Dmitry Bivol exposes Gilberto Ramirez, retains light heavyweight title by wide unanimous decision

ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - NOVEMBER 05: Dmitrill Bivol punches Gilberto Ramirez during the WBA Super World Light Heavyweight Title fight between Dmitrii Bivol and Gilberto Ramirez at Etihad Arena on November 05, 2022 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Francois Nel/Getty Images)
Dmitry Bivol handed Gilberto Ramirez his first loss as the WBA light heavyweight champion won a unanimous decision Saturday at Etihad Arena in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Francois Nel/Getty Images)

Gilberto Ramirez may never have been able to beat Dmitry Bivol, no matter how he’d been matched earlier in his career. But it was an illusion on Saturday that Bivol-Ramirez was some kind of big fight.

The only thing that made it a “big fight” was Ramirez’s 44-0 record with 30 knockouts coming in, but that was a con from the get-go, because he was matched incredibly easily throughout his career and was wholly unprepared to fight someone like Bivol.

The first time he fought an elite opponent was on Saturday, and he was clearly out of his depth. Bivol thoroughly outboxed him and was never in trouble, retaining his WBA light heavyweight championship via a one-sided unanimous decision. Bivol won by scores of 117-111 twice and 118-110 at Etihad Arena in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

It was easy work for Bivol. He was quicker, faster and a far more accurate puncher with way more tools in the box and a lot smarter. He was far smaller than Ramirez, but it didn’t matter one iota.

“You know, the lion is not the biggest animal in the jungle,” Bivol said. “But he is the king. Yes, he was bigger than me. But it didn’t matter.”

Ramirez would have been far better off with a less glittering record and some experience against elite opposition, because he then might have been able to figure a way to land cleanly on Bivol and cause him more than a few cursory problems.

Bivol was able to back Ramirez up most of the fight, and he let go combinations that Ramirez wasn’t able to avoid or counter. Ramirez never seemed to have a cogent strategy yet somehow was deluded into believing he’d done enough to win.

“I think I did enough,” he said to DAZN’s Chris Mannix in the ring, which hopefully was more an indication of a language barrier given Ramirez is not a native English speaker than his true feelings on the fight.

To give him his due, he was in with one of the world’s elite pound-for-pound fighters, and Bivol would have done that to most of the men he saw.

But Ramirez wasn’t prepared for what was to come because he faced so many soft touches and one-sided matches throughout his career.

Bivol was coming off a victory in May over Canelo Alvarez and looked every bit the part of the Fighter of the Year on Saturday as he was in command from the get-go.

He said before the fight that he’d like to fight unified champion Artur Beterbiev next for the undisputed championship, but that likely won’t happen since Beterbiev is scheduled to face no-hoper Anthony Yarde in a bout with precious little significance.

A Beterbiev-Bivol bout would grab the world’s attention, but it doesn’t matter much because it’s going to be at least nine months before it happens, if then.

Bivol may well rematch Alvarez, who had hand surgery earlier in the week, in a bout in the first half of 2023.

No doubt, Alvarez will make adjustments and be better than he was in May when he lost cleanly to Bivol in Las Vegas. That, though, is no guarantee he’s going to win because Bivol, too, is elite and he’s now oozing with confidence.

He exposed Ramirez’s record as the fraudulent work it was, while at the same time showing his impressive repertoire.

He’s going to be a tough out no matter who he faces.