Preview: Bivol/Smith Jr. on DAZN

By Robert Ecksel on March 7, 2019
Preview: Bivol/Smith Jr. on DAZN
The Turning Stone bout is a must-win fight between bona fide heavy-handed bombers.

Saturday night on DAZN, light heavyweight champion Dmitry Bivol will defend his WBA title against Joe Smith Jr….

Saturday at the Turning Stone Resort & Casino in Verona, New York, in a fight streamed live on DAZN, WBA light heavyweight champion Dmitry Bivol (15-0, 11 KOs), from St. Petersburg, Russia, by way of Tokmak, Kyrgystan, will defend his title against Joe Smith Jr. (24-2, 20 KOs), the heavy-handed boxer-puncher from Long Island, New York.

Bivol is the A-side of the match, having been groomed for stardom since winning the Russian national amateur championships in 2012 and 2014, before turning pro later that year. He stopped the first six men he faced, and in his seventh bout he twice knocked down before decisioning then-undefeated Felix Valera to win the interim WBA light heavyweight title. Five fights and a year and half later, Bivol scored a first round knockout against 20-1 Trent Broadhurst to win the WBA “regular” light heavyweight title.

Smith is the B-side. With no distinguished amateur career to turbocharge his entry into the pros in 2009, he kept his day job as he punched his way through the ranks of little-known fighters for the next seven years. That changed dramatically with his first round destruction of WBC #2 ranked Andrzej Fonfara in the summer of 2016, before closing out the year by upsetting legendary Bernard Hopkins, sending B-Hop through the ropes in a memorable end to a no less memorable career.

Had Bivol and Smith fought then, when they were hot, the fight wouldn’t be playing second fiddle to Shawn Porter vs. Yordenis Ugas at the exact same time on a competing platform. But both fighters have struggled, in different ways and for different reasons. Bivol took a step up in class after he won the title and defeated Sullivan Barrera, Isaac Chilemba, and Jean Pascal last year. He remains undefeated, but his invincibility is no longer a given. Smith has fought just twice since retiring Hopkins, losing one of the two fights.

Despite the relative downside of the bout, the upside is it’s a must-win fight between two bona fide bombers, neither of whom, secondary title aside, has anything to lose and much to gain, so the fight should be a humdinger.

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  1. Steven 12:42pm, 03/09/2019

    Must win? I think not.