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British Light-Heavyweight champion Craig ‘Spider’ Richards is preparing for a potential fight which would be the biggest of his already impressive career.
Negotiations between Richards’ team and WBA world champion Dmitry Bivol’s team have started well, with a date in April in England being discussed.
This would be a huge step up for Richards, who only recently became British champion after flooring Shakan Pitters in December.
Richards said: “We’re still in negotiations. We’re just waiting to hear back from Bivol’s team to see what he’s doing at the moment and see where they are with their side of things.
“It’s 100% the fight I always wanted. Before the Pitters fight we were thinking of taking one more at fringe world level and then pushing on to that level anyway so the fact I got to use Pitters as a bridge fight for the British is good and I can kick on globally now.”
He told Sky Sports: “You don't get much bigger than Dmitry Bivol at my weight. I think he's a good boxer. He's got a lot of things he does well. He's very seasoned. I can see there's flaws in him as well.
"This is the sort of fight where I will of course go through all my gears and show what I'm really about. I feel like stylistically, he'll bring the best out of me.
“It will be tougher than the domestic fighters I've been knocking out, but I believe I've got enough IQ, enough skill and enough punch power to gain his respect and break him down over the duration.
“I hit very hard, I've got a good boxing brain and I've got a good chin myself, and I believe I've got the tools to win."
After Richards became champion, most of the talk about his next challenger centred around the stacked British light-heavyweight division.
Names like Lyndon Arthur, Joshua Buatsi and Anthony Yarde were thrown around, but Bivol can offer something those men don’t have � a world championship.
Richards said: “I’ve had so many domestic fights, I didn’t want to leave the British scene without the crown first.
“Now I can finally say that I’m the best, the British champion, the number one, I’ve accomplished everything I can domestically.
“It’s time to move on and fight at the highest level. I don’t want to give people behind me opportunities when instead I can keep testing myself and kick on to the next level.”
Bivol has a reputation as one of the world’s finest light-heavyweights, having gone unbeaten in his 17 professional fights.
He has however been inactive since October 2019, while Richards would be fully prepared after his recent British title victory.
“I always talk about not being scared to dare to be great. I know Bivol’s a great fighter and his record speaks for itself but he’s just a human with two arms and two legs and I back myself against anyone.
“I’ve spent my whole career ripping up the script. I’ve been an underdog before and it hasn’t fazed me.
“Life’s been brilliant, it’s been good. But I’ve been working hard and preparing for what’s next.
“I love being a British Champion. I waited so long and worked so hard and I’ve finally got it. I’ve been embracing the stage of being a champion right now.
“I feel good, I had a good break after the win and then got back in the gym and I’ve been smashing numbers already.”
If the fight does go ahead, it will be a huge challenge for Richards, but anything can happen in boxing and Richards has been training hard and has the self-belief to achieve anything.
Bivol may have beaten 17 men to get to where he is today, but he hasn’t beaten a spider.