The boxing world was treated to an excellent match-up on Saturday, March 9th. Dmitry Bivol, 16-0 (11 KOs), put his WBA World Light Heavyweight Championship on the line against Joe Smith, Jr., 24-3 (20 KOs). The fight was shown on
Smith, Jr. started the fight pressing his jab as he looked for an opening to land one of his big right hands. Bivol, though, ever the patient tactician, was able to maintain rage and control such with his own jab. Bivol was able to get in a short left hook near the bell in what was a fairly conservative round for both fighters.
Bivol continued to work behind a stiff left jab in round two. Bivol was able to land two right hands over the top of Smith, Jr.’s left hand near the minute mark. With around 25 seconds left, Bivol was able to left off a
Bivol landed a left hook at the beginning and midway through the third as he continued to be the ring general. Smith Jr. was able to land a right hand against the shoulder of Bivol that moved him, showing Smith Jr.’s power, but Bivol came right back behind the jab while getting in the occasional right to keep Smith Jr. honest.
Bivol looked to be very comfortable to start the fourth as he got off a two punch combination early as Smith, Jr. lunged in. Bivol again landed a hard left hook but Smith, Jr. came back with a glancing overhand right that seemed to temporarily stun Bivol. Bivol was able to maintain composer and came back with a combination of shots after the two tied up. Both fighters swung for shots as the bell rang to end what was a fairly intense round.
Smith, Jr. came out aggressive to start the fifth. Smith, Jr. was able to land a straight as Bivol answered back with a three-punch combination. Bivol was able to get off a hard left hook to Smith, Jr.’s body midway through the round. Bivol continued to work behind the jab and was able to get in left hooks from the distance. Bivol landed a solid left hook near the tail end of the round as Smith, Jr. ducked inward. He followed this with another set of punches to close the round.
The sixth saw a more patient start for both fighters. Bivol was able to open things with a solid left hook near the two-minute mark. Bivol was again able to get in a hard right straight midway through as Smith, Jr. looked to find some form of an opening to get off a shot of his own. Bivol again got off a three-punch combination with about a minute left. Bivol landed a snapping right uppercut with about thirty seconds left, thus securing a very solid round on his part.
I’m ready to fight for another belt. Doesn’t matter to me who it will be.Dmitry Bivol
Bivol’s jab continued to have snap as he got it off early in the seventh. Bivol landed a hard left hook midway through that seemed to hurt Smith, Jr. as he started to hunch over. Bivol followed this up with combination shots to the head that continued to snap Smith, Jr.’s head. Smith, Jr. was able to maintain himself as he tried to get off his own shots but nothing of significance came close to landing.
Bivol remained poised in the eight round as Smith, Jr. started to press forward a bit more behind his own jab. Smith, Jr. continued to throw right hands with authority but none were able to land cleanly on Bivol. With less than a minute left, Bivol again was able to land a hard left hook that snapped Smith, Jr.’s head. Bivol then followed this up with another solid three punch combination to the head as Smith Jr. tried to goad him in though unsucessfully.
In the ninth round Bivol continued to control range. The two fighters were tied up when a frustrated Smith, Jr. actually picked-up and slammed Bivol, intentionally. The referee warned Smith, Jr. and noted that a point would be taken should it happen again. Bivol landed another hard left hook near the minute mark and Smith, Jr. had no answer. Bivol continued to get off combinations as he stalked the retreating Smith, Jr. for the remainder of the round.
Bivol continued to press forward from the bell to start the 10th round as he snapped his jab forward. Smith, Jr. continued to throw the right hand but found himself singing at air. Midway through Bivol was able to land a five punch combination that showed that he was still fresh. Bivol countered Smith, Jr. with a solid left hook to follow as Smith, Jr. continued to struggle. Bivol was able to get in and out with combinations to close the round but was caught with a hard right hand that staggered him as the bell rang. Bivol looked wobbly as he walked to his corner.
Smith, Jr. again came out aggressive to start the 11th as he looked to capitalize from the end of the previous round. Bivol continued to use his jab at a distance to keep Smith, Jr. at bay. Smith, Jr. was able to land a hard right hand midway through that snapped Bivol’s head as Smith, Jr. continued to gain confidence. Bivol was able to keep away from Smith, Jr.’s right hand on the outside though Smith, Jr. was able to land it as the two were tied up.
In the 12th and final round, both fighters new what was at stake as the momentum had shifted to Smith, Jr. Both fighters were able to land shots early but Bivol slowed the pace as he used his jab. Bivol landed a hard right hnd counter with under a minute left as Smith, Jr. found himself letting the momentum slip away. With 10 seconds left, Bivol let off a barrage of shots that hurt Smith, Jr. and had him covered in a corner as the bell rang to what was an emphatic ending.
When the scorecards were read, the fight went down as a unanimous decision victory for Dmitry Bivol with scores of 118-110 and 119-109 (2x). Bivol again showed that he has a high caliber skill set and is able to be dominant through 12 rounds. The Light Heavyweight division continues to remain interesting and the picture may be a bit clearer with unification fights through the end of 2019 should all play out correctly. Stay tuned.