Klitschko Brothers Object to Dimitry Bivol vs Canelo Matchup; Bivol Says “It’s Sad” They Have Become Politicians. Plus: Will Tyson Fury Show in Vegas?
by John “Gutterdandy” Walker
Former heavyweight champions of the world the Klitschko brothers, Wladimir and Vitali, won’t be cheering on WBA light heavyweight champion Dimitry Bivol when the latter man takes on superstar Canelo Alvarez this Saturday evening at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
Though Bivol (19-0, 11 KOs), a Russian, has spoken out against the war his country has chosen to wage against neighboring Ukraine, the Ukrainian Klitschko brothers are far from satisfied about Bivol is getting a world wide platform to perform against Alvarez (57-1-2, 39 KOs) in the middle of a bloody conflict that his country started.
According to former unified world heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko, currently fighting on the front lines with his brother [the current mayor of Kyiv] Vitali, it’s nothing personal against Bivol, but a matter of principle.
In an interview with the BBC, Wladimir recently opined that “[Bivol should] absolutely not [be facing Canelo]. Every sanction, and it’s nothing against the personality or athletes, it’s about the politics of Russia.”
“Every Russian representative in this case needs to be sanctioned, because this way we show to Russia that the world is against this senseless war and that there’s no good in this war,” Klitschko said.
Bivol, of course, sees the issue differently, and claims the realms of sports and politics should be kept separate.
“All his career I support [Wladimir], I liked how he was fighting and of course I was glad when he won,” said a somber Bivol.
“He is [a] sportsman, he should know sports and politics is different. He was [an] athlete. Now he is politician. It is sad that wants to shake it up and mix sport and politics,” a downcast Bivol told Britain’s IFL TV.
While the Klitschkos won’t be making a Vegas trip to see Bivol defend his title against Alvarez, one face to look for at ringside is that of current “retired” WBC heavyweight champion Tyson Fury.
Last weekend, Matchroom promotions honcho Eddie Hearn put on a successful women’s boxing headliner featuring popular Irish fighter Katie Taylor at Madison Square Garden in NYC.
Irish compatriots such as former pugilist Matthew “Mack The Knife” Macklin, and according to rumor, Tyson Fury himself were slated to fly to Manhattan to cheer on their woman, but Mackin and “other boxing figures” were refused entry into the USA due to their connections with former MGM/MTK honcho and reputed Irish mob kingpin, Daniel Kinahan (“MTK” is an acronym for Mack The Knife).
Fury, rumor has it, was tipped off not to get on the plane to Manhattan. The WBC champion, who recently made light work of hapless challenger Dillian Whyte, was very friendly with Kinahan until the FBI offered a $5 million reward for the mob boss, at which point an agitated Fury was adamant that he knew nothing of Kinahan’s business and split ties with him.
If Fury, who recently bought a home in the Las Vegas area, and who is due to meet with the WBC next week to discuss his retirement plans–which he claims are 100% irreversible–fails to show at the Canelo vs Bivol tilt, the rumor mill over Fury’s own legal status regarding Kinahan and the now-defunct MTK Global promotional outfit will surely go into overdrive.
Filip Hrgovic Withdraws From IBF Eliminator Against Zhang Zhilei
By John “Gutterdandy” Walker
The stalled career of promising heavyweight Filip Hrgovic of Croatia took another unfortunate turn today, when the heavyweight giant pulled out of an IBF Eliminator with China’s Zhang Zhilei scheduled for the undercard of the Canelo Alvarez vs Dimitry Bivol Pay-Per-View clash at the T-Mobile Arena this Saturday in Las Vegas.
The massive Hrgovic (14-0, 12 KOs), often called the most avoided fighter in boxing, had run through a list of top heavyweight contenders who, for one reason or another, had all decided to forgo a shot at the IBF eliminator that would put the victor in place for a title shot against the winner of the upcoming rematch between former champion Anthony Joshua of the UK and current unified heavyweight champion Oleksandr Usyk of Ukraine.
The fight would have pitted 2016 Olympic bronze medalist Hrgovic, 29, against 2008 Olympic silver medalist Zhang, 39, and the Croatian heavyweight had expressed delight that Zhang was willing to take him on. Now, however, Hrgovic is back in boxing’s twilight zone, as Zhang (23-0-1, 18 KOs), not thrilled at the idea of wasting an entire training camp, seeks a fighter willing to step in for the Croatian.
Still unconfirmed rumors have it that Hrgovic’s father passed away early in April, and that the fighter has been unable to focus on training camp to his satisfaction, leading to this very late withdrawal from the upcoming fight. IBF rules state that the elimination match must be rescheduled for a later date, but boxing promoter Eddie Hearn is currently seeking to accommodate Zhang’s desire to fight on Saturday by securing a last-minute replacement for Hrgovic.