Eddie Hearn has labelled the Dmitry Bivol versus Gilberto “Zurdo” Ramirez world title bout in Abu Dhabi later this year a “historic moment” for Matchroom Boxing and the emirate, with more high-profile, world championship fights planned.
Abu Dhabi will on November 5 host the light heavyweight clash between champion Bivol and mandatory challenger Ramirez at Etihad Arena, marking the capital’s move into staging elite-level boxing.
The fight, which pits together two unbeaten boxers, represents the first of the new “Champions Series” partnership between the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi and Matchroom.
Speaking at the launch on Yas Island on Wednesday, Matchroom Sport chairman Hearn said: “This is a historic moment for Abu Dhabi and DCT, and for Matchroom Boxing as well, as we build a long-term partnership here of global, high-profile world championship fights.
"I believe November 5 to be the start of such an exciting future in what has become the global sports hub here in Abu Dhabi. This is an iconic moment.
“We are about building long-term partnerships with outstanding partners and great people to work with. You’ve seen across NBA, the UFC – [UFC president] Dana White and the team couldn’t speak more highly of everybody involved in their relationship with Abu Dhabi.
“For us as a business this is just the start of a new world of boxing here in the Middle East and Abu Dhabi.”
Bivol, 31, is coming off his successful defence against pound-for-pound No 1 Saul “Canelo” Alvarez in May, when he won by unanimous decision in Las Vegas. The Russian's record reads 20-0 (11 knockouts).
Ramirez, meanwhile, is a former WBO title-holder at super-middleweight, and has won all five of his fights since stepping up to 175 lbs. His record sits at 44-0 (30 KOs).
On Wednesday, Hearn confirmed the November 5 card will also feature an IBF world super-featherweight championship bout between champion Joe Cordina and Shavkatdzhon Rakhimov, while Chantelle Cameron and Jessica McCaskill will meet for the undisputed super-lightweight title.
On Bivol-Ramirez, Hearn said: “These are the kind of fights that we need to see. It's an incredible undercard as well."
Sitting alongside Hearn, Bivol agreed with the Matchroom chief that Ramirez constitutes a significant test, saying: “Yes, maybe it’s one of the toughest fights in my career. I’m thinking like that every time before my fight, it's only that I focus on.
"I’m glad to defend my title in Abu Dhabi. I heard this is the first time that someone defended a world title in Abu Dhabi – it’s great to be first in every way, and I hope it’s not the last time someone defends a title in Abu Dhabi.
“I’ve wanted this fight for a long time, and I know he wanted this fight a long time. And now it will happen. I’m glad.
"He’s a good fighter. I like challenges, I like to fight against the guy who has 44 fights, who’s bigger than me, who’s taller. This is a big challenge for me, and I hope it will be a great night on November 5."
Stationed not far from Bivol, Ramirez said: “I’m glad to be here Abu Dhabi, my first time here. I feel like home, because where I come from is the same weather - hot and humid. It’s perfect for me.
"I’m looking forward to getting the title on November 5, to become two-time world champion. And it will be a great night, and an exciting fight for everyone; even for me, I can’t wait for this fight. I've been waiting so long for this moment. We’re going to put on a great show for all the fans, for Abu Dhabi."
On Bivol, Ramirez said: “He is one of the best 175-lbers. He beat [Canelo], one of the best, one of the greatest in boxing too. Congratulations for him. It was a great night for Bivol, but what can I tell you? Forty-four the win trail means 44 have failed.”
Hearn said the partnership with Abu Dhabi aimed also to leave a long-term legacy in boxing within the UAE.
“This is about bringing huge, elite sport to Abu Dhabi, but it’s also about growing the sport of boxing in this country as well,” he said. “We’re going to be putting plans together to make sure that this sport is being built from the ground up.
"We love to work with people who we can build long-term partnerships with, relationships with whom we can deliver outstanding events for and we can change the face of sport in their country. We look forward to doing that in Abu Dhabi over the next few years."