Dmitry Bivol put on an impressive display against challenger Gilberto "Zurdo" Ramirez on Saturday in Abu Dhabi to retain the WBA light heavyweight title.
It took Bivol three rounds to feel out his larger opponent, with Ramirez appearing to win rounds two and three while the champion figured out an appropriate plan of attack. From the fourth round onward it was all Bivol, as the 31-year-old stayed on the front foot and forced Ramirez to defend.
The Mexican challenger, who entered the bout with an impressive 44-0 record, could not find a way to back Bivol into the ropes and go on the offensive, outside of limited spells. Instead, it was the champion who dictated the pace of the match and forced Ramirez to react, with Bivol picking out opportunities to land combinations that increased in frequency as the fight wore on.
The bout went the distance, with Ramirez admirably taking everything that Bivol dished out, but it was clear early on that it would take something special to unseat the champion — which did not happen as Bivol won by unanimous decision.
"Zurdo is bigger than me but it doesn't matter," Bivol said after the fight. "I proved myself that I can beat the best guy in the world [in Canelo Alvarez], I was happy. And now, I beat another guy who doesn't know what [losing] is. It means a lot for me.
"I have a goal, I want to be undisputed champion."
DAZN provided live text commentary of the full fight card below.