By: Sean Crose
“He’s a strong guy,” WBA World Light-Heavyweight champion Dmitry Bivol (15-0 11 KOs) says of Joe Smith Jr (24-2), his opponent this Saturday night at the Turning Stone Resort Casino in Verona, New York. “I saw his fight against Bernard Hopkins, and he’s really strong. He has the same age like me, he’s young. But he has some minus points like many fighters that I will use to my advantage for my win. He moves forward a lot. This is a good challenge for me, to stop him.” The bout, which is scheduled to go twelve rounds, will be Bivol’s third tittle defense since he won it against Rent Broadhurst back in 2017.
“I saw in his eyes when I met him,” Bivol says of Smtih, “he wanted my belt. And I’m glad, because only that way it can make a good fight…We are both of different styles. When two guys meet in the ring with different styles in boxing, it usually makes a good fight. I think it will be a good fight for boxing fans.” Smith took the fight world by storm back in late 2017 when he literally knocked the great Bernard Hopkins into retirement. Since that time, the Long Island native has been bested by Sullivan Barrera and has notched a knockout victory over Melvin Russell.
Bivol, who has bested the likes of Jean Pascal, Isaac Chilemba, Barrera, and Cedric Agnew, is one of the big names in a red hot light heavyweight division. Yet the Russian prefers to focus on the matter at hand. “To be honest,” he says, “I don’t think about the belt. I just think about who my opponent is, and what he can show me in the ring. All I think about is how I should beat him. In my sight, I feel like I should just beat him. Of course, the belt is good for history, but I only think about my opponent.” Promoter Matchroom Boxing has this to say of the fight:
“Bivol’s clash with Smith Jr. is part of a huge night of action at Turning Stone Resort Casino with a second mouthwatering World title fight on the bill in the shape of Maurice Hooker (25-0-3 17 KOs) defending his WBO World Super-Lightweight title against Brooklyn’s Mikkel LesPierre (21-0-1 10KOs).” Light heavyweights Sean Monaghan (29-2-0 17KOs) and Callum Johnson (17-1-0 12KOs) will also face off on the card, which will be aired live,courtesy the DAZN streaming service.