Bivol Makes Succesful Defense Against a Game Smith Jr
By Gary Kittilsen
In what was a more competitive fight than many expected Dmitry Bivol and Joe Smith Jr gave the sold-out crowd at the Turning Point Casino in Verona, New York 12 rounds of, highly competitive, toe to toe action.
The opening rounds were a bit more strategic than expected, with the two light heavyweights exchanging jabs. Bivol took the fairly even rounds by flurrying late. Smith Jr finally broke through halfway through the third round with a crisp right hand that shook the smaller Bivol up momentarily. The Russian was able to keep his composure through the storm of power shuts fired off by the American and stayed in control.
The middle rounds saw the champ circling to the right, and avoiding the heavy artillery from Smith Jr. Bivol seized control of a fairly competitive fight in the middle rounds. Finding a home with lead left-hooks that began to badly mark up the challenger’s face.
Clearly, in control entering the final third of the fight, Bivol was boxing comfortably until a massive sweeping right hand by Smith Jr landed near the top up Bivol’s head and rocked the champ, hurting him badly, fortunately for Bivol, it came just before the bell rang to end the 10th round. Clearly hurt Bivol got on his bicycle and spent the 11th round back peddling trying to clear his head, regain his legs and avoid the relentless attack from the American challenger.
Bivol managed to survive the 11th and regained control in the final stanza. Outboxing Smith Jr, for the majority of the round and then rocking the challenger with a straight right hand that sent him reeling into the ropes. Bivol jumped on his hurt opponent and unleashed a whirlwind of power shots as the final bell rang to end a highly entertaining scrap.
Going to the scorecards there was little doubt that Bivol had done more than enough to secure the victory. The judges confirmed that, handing in wide scorecards of 119-109 twice and 118-10 unanimously for Bivol. The win marked the 16th straight victory of Bivols career and the fourth successful defense of his 175-pound WBA world title.
In the post-fight press conference, he spoke of his future and desire to fight the other light heavyweight champions particularly Sergey Kovalev, a fight that seemed likely to happen back in 2018, but was spoiled when Kovalev lost to Eledier Alvarez.
Eddie Hearn complimented the young champ for wanting to unify the division but said that the WBA will likely call Bivol’s mandatory, Marcus Browne, and that will be Bivol’s next fight. According to Hearn, that fight will most likely be back in the states in August.
Credit: Ed Mulholland / Matchroom Boxing USA