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Unfazed Dmitry Bivol entering fight against Canelo Alvarez

If Dmitry Bivol is distracted by the lights of Las Vegas, his first mega fight and his billing against boxing’s biggest star, he certainly isn’t showing it.

The 31-year-old Russian maintains a stoic demeanor. He rarely smiles or deviates from his gruff, monotonous speech. Until he returns to his hotel room. Then and only then, he is nervous.

Perhaps.

“We were just joking about it. … Dmitry seems really relaxed. It’s only until we get to the bedroom. Then I have to sleep on the couch to make sure I’m there,” his manager, Vadim Kornilov, joked as Bivol smiled beside him. “He’s always really, really focused. … I really believe Dmitry’s mindset is part of why he’s here.

Mindset alone won’t be enough to win over Canelo Alvarez on Saturday night at T-Mobile Arena. But Bivol (19-0, 11 KOs) is defined by more than the mental toughness that propelled him to the precipice of pound-for-pound greatness. He’s the WBA’s light heavyweight champion – equipped with a taller frame, fleet feet and the kind of stiff, scoring punch that once plagued the undisputed super middleweight champion.

Maybe he can dethrone boxing’s pound-for-pound king.

He wouldn’t be here if he thought otherwise.

“If you check Dmitry Bivol’s pulse right now, you might not feel anything,” said his promoter, Matchoom Boxing President Eddie Hearn. “He is icy before this fight. He might be the best 175-pounder in the world.

Quiet Confidence

Bivol is Russian via Kyrgyzstan, where he was born and raised until the age of 11. As a child, he was inspired by boxing, from the age of 5 – admiring not the great champions of yesteryear, but action movie stars like Jackie. Chan and Jean-Claude Van Damme.

He grew up watching their movies, “wanting to fight like them,” he said this week while promoting at the MGM Grand. His father first enrolled him in karate for a few months, “then he took me to the boxing gym and I fell in love with boxing,” Bivol said.

Boxing, he says, is more popular than karate, which allows for more regular competition that would ultimately strengthen his skills. He’s a consummate amateur, bypassing a conventional childhood to tour the world, compile a stellar record of 268-15 and win national, regional and world championships.

“Kids, they’re having fun,” Bivol said. “But I had fun in the boxing gym.”

He turned pro in 2014 when he signed a deal with Russian promotion company World of Boxing. He stopped his first six opponents and won the interim WBA 175-pound title in 2016, earning elevation to the full championship title the following year amid Andre Ward’s retirement.

Bivol’s partnership with Hearn and Matchroom Boxing began in 2019, clinical decision victory over current WBO champion Joe Smith Jr. He has since made three more title defenses, giving him nine overall and making him one boxing’s longest reigning champion – and a worthy opponent for Alvarez (57-1-2, 39 KOs).

“I’m really happy to be able to fight against the best fighter in the world,” said Bivol, who trains primarily in Southern California and lives in St. Petersburg, Russia. “This fight against him shows me what my skills cost. How good my skills (are). It’s a big challenge for me. »

Bivol’s conviction will not be the problem. He reaffirmed that throughout the promotion, knowing he has the tools to trouble the 31-year-old Mexican icon.

Bivol is the natural 175-pounder after all. The champion with the belt that Alvarez covets.

“I’m one of the best light heavyweight fighters out there, and if you’re not confident in your skills. You will never win. You will never get anything,” Bivol said. “Belief helps me to be confident and to be a good boxer in a ring. Because nobody knows. Only God knows who will win.

” What’s going to happen ? Only god knows. We can just believe.

Contact Sam Gordon at [email protected] To follow @BySamGordon on Twitter.