Former pound-for-pound number one Andre Ward has broken down a potential matchup between WBC and IBF light heavyweight champion Artur Beterbiev 15-0 (15) and his WBA counterpart Dmitry Bivol 17-0 (11).
Ward, who retired undefeated in 2017 with a record of 32-0 (16), believes Bivol will try to box the heavy-handed unified champion.
“He’s a very skilful guy. He may be a little bit undersized for the weight class for the 175-pound division, but he’s skilled. He gets hit sometimes and you don’t want to get hit by a guy like Beterbiev,” said Ward to ESPN UK.
“He has the ability and has the potential and the mindset to beat a guy like Beterbiev. You know Bivol is going to box, that’s going to be his game plan, and I think he can outbox Beterbiev.”
Ward warned against underestimating Beterbiev’s boxing ability, citing his long amateur career as the reason.
“I’m not a guy that normally leans towards a puncher,” said Ward. “I’m a guy that wants a fighter to have multiple things he can fall back on in case that punch doesn’t bail him out. But Beterbiev is a little bit different. I’ve called his fights, watched him, and studied him. He’s different.
“He throws his body into every punch. He’s physically a hard man and he’s strong. He hits extremely hard, and he doesn’t even have to hit you clean. He can graze you, and you can have problems. But he’s also an underrated boxer.
“He has over 300 amateur fights and he comes up from the Soviet system. He’s a lot better skilfully than people give him credit for him and he’s going to be a hard guy to beat.”