Dmitry Bivol retains world title with 12 round decision over Craig Richards.
WBA light heavyweight champion Dmitry Bivol defended his belt for the seventh time by winning a 12-round unanimous decision over British champion Craig Richards at Manchester Arena in London, England Saturday night.
Scores were 118-110, 115-113 and 115-114.
Bivol,30, the shorter fighter by an inch or so, pushed Richards, nicknamed “The Spider” back in the opening stanza. Richards glided to his left and jabbed. Bivol (18-0, 12 KOs) landed a glancing left hook and a few jabs to the belly and head. Bivol went back to work in round two. His jab was on point. His left hook scored. Richards fired a right that was blocked. Bivol, bouncing, cracked Richards with a couple of rights to the chin. Richards landed a double jab at the bell.
In rounds three and four, Bivol, a native of Russia, continued to inch towards Richards (16-2-1, 9 KOs) and fire. A left connected. He went to the body. He was measuring Richards. The British fighter landed a solid right hand. Bivol forced Richards to the ropes and opened up. Richards felt his jab was the key. He pumped out a few.
Richards, a 10-1 underdog, tried to get off first in round five. Bivol blocked his punches and landed three scoring shots to the chin. Richards clipped Bivol with a sharp right hand. Bivol continued to be the busier fighter. Bivol worked up and down in round six. He landed a left hook. Richards countered but Bivol ducked out of the way. The patient Bivol cracked Richards with a combination.
Through six rounds, Bivol was completely in control. He feigned and worked in rounds seven and eight. Bivol jabbed and fired the old one-two. The punches landed. Richards was looking but not throwing. Bivol fired more combinations. Richards,31, fought back but couldn’t land solidly. Bivol cracked Richards with a lead right. Richards was more aggressive in round nine. Both fighters connected with shots. The champions punches were harder. Richards was standing his ground and doing better.
The much improved Richards connected with a long right hand in round 10. Bivol, as if insulted by getting hit, fired back. He landed a left hook. Richards went to the body. Bivol finished the wrong strongly.
Rounds 11 and 12 were fought in the center of the ring. Richards scored with a right. He was punching more and scoring, but Bivol fought back. He scored with jabs. Both fighters landed left hooks. Richards cracked home a rib shot, but Bivol again flurried at the end of the heat. Richards obviously needed a knockout in round 12. Bivol worked smoothly in the first minute. Richards was told by his “to let em go” Richards did with a minute to go. Bivol took the blows without incident.
“The fight was tough for me, “said Bivol. “He’s a smart fighter.”