WHEN THE young boxer from Slacks Creek in Queensland stepped into the ring in Monaco he was in for a brief but brutal experience, as PETER COSTER recounts:
A BUNCH OF Russians looking like a bunch of Russians in dinner suits stood around looking just as dangerous as Dmitry Bivol as he prepared to go to work at the Casino De Monte Carlo in Monaco.
Bivol, a determined looking pugilist from St Petersburg, was not there to play the tables. He is the WBA light heavyweight boxing champion and was there to remove any aspirations an inoffensive Australian, Trent Broadhurst, may have had of taking the title.
Broadhurst, who hails from Slacks Creek in Queensland, is no slouch, according to his record of 27 bouts with only one loss in a long career.
That was before he walked through the baroque porticos of the Casino De Monte Carlo only to find himself in a horizontal position twice in the first round.
The Russian was perfectly balanced and lightning fast, so fast that everyone, including the referee, did not see the punch that dropped Broadhurst.
The referee ruled it a knockdown and confusion still reigned after the fight as to whether it might have been a slip or a shoulder push from Bivol. Whatever it was resulted in Broadhurst becoming exceedingly cautious until the bell was about to ring at the end of the first round, when he was felled like a tree in the Russian tundra and lost all interest in any further proceedings.
Bivol, who was making his first defence of the title he won earlier this year, is regarded as one of the hottest prospects in boxing and it is only unfortunate that he is in the light heavyweight division where there is little interest in the fighters who fall between middleweight and heavyweight ranks.
The 26-year-old will never make it as a heavyweight, even if he were to be fed a steady diet of yak meat, a beast known to survive in the most debilitating conditions in Kyrgyzstan where he was born.
None of this was of any interest to poor Broadhurst, whose family had come to Monaco to watch him fight, but were dismayed to see him still on the canvas with the referee trying to remove his mouthguard to prevent him from choking.
The blow that rendered the 29-year-old unconscious was delivered with an almost casual effectiveness through a gap in Broadhurst’s guard that left his chin exposed.
Michael Buffer, who had been exhorting a crowd of about 400 punters to “get ready to rumble,” was left to wrap up what was a short night’s entertainment as the black-tied Russians left for the gaming tables.
The Casino De Monte Carlo last played host to an Australian when triple world Formula One champion Jack Brabham spun at the casino corner and went through the doors backwards.
Even that failed to disturb some of the clientele. Somerset Maugham once described Monaco as “a sunny place for shady people” and little has changed underneath the veneer of sophistication.
Now it is the Russians who are on a winner with Bivol. Their fighter has a record of 12 fights for 12 wins, 10 of them by knockout, after winning a gold medal as an amateur at the Russian Combat Games.
At only 183cm he is just not big enough to take on the likes of heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua.
Mike Tyson was slightly shorter and beat big men but weighed in at 109 kilos. If Bivol’s managers and promoters can find opponents willing to get in the ring with him, his fights will be worth watching, but not for any opponents concerned for their well-being.
Boxing is necessarily a brutal business, as evidenced by Anthony Joshua’s last opponent, Carlos Takam, who was interviewed at ringside in Monaco.
Takam had one eye swollen almost shut from the fight at the end of October and both eyebrows appeared to have been stitched.
Takam, a journeyman from the Cameroon, now living in Paris, went 10 rounds with Joshua before the fight was stopped and among his losses was a points decision against New Zealand Samoan Joseph Parker.
Parker is undefeated with 24 wins but did little to distinguish himself against Takam and underscores the ability of Joshua’s manager Eddie Hearn to pick suitable opponents for his champion and now the heavyweight division’s biggest drawcard.
Hearn has wisely chosen Parker rather than the monstrous Deontay Wilder as his fighter’s next opponent.
Wilder, known as the Bronze Bomber, with a nod to Joe Louis, the legendary Brown Bomber, has an undefeated record of 39 fights with 38 of his victories coming by KO, 19 of them in the first round. He is taller than even the 198 cm Joshua at 201 cm.
Joshua holds the WBA and IBF belts and Joseph Parker the WBO title. Wilder holds the WBC crown.
Joshua is likely to defeat Parker although the British boxer has a suspect chin after being put down by former Ukrainian WBA, IBF, WBO and IBO champion Wladimir Klitschko.
The positive was that Joshua got up to win the fight against Klitschko, who decided to retire rather than fight a rematch. At 41-years-of-age, time has caught up with the fearsome “Dr Steelhammer.”
The more likely fight for Joshua is against Parker, in spite of his manager describing an offer of 30 per cent of the purse as derisory. The Parker camp is asking for 40 per cent, while Deontay Wilder’s management is asking for more than 50 per cent.
In his prime, the aforementioned “Dr Steelhammer” would have beaten any of these heavyweights. Dmitry Bivol is from the same forge. His hometown of Tomak, in Kyrgyzstan, when translated, means “Hammer.”
For driving Russian nails into career coffins.
Author: Peter Coster
PETER COSTER is a former editor and foreign correspondent who has covered a range of international sports, including world championship fights and the Olympic Games in Los Angeles.