Dmitry Bivol defeats Joe Smith Jr by unanimous decision
Tonight in Verona, NY WBA Lt. Heavyweight champion Dmitry Bivol (16-0, 11KO) had to survive a couple of scary moments. In the end though, he did more than enough to successfully defend the WBA Lt. Heavyweight title for the fourth time; gaining a unanimous decision win over Joe Smith, Jr (24-3, 20KO). The scorecards read 118-110, 119-109, and 119-109.
During the first three rounds, Bivol did a terrific job of boxing; using his advantages in hand- and foot-speed to dart in and out to land jabs and hard punches. All the while, he stayed defensively responsible against the hard-punching Smith.
The disparity in skill, talent, and boxing intelligence was obvious to see. Bivol boxes like he’s playing chess, while Smith boxes like he’s playing checkers.
In the fourth, Smith seemed to stun Bivol with a right-hand high on the head. However, he could not take further advantage as Bivol boxed smartly for the rest of the round. During the middle rounds, Bivol continued his dominance, out-boxing Smith with ease. In rounds seven and eight, the champion stunned the challenger with solid left hooks.
The frustration was visible from Smith in the 9th round. Early in the round, he hip-tossed Bivol to the ground. who showed his professionalism by not getting angry. He instead got up and continued to outbox Smith and once again caught him with a solid left hook to the chin.
However, at the end of the tenth round, Smith hurt Bivol with a right-hand that had the champion shook and wobbly walking back to the corner.
The Closing Rounds
Invigorated in the 11th, Joe Smith Jr. fought with renewed vigor; landing right-hands and pressing the action to win the round. The champion seemed to be still affected from being stunned at the end of the previous round.
During the final round, Dmitry Bivol rose to the occasion and closed the show like a true champ. Re-establishing control with the jab and creating distance, he also showed late-fight power by hurting Smith with right-hands. Smith was in serious trouble along the ropes at the end of the final round.
After the fight, Bivol admitted that the fight was a bit tougher than the scores acknowledged of Smith’s punching power. Asked who he would like to fight next, Bivol stated that he wanted a memorable, significant fight and said he would welcome a fight against anyone at Lt. Heavyweight or Super Middleweight. Even in defeat, Joe Smith Jr. fought well enough to stay a viable name in the Lt. Heavyweight division.
By: Michael Wilson Jr.