On the stacked Chisora Parker card, Craig ‘Spider’ Richards fought in the WBA Light-Heavyweight World Championship bout against title-holder Dmitry Bivol. Although eventually losing on points, Richards showed the world that he is an excellent fighter with an exciting career ahead of him.
Both fighters began cautiously with Craig working his jab, fainting to keep Bivol on his toes. From the start, it was clear Richards needed to be cautious of Bivol’s dangerous hooks. They showed their high boxing IQ and their technique-driven styles. Bivol used his impressive movement to constantly come into Richards’ space, not giving him a moment to think. It was hard for Richards to take advantage of his greater reach.
As the fight developed, Bivol looked increasingly dangerous as he was able to throw some heavy right hands around Richards’ guard. However, Richards showed himself to be an incredibly disciplined fighter. He was constantly in control and dealt with hooks off of jabs effectively. Although some shots did make their way through Richards’ guard, overall his defence was impressively solid.
With ever-increasing confidence Richards began to show Bivol his skills. Nearly every Bivol onslaught was returned with rapid jabs, often to the body, which began to wear Bivol down and mark his face. Bivol was clearly frustrated by the disruptions to his game plan and he was not given an inch throughout the fight.
By the end of round 5, it was clear that Craig Richards could hold his own at this very high level. However, it was also clear that he would need to start making rounds go his way. The previous rounds had been close-run Bivol victories. The fight became cagey as neither fighters wanted to risk leaving themselves open. However, Richards was able to respond to Bivol’s attacks with clever combinations which immediately began to bruise Bivol’s face.
Richards’ trainer Peter Sims was encouraged by the performance up to this point. Sims began urging him to take more risks and look for more opportunities to break down Bivol’s resolute defense, rightly believing Richards to have the potential to do some damage.
The fight lit up at round 9 with both boxers coming out from behind their guards to swing much more. It was here that Bivol’s game plan began to collapse. While Richards was able to ride shots well, Bivol was driven back. He could no longer control the distance and was clearly exhausted. Sims responded to this with a cry of “he’s got nothing left in the tank” knowing that his fighter’s superior endurance was beginning to take effect.
Despite inflicting increasing damage on Bivol, Richards was not able to conclude the fight before round 12. He was deservedly delighted with his performance and Bivol immediately gave Richards a fist bump in recognition of their top-quality fight. As the boxers waited for the score to come in, Bivol was obviously the more damaged of the two men. However, his impressive showing in the early rounds had taken effect on the score card. Bivol won by unanimous decision.
Despite holding his own as the heavy underdog, Richards lost to Bivol on a points decision after the twelfth round. ‘Spider’ may not have taken the Russian down, but he has successfully shown the world that he is a fighter with an impressive IQ and superhuman endurance. He has rightly earned the respect of Bivol and the boxing world. We are left wondering if Richards had had more time in the ring with Bivol, would he have taken home the World Championship Title.