At the moment, the light heavyweight division is already boxing’s best. And the talent pool looks like it could be deepening. Friday night, Showtime will broadcast a Showbox card featuring undefeated Dmitry Bivol, a 26-year-old who has won seven of his nine fights inside of the distance.
Bivol is yet another former amateur standout from the former Soviet Bloc. The light heavyweight division is stacked with similar resumes, such as Russians Sergey Kovalev and Artur Beterbiev, Ukrainians Oleksandr Gvozdyk and Vyacheslav Sharbranskyy and Cuban Sullivan Barrera.
Bivol was a Russian national champion and won a pair of World Cadet Championships. As a professional, he has so far been too much for anybody he has faced. In May of last year, he defeated Felix Valera for the WBA interim world title. That is an absurd title of course. But there is nothing absurd about Bivol’s potential.
Clarkson should be the best opponent he has ever faced as a professional. At any rate, he will be the most experienced. He sports a 19-3 record and can punch a little bit, having compiled 12 KOs. His most recognizable opponent to date has been Jesse Hart, who defeated him by decision in 2014.
Clarkson’s breakthrough win was a split-decision over Cedric Agnew in February 2015. Agnew is hardly a world beater, but he is a skilled, slick professional boxer. Anybody who earns a decision over an opponent like Agnew deserves respect when he climbs into the ring.
Still, Bivol’s amateur credentials suggest he is on a higher level. A successful international career in the amateur ranks does not necessary translate to becoming an elite professional. But the fighters who have that usually at least manage to skip across the stepping stones like Clarkson, in order to reach contender status.