Home Boxing News Dmitry Bivol scores rare knockout to clear the path to unification bout...

Dmitry Bivol scores rare knockout to clear the path to unification bout against Artur Beterbiev in October

Dmitry Bivol knocks down Malik Zinad. Photo credit: Getty Images

WBA light heavyweight champion Dmitry Bivol 23-0 (12) was supposed to be stepping into the ring against WBC, WBO and IBF 175-pound champion Artur Beterbiev 20-0 (20) at Kingdom Arena in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia tonight.

Instead, he faced late replacement Malik Zinad 22-1 (16) of Libya after Beterbiev was a late withdrawal after suffering a ruptured meniscus.

The 30-year-old Zinad, who resides in Malta, was largely unknown before this bout, even though he did score an upset win over previously undefeated Jerome Pampellone 18-1 (11) on points in Sydney, Australia on April 24.

On paper, Bivol looked like a bridge too far. In reality, he proved to be exactly that.

A three-punch combination from Bivol sent Zinad to the canvas for a flash knockdown in the first. Zinad had pockets of success and arguably won the fourth round, after which he butted heads with Bivol at the bell to end the session.

If he was attempting to rattle Bivol, it didn’t work. Instead, it was more akin to poking a sleeping bear.

Bivol went to work in the fifth and closed the show in the sixth, landing a flurry of punches that hurt Zinad and sent him backwards, staggering around the ring on his heel. Referee Howard Foster stepped in to save the wounded boxer at the 2:06 mark.

It was Bivol’s first knockout in 10 fights, dating back six years.

“Of course I’m happy that I won. I won this fight great. My team are happy and I’m happy,” said the 33-year-old Bivol who was born in Kyrgyzstan, holds Russian citizenship, but resides in the United States.

“I had enough time to change my preparation from a different fighter than Beterbiev. We’re professional boxers, we have to change our tactic at any moment and at any second in the ring and I had enough time to prepare.

“I believe that my power was with me every time, I didn’t have doubts. I need to be focused and ready for October 12, this is what I wanted.”

After the bout Turki Alalshikh, chairman of the General Entertainment Authority in Saudi Arabia, said he wants to put on four or five bouts for Bivol, starting with the rescheduled undisputed clash with Beterbiev on October 12. But the kingmaker’s tough matchmaking didn’t end there.

“We want to see you against [David] Benavidez, against [Jai] Opetaia, the tough people,” he said.

The winner of Bivol versus Beterbiev will be awarded the prestigious Ring Magazine championship.

Bivol spoke to Boxing Social ahead of the fight about how he found out about Beterbiev’s withdrawal from today’s fight.

“It was 3am and I was sleeping when I got the call,” he said. “Okay, the fight’s delayed, what are we going to do now cause I spent two months in training camp, do you have options for me? I went back to sleep and when I woke up I thought, ah, things happen like this, what can I do?

“I don’t want to think about it, I don’t know, even when I had my injury I didn’t know how long I would be out so how can I know about his injuries? I’m not a doctor, you know.”