Tony Bellew has this week revealed his choice for fighter of the year – and he was of little doubt when selecting light heavyweight world champion Dmitry Bivol as his pick.
Speaking in his column on DAZN.com, Bellew explained that the Russian’s upset win over pound-for-pound star Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez, as well as successful title defence against Gilberto Ramirez, made it an easy decision.
“Who else can you really say apart from Dmitry Bivol? I’ve always believed the current WBA light-heavyweight champion was a good fighter, but his performances in 2022 have took him to another level.”
“Starting in May, Bivol faced the brilliant Canelo Alvarez, and let’s be honest, he made it look easy at times.”
“As well as beating Canelo, Bivol made it a Mexican double when he dominated Gilberto Ramirez in November. Ramirez was no doubt a highly rated contender at 175lbs, but that didn’t stop Bivol from making it look easy.”
“He’s my fighter of the year and I think it’s one of the most straightforward picks about.”
With a rematch against Canelo as well as an undisputed clash with countryman Artur Beterbiev potentially in the offing, there’s every chance Bivol could be in contention for fighter of the year in 2023 as well.
Bellew also gave his pick for knockout of the year in the same feature, electing to go for Joe Cordina’s stunning right hand that saw him floor Kenechi Ozawa to become IBF super featherweight champion of the world in Cardiff
“Joe Cordina’s stoppage of Kenichi Ogawa was a blow that saw the Welshman become a world star with one shot. Ogawa arrived in Wales with a formidable reputation, and he was expected to provide Cordina with his toughest test to date.”
“In the second round, Cordina was warming into the contest, and you could see that he was comfortable in there, but what happened next was stunning. A well-timed right hand landed on Ogawa and the fight was over.”
Cordina was unfortunately forced to vacate his title just months after winning it, as a hand injury ruled him out of a defence against mandatory challenger Shavkat Rakhimov in Abu Dhabi.
However, the Welshman will get the chance to right what he surely sees as an unjust wrong early next year, with an agreement to fight Rakhimov reportedly nearing completion.