitry Bivol’s team for permission to face Joshua Buatsi next instead of ordered mandatory challenger Gilberto “Zurdo” Ramirez, meaning Bivol will have to face Zurdo next or be stripped of his 175 lb title.
Bivol (20-0, 11 KO) is coming off of a huge win over Canelo Alvarez in May, and the WBA officially ordered the Ramirez fight about a month ago.
The good news here is that the fight should be relatively easily made, even if it goes to purse bid. The original order was to complete a deal by Aug. 10 (so today) or go to bids, and the WBA have kept today’s date as the deadline in their ratification of the order.
Matchroom wanted to do Bivol vs Buatsi, but Ramirez (44-0, 30 KO) is a Golden Boy fighter, which means he’s not directly in-house, but both Matchroom and Golden Boy have their broadcast deals with DAZN, do work together when needed or desired, and this fight really shouldn’t be tough to put together.
If, for discussion’s sake, it goes to bids and Matchroom win the rights to the fight, it could take place in the United States or United Kingdom, though the U.S. would seem more likely. If Golden Boy were to win it, they’d no doubt put the fight in California or Texas.
It’s also really unlikely that Bivol will opt to vacate the title. Despite the win over Canelo, it’s still a major part of his leverage, and he’s also repeatedly stated a strong desire to go for the undisputed crown at 175, though that’s a ways off at best.
If Bivol fights and beats Zurdo to retain, the current plan from Matchroom at least is to have him do a rematch with Canelo next May, after which Bivol could possibly look at a fight with Artur Beterbiev, if Beterbiev is still the man who holds the other three belts at light heavyweight. Beterbiev is expected to go to the UK and face a mandatory challenger, Anthony Yarde, in October.
All of this could change, of course. Yarde could upset Beterbiev, Zurdo could beat Bivol, Gennadiy Golovkin could beat Canelo in September and totally tank the Bivol rematch idea even if Bivol beats Zurdo — there are a lot of things in the air as far as these plans go.