Tagged in: mandatory

WBA orders Dmitry Bivol to defend 175-pound belt against Gilberto Ramirez

Dmitry Bivol will have a tough test on his hands if he wants to stay a champion.

Bivol must face top contender Gilberto “Zurdo” Ramirez in a mandatory defense, the World Boxing Association revealed Wednesday. Ramirez is the No. 1 contender in the WBA’s 175-pound ranking.

Bivol had requested to face London’s Joshua Buatsi, per the WBA.

“After an extensive study of the same, the WBA denied such permission,” the sanctioning body said in a tweet on Wednesday.

Bivol (20-0, 11 KOs) is coming off a landmark win against Canelo Alvarez, ESPN’s top pound-for-pound fighter at the time. The Russian boxer won in a unanimous decision — 115-113 on all three scorecards — to successfully defend the belt for the eighth time.

Ramirez (44-0, 31 KOs) told ESPN he was surprised Bivol made the request to the WBA but was pleased with Wednesday’s ruling.

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“I felt that they were scared to fight me,” Ramirez said. “That’s why I’m so happy to fight him. I’ve been waiting for this moment for so long. Now it’s my time.”

The 31-year-old Mexican fighter is looking to become a two-division champion.

In 2016, he made history by becoming the first Mexican to win a super middleweight title when he outpointed Arthur Abraham. It set the table for Alvarez, who ran through the 168-pound division to become the first undisputed super middleweight champion in the four-belt era.

The ruling also suggests that if the two sides cannot come to terms by the end of Wednesday, a purse bid will be held for the fight’s rights. Matchroom Boxing promotes Bivol, and Golden Boy Promotions handles Ramirez.

If Bivol doesn’t want to face Ramirez, he could vacate the WBA belt, since Badou Jack relinquished the title in 2017. However, Ramirez said he doesn’t think Bivol will go that route.

Ramirez said he feels he presents the most lucrative option for Bivol and believes there is an appetite to see if a Mexican fighter can dethrone Bivol, something Alvarez couldn’t do in his ambitious attempt in May.

“It will be really surprising if he vacated the title,” Ramirez told ESPN. “Who else is he going to fight?” The matchup could be one of boxing’s most competitive title fights of the year.

Bivol is No. 2 in ESPN’s divisional rankings, trailing only Artur Beterbiev. Ramirez is slotted third following his win versus Dominic Boesel in May.

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New England Patriots CB Stephon Gilmore reports to training camp

New England Patriots cornerback Stephon Gilmore, who had skipped June’s mandatory minicamp, reported to the team on Thursday, a source told ESPN’s Field Yates. Gilmore was subsequently placed on the active/physically unable to perform list due to a partially torn quad sustained in December.

While the majority of Patriots players report for training camp on Tuesday, quarterbacks and players recovering from injuries were booked to arrive Thursday.

There was a question whether Gilmore, the 2019 NFL Defensive Player of the Year, would report. He had stayed away from voluntary practices in the spring, as well as mandatory minicamp, while publicly expressing a desire for the team to upgrade his contract.

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Gilmore is scheduled to earn a base salary of $7 million in 2021.

The Patriots had advanced him $4.5 million of his 2021 salary last year, contributing to the under-market wage for this season.

Gilmore, who turns 31 in September, is in the final year of the five-year, $65 million contract he signed with the Patriots as an unrestricted free agent in 2017. The deal included $40 million in injury guarantees and $31 million fully guaranteed at signing.

At the time, a contract with those guarantees and an average of $13 million per season was viewed as a strong deal. The cornerback market has since exploded, with Jalen Ramsey of the Los Angeles Rams topping it with a contract averaging $20 million per season.

“I just want what I’m worth, however that plays out. Every player should be paid what they’re worth. That’s just how it is,” Gilmore told longtime NFL reporter Josina Anderson earlier in July.

Of his quad injury, Gilmore told Anderson: “I feel stronger than I’ve ever felt since the surgery. I’ve been running a lot, building full speed.”

Gilmore was one of eight players placed on the PUP list on Thursday, with quarterback Jarrett Stidham another notable player on the list.

Outside linebacker Chase Winovich, defensive tackle Byron Cowart, linebacker Terez Hall, tight end Dalton Keene, core special-teamer Brandon King and wide receiver Devin Smith were the other players placed on the PUP list.

Running back Rhamondre Stevenson (fourth round, Oklahoma), linebacker Cameron McGrone (fifth round, Michigan) and safety Joshuah Bledsoe (sixth round, Missouri) were rookies previously placed on the active/non-football injury list.

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