Dmitry Bivol decisions Joe Smith Jr – RESULTS
By Jim Dower: WBA World light heavyweight champion Dmitry Bivol (16-0, 11 KOs) put on a masterclass performance in beating slugger Joe Smith Jr. (24-3, 20 KOs) by a lopsided 12 round unanimous decision on Saturday night on DAZN at the Turning Stone Resort Casino in Verona, New York. Bivol, 28, had Smith Jr. in serious trouble in the closing seconds of the 12th round after hurting him with a big right hand to the head. Time ran out on Bivol as he was hitting Smith Jr. at will shots.
The scores were 118-110, 119-109, and 119-109. Boxing News 24 scored it for Bivol by the score 119-109. The only round that Smith Jr. appeared to win was the 10th round in which he hurt Bivol with a hard right hand to the side of the head as the bell went off. Bivol staggered back to his corner. It was unlucky for Smith Jr. that he failed to land that shot earlier in the round. Bivol would have been there for the taking. He was on weak legs after taking that punch.
“It was not an easy fight,” Bivol said afterwards. “Smith had a big heart, and a strong hands. I caught a right hand on the right side, and I lost my balance a little,” Bivol said in explaining how he had been hurt at the end of the ninth round by a hard right hand from Smith Jr. “It was a good hard fight. Maybe if I had enough experience. At the end of the fight, I felt like I could knock him out. It’s not my goal. I want to fight intelligent fight. I’m ready for a big fight. I’m ready for a unification fight at 168. I fought an intelligent fight. I’m not big. Joe was bigger than me. Yes, of course [Bivol can make 168]. Other guys are bigger than me,” Bivol said.
The fight was one-sided in the first four rounds with Bivol catching Smith Jr. with jabs ad single left hooks and right hands for the most part. In the fifth round, Smith nailed Bivol with a hook hand to the side of the head that seemed to stun him. Smith Jr. went after Bivol in charging him, but not catching him with anything significant. Bivol’s quick feet enabled him to get away without getting hit.
Smith was hurt in the seventh round after getting caught with a hard left hook to the head from Bivol. Smith bent forward and held on to recover.
In the ninth round, Bivol appeared to be on his way to winning the round when he was caught in the final seconds by a right hand from Smith to the side of the head. The shot staggered Bivol, who walked back to his corner on shaky legs at the end of the round.
In the 10th, Smith Jr. tried to take advantage of Bivol being hurt from the previous round, but he was unable to get to him. Bivol held when Smith would come into punching range. Out of frustration, Smith picked Bivol up and dropped him to the canvas with a wrestling body slam move. This resulted in the referee giving Smith Jr. a warning. The body slam looked bad enough for Smith Jr. to be docked a point, but the referee chose to give Smith a break by not taking a point off. It didn’t matter in the big scheme of things. Smith was hopelessly behind on the scorecards, and he as going to lose anyway.
Surprisingly, Smith failed to go after Bivol the way he needed to in the 11th and 12th. The aggression that Smith Jr. needed for him to get to Bivol to try and land a big shot simply wasn’t there
All in all, it was a good performance by Bivol, but one that suggests that he’s unbeatable. He’s an excellent fighter, but he showed tonight that he can be hurt. A better fighter like Artur Beterbiev, Sergey Kovalev, Marcus Browne or Oleksander Gvozdyk would be a threat to Bivol. Unfortunately, those fights aren’t going to be easy to make due to those guys being with different promoters, and they fight on different network platforms. The most likely fight available to Bivol is a match against WBA Super World super middleweight champion Callum Smith, who is promoted by the same promoters that he is at Matchroom Boxing. That fight likely won’t happen until 2020. Bivol wants to fight WBA ‘regular’ super middleweight champion Saul Canelo Alvarez, but that one will have to wait until the Mexican star finishes trying to unify the middleweight division. There’s a chance those that Bivol and Canelo could face each other in the not too distant future after both have run out of options for big fights. It’ll be entirely up to Canelo and his promoters at Golden Boy to decide when and where that fight would take place with Bivol.