Andre Ward favors Dmitry Bivol to retain his WBA light heavyweight title by beating mandatory Gilberto ‘Zurdo’ Ramirez on Saturday night on DAZN in Abu Dhabi.
The fight card kicks off at 1:30 p.m. ET at the Etihad Arena, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.
Ward feels that Bivol (20-0, 11 KOs) raised his game recently with his decision victory over Canelo Alvarez last May, showing mental toughness in beating the popular Mexican superstar.
Heading into the Canelo fight, Ward had questions about Bivol, but he answered them with his decisive victory by beating Alvarez by a 12 round unanimous decision.
Ward feels that the 31-year-old former WBO super middleweight champion Zurdo Ramirez needs to perform better than what we’ve seen from him in recent fights.
Ramirez has looked slow and one-dimensional in those fights. Although Ward says Ramirez showed boxing skills against his last opponent Dominic Boesel, it was more of the same primitive slugging from him with very little boxing going on.
“Tomorrow night, Dmitry Bivol will face Gilberto Ramirez. Assuming Bivol wins and he’s a big favorite to do so, light heavyweight supremacy won’t be decided until Bivol faces Artur Beterbiev,” said Max Kellerman on Max on Boxing.
“That match-up, you can see it coming to decide things at 175 pretty much since the day you retired five years ago,” Kellerman said to Andre Ward.
“I think you got to favor Bivol if for no other point, especially coming off the Canelo fight. He raised his game. He showed that he’s not just a good boxer, but he can take it, and he’s also mentally tough.
“That was the questions that I had going into the Canelo fight about Bivol.
Zurdo has had an off-and-on, stop-and-go kind of career. Early on, when we called his fights on HBO, he was surging to be one of the guys at light heavyweight.
“Then, the inactivity caused him to be forgotten. He’s very much in this fight, and he can win this fight, but it’s not going to be easy against a guy like Dmitry Bivol, who can box, who’s mentally tough like I said, and can also slug.
“Zurdo needs to be more than what we’re used to seeing in him. In his last fight, he showed that he can box. He’s tall, he’s long, and he can box. So be Zurdo that comes forward that can bang, that can take two to give one.
“But also show Dmitry Bivol that you can box because boxers don’t like fighting boxers. They love facing guys that come one way,” said Ward.
“If Beterbiev and Bivol were made tomorrow, who would you like?” said Kellerman.
“I’m always going to lean towards the guy that can do a little bit more, and that’s Dmitry Bivol, given that he can take the power punching shots, namely the right hand of Beterbiev,” said Ward when asked who wins between Bivol and IBF, WBC & WBO light heavyweight champion Artur Beterbiev.
“I am right there with you. That’s a fantastic match-up,” said Kellerman.