But it will now most likely be a second meeting between Canelo and the unbeaten Russian after Bivol beat the Mexican superstar on May 7 at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
Canelo, who had previously only lost to Floyd Mayweather prior to that, amazingly withstood Bivol’s power despite physically being the much smaller man in the ring.
But Russian Bivol was just too strong for challenger Canelo and retained his WBA light heavyweight title via unanimous points decision.
The judges scored the fight 115–113 115–113 115–113.
Yet Richards, who was outpointed by Bivol in his first title defence last May, insisted that he saw it coming.
He told BoxingScene.com: “I said the day before he [Bivol]’s got very fast feet, very fast hands and very good defence and I said if it goes to points I’d expect Bivol to get the nod.
“Though, being in Vegas and Cinco de Mayo, if it does go to points it depends if the judges give it to him.
“Because Bivol’s hands are rapid and his defence is very tight and he’s got very good feet.
“His [Canelo’s] feet weren’t quick enough, he was loading up shots, Bivol was throwing combinations and when he was trying to land and couldn’t get through the defence, he just got frustrated and to the point that he got disheartened.
“When we cross paths again, it’s not personal, I have to beat him, but first and foremost let’s just focus on May 21st.
“I neutralized him because I’ve got good feet and a good jab as well.
“So I neutralized a lot of his best assets and I think that’s why people were like, ‘Oh, he’s not that good’ and not that I took away a lot of his assets.
“Canelo is good at closing the ring down but he hasn’t got fast feet and that’s what I thought he might struggle with, the fast feet and the combination punching.”
Richards, nicknamed ‘The Spider’, returns to the ring against ‘Just Business’ Joshua Buatsi in an all-British light heavyweight bout.
The 32-year-old won the British title after defeating Shakan Pitters in December 2020 before losing to Bivol in his next fight a few months later.
Richards, 32, who has been training in Essex with friends Conor Benn and Joe Cordina, added: “My stock won’t stay there if I don’t beat Josh on May 21st, so I’ve got to make sure next week I get the job done to make sure my stock rises even more.
“I know I can swim in the deep waters, but I’m never overconfident in boxing.
“Boxing is the sort of situation where you’ve got to learn all the time.
“I’m doing that and I’m a student of the game and I think that’s why I get better, I’m never complacent.
“Sometimes my trainer says to me I just need to relax because I’m a perfectionist and I want to get things right all the time but I think that’s what brings me on all the time. I’m never overconfident.
“I always know I’ve got things to learn and I think that’s why I’m always going to progress until the day I hang my gloves up.”