FOR a while now we have been wondering what the reward for beating Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez looks like in real, tangible terms and now, thanks to yesterday’s announcement regarding Dmitry Bivol’s next fight, we have our answer.
The reward for beating Canelo Alvarez, boxing’s premier global attraction, is apparently this: a November 5 fight against another Mexican, Gilberto Ramirez, in Abu Dhabi. That, by all accounts, will be Bivol’s next assignment and it will, in comparison to what he has just experienced, be a somewhat low-key one, too.
That’s not to say it’s a bad fight, Bivol vs. Ramirez, nor one to avoid. However, when one considers what is next on the horizon for Alvarez, the man Bivol defeated, it is hard to not feel slightly underwhelmed on behalf of Bivol, who dazzled so impressively back in May and would have hoped, whether realistic or not, to use that fight as a launchpad to fights of similar ilk and prestige.
Next on the horizon for Alvarez, of course, is another big fight in a career full of them. It takes place on September 17 in Las Vegas, still boxing’s Mecca, and opposing him will be Gennady Golovkin, his old rival with whom he has shared two previous fights. Together, Alvarez and Golovkin will make a lot of money in Sin City and receive a great deal of attention to boot. Together, they will also prove that recent form does not, in boxing, trump name power or indeed past form, thus proving that Alvarez’s dalliance at light-heavyweight was not at all detrimental to his legacy or bargaining power.
Should it be, though? All things being equal, maybe it should be Bivol fighting a superstar name in a town fit for superstars. Maybe it should be him, not Alvarez, who soaks up the available limelight and tries as best he can to replace Alvarez as one of the sport’s foremost “names”.
Then again, this is boxing, and boxing, rightly or wrongly, has never really worked like that. Nor will it ever work like that. Instead, in this instance, while Alvarez is off peacocking once again in front of the eyes of the world on September 17, Bivol, 20-0 (11), will be starting training camp ahead of a fascinating but easily missed world-class “trade fight” against Ramirez, his WBA mandatory challenger, later this year.
“The fight with ‘Zurdo’ has been brewing for some time and many things have been said,” the 31-year-old Russian said. “Now we have the chance to take care of things with our actions in the ring, and not our words outside of the ring.”
As for Ramirez, a Mexican southpaw in desperate need of a test, this could end up being his Bivol vs. Alvarez moment. The 31-year-old is now up at light-heavyweight, following a two-and-a-half-year reign as WBO super-middleweight belt-holder, but has spent the best part of three years brushing aside a series of overmatched 175-pounders with seemingly no plan or direction in mind. He will therefore have been eager for this, an opportunity to move one step closer to making the kind of money enjoyed by other pre-eminent Mexicans.
“I’m happy that the fight is finally happening despite all the challenges,” said Ramirez, 44-0 (30). “It’s been a long time coming and I look forward to a great night come November 5. I would fight Bivol anywhere, including Mars, but I know we’ll put on a great show in Abu Dhabi. I’m happy overall and very thankful to the WBA, Mr. Gilberto Mendoza and the Golden Boy family for being on this journey with me.”
No doubt Bivol and Ramirez will be paid handsomely for their light-heavyweight fight on November 5, and perhaps that’s all that matters, yet the unavoidable “business” element of this brilliant battle of unbeatens leaves a somewhat bitter taste. It is, alas, the latest in a growing list of fights to be held in the Middle East, where money is made but fights can go largely unnoticed. It is, despite the wealth it exudes, anything but the backdrop a matchup of this quality deserves.