Dmitry Bivol loves L.A.
Dmitry Bivol, the current reigning WBA light heavyweight champion (who faces Isaac Chilemba tomorrow night in Atlantic City) has one of the most interesting backgrounds in all of boxing. Born to a Korean mother and a Moldovan father, Bivol born in Kyrgyzstan.
He now currently resides in St. Petersburg, Russia.
However as he prepares for fights, Bivol’s boxing home is in Los Angeles, where he will go to various gyms around the Southland. He regularly drops by the famed Wild Card Boxing Club, in Hollywood, and Legendz Boxing in Norwalk, on the days when he spars.
During an in-studio visit to “The 3 Knockdown Rule,” with Mario Lopez and Yours Truly, he stated, “I like being in L.A. because I like summer weather; all day summer is here. And of course I like the training camp here because there are a lot of sparring partners.
”L.A. is second home.”
He’s been coming to this region for a few years.
“First time I went to L.A. was 2014 and, in the year, I’m here six months, maybe,” Bivol said in his ever-improving English. (Russian is his native tongue.)
Bivol, 13-0 (11), initially came to the United States and California at the behest of manager Vadim Kornilov, who wanted to get a firsthand look at the highly decorated amateur before signing him. “I was told initially that he’s a special kid; he had power and he was great,” said Kornilov, who accompanied his boxer in-studio. “He came to Los Angeles in 2014 with his trainer, and his teammate Sergey Kuzmin (now a 12-0 (9) heavyweight). He came for a month just to meet.
“All of the fighters that we have signed, initially we just ask them to come because they need to meet us. We need to meet them, and just see if we even like each other in the first place. But when (Bivol) started sparring at Wild Card, everybody saw it; it wasn’t just me.”
It was clear that Bivol was the goods.
“There was no training camp; it was just to get some guys to spar with him, and when I see guys in sparring and the other guy doesn’t want to continue, then I know this is going to be something special. This is that type of kid,” said Kornilov, whose first big-name client was another Russian, Ruslan Provodnikov.
A few months later Bivol says he made the decision to turn professional, and he stopped Jorge Rodriguez Olivera in six rounds, on November 28, 2014 in Moscow, where he was immediately put on the fast track by his handlers. Bivol actually fought his fourth and sixth fights at the O.C. Hangar, in Costa Mesa. Then beginning with the April 2017 stoppage of Samuel Clarkson, on “ShoBox,” at the MGM National Harbor in Oxon Hill, Maryland, he has been a staple of the American boxing scene, and HBO (on which tonight’s bout against Chilemba is being broadcast from Atlantic City, New Jersey).
WBO light heavyweight titlist Sergey Kovalev (who faces Eleider Alvarez as the feature performer on HBO) and WBA/WBC middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin, who paved the way for Bivol in the States, made the decision to call America home. As for Bivol, he says, “I think sometimes about this. It’s too hard for me because I have my parents in Russia, my grandmother, a lot of family in Russia.”
However it’s clear that Bivol has become a part of the boxing community here. He is already a highly-respected boxer who works well with others in the gym. He’s one of the few world-class fighters who prefers to work in the upstairs portion of the Wild Card Boxing Club, where he actually has no problem sharing a heavy bag with regular civilians, who are getting in their workouts. Trainer Danny Zamora says he has his young boxers watch Bivol, as he hits the bag to see his footwork, and controlling of space and distance.
Zamora said with admiration, “Bivol’s the only guy who comes to the gym with his hands already wrapped.”
For him this journey is just getting started. There is talk of a showdown with the “Krusher,” and then eventually unifying the division. But first he has to get past the experienced Chilemba.
Afterward he’ll go back home, and then, soon enough, he’ll be back in Los Angeles.
You can listen to the entire interview with Bivol and Kornilov on this week’s edition of “The 3 Knockdown Rule”:
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