Dmitry Bivol defeats Craig Richards by unanimous decision to retain WBA light-heavyweight title

Dmitry Bivol retained his WBA light-heavyweight title with a unanimous decision victory, despite a spirited display from British challenger Craig Richards.

The unbeaten Russian is recognised as one of the finest fighters in the 175lbs division, but he was made to work for victory over ‘Spider’ Richards with scores of 118-110, 115-113, 115-114 in Manchester.

Edging forward, Bivol swiftly found his range in the first round, catching Richards with cleverly disguised hooks.

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Bivol raised the pressure, firing in fierce shots in the second, but Richards replied with a stiff right hand in the third.

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A looping left hand caught Richards at the start of the fourth round, although the south Londoner did trade right hands with Bivol in a lively fifth.

Richards unloaded an eye-catching left hook in the sixth, then Bivol shifted up a gear, spitting out a stinging combination in the seventh.

Any attempts by Richards to take charge were repelled by Bivol, who thumped in a right hand in the eighth, and jolting jabs in the ninth.

Showing more urgency, Richards finally forced Bivol to back up with a straight right hand in the 10th.

Richards desperately searched for a fight-changing punch, banging in body shots in the 11th, but Bivol withstood a spirited late assault to seal victory on the scorecards.

Earlier in the evening, Johnny Fisher stopped Phil Williams in the third round with a barrage of punches.

‘The Romford Bull’ gave another display of his raw power, forcing the referee to step in after a sustained assault.

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