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Dmitry Bivol calls out Sullivan Barrera

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On Saturday at Madison Square Garden, World of Boxing hosted a media roundtable with WBA Light Heavyweight World Champion Dmitry Bivol (12-0, 10 KOs). Bivol, the 26-year old from St. Petersburg, Russia by way of Kyrgystan, Moldova and Korea, charmed the media who came out to see him, many of whom met the young champ for the first time.

The wide-ranging conversation touched on Dmitry’s childhood in Kyrgystan, his Korean heritage, how we got into boxing, and the current state of the light heavyweight division.

On the light heavyweight division and his place in it, Bivol said, “number one is vacant. I’m not sure who exactly is the best. Maybe we’ll have a chance to figure it out.” He later continued, “I’m very happy for Andre Ward because I’m very happy for all the athletes that finish their careers on a successful note. But, of course, I’m upset that my division lost a really important opponent for me. Judging by the last couple fights of Andre Ward, he could definitely have stayed for a couple more and showed more fun battles for his fans.”

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Bivol was asked how he would approach fighting on HBO and when he might fight two-time light heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev. He replied, “It’s a hard question. It depends on my opponents just as much as it depends on me. If I keep showing very good fighting against all the different opponents, then hopefully the American people would be just as happy to see me as they are to see Kovalev.”

When asked if it’s true that he prefers knocking out his opponents, Bivol said, “I don’t necessarily like knockouts, but the crowd likes knockouts. They buy tickets, they come to see boxing because they like knockouts. They like to see blood, they like to see war. So, I like to fight so people are satisfied with buying my tickets and seeing my fights.”

Unlike many fighters, Dmitry did not get into boxing as a way of getting out of street fighting. He explained, “I was a huge fan of Jackie Chan growing up, so I kind of got into boxing because I wanted to do the same kind of stuff as Jackie Chan.”

The New York reporters were eager to know if Bivol had dreamed of one day fighting at “The Mecca of Boxing.” Dmitry said that, as an amateur, “it was my coach’s dream that his student would be fighting in the biggest boxing arena in the world, specifically Madison Square Garden, and I’m hoping that this will happen.”

It was also announced that World of Boxing will partner with Main Events on Bivol’s next fight, which will take place in the United States. World of Boxing is working with HBO Executive Vice President Peter Nelson to pick a date for the world champion’s second title defense. Andrey Ryabinsky of World of Boxing said, “In the first quarter of next year, we plan to organize a fight for Dmitry Bivol in the USA. We hope that we will be able to negotiate a deal with one of the top opponents in the division. Dmitry is ready to fight the best and has been asking for a top-rated opponent.” Bivol’s manager, Vadim Kornilov, added, “We are very excited with the way Dmitry’s career has progressed and are looking forward to his next appearance in the US, possibly in the legendary Madison Square Garden arena!” When asked about working with a US promoter, Bivol stated, “World of Boxing is partnering with Main Events. I’m happy with that.” Main Events CEO Kathy Duva adds, “Dmitry has the potential to be a big star here in America and on HBO. I look forward to showing World of Boxing, Dmitry, and Vadim what we can do!”

As it was Dmitry’s first time at Madison Square Garden, after the media roundtable he received a VIP tour of the facility, then sat ringside for the Kovalev-Shabranskyy event, promoted by Main Events and Krusher Promotions in association with Golden Boy Promotions and Shuan Boxing Promotions.

In the main event, two-time light heavyweight world champion Sergey Kovalev defeated Vyacheslav Shabranskyy to reclaim the WBO Light Heavyweight Title. In the co-feature, Sullivan Barrera topped Felix Valera in a contest to determine Bivol’s mandatory challenger.

After the event, Bivol tweeted that he would like to meet Sullivan Barrera in the ring:

“I have not changed my mind about Barrera – he’s a technical fighter with a hard punch. I would very much like to go out against him in the ring. For me it will be a serious experience, a serious challenge, a good chance to see a spectacular fight for boxing fans #BarreraValera”

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