Dmitry Bivol continues his assault on the Light-Heavyweight division on Saturday when he defends his WBA Title for the fourth time at the Turning Stone Resort and Casino in Verona, New York . Bivol (15-0) from St Petersburg, Russia, a decorated amateur who amassed an impressive record of 268-15 in the unpaid ranks, has chopped his way through the division at an alarming pace in the pros and will know hes on the cusp of some big unification fights in the division should he win on Saturday.
In just his seventh contest he fought and stopped Jackson Junior for the interim WBA World Title before winning the full version in his twelfth outing stopping Trent Broadhurst brutally in the opening round in Monaco on a Matchroom Boxing event. Since that win he has added some impressive names to his record including Sullivan Barrera (22-2), Isaac Chilemba (25-6-2) and former Carl Froch foe Jean Pascal (33-6-1). Known for being heavy handed Bivol has stopped eleven of his fifteen victims but in his last two fight has went the distance showing not only is he a puncher but a very skilled athlete into the bargain.
His opponent on Saturday, Joe Smith Jnr. Smith (24-2) a New York native will be looking to make home advantage count and pick up his first world title. Most would say the heavy handed Smith has earned his shot as he has not had things easy in his career so far. Bursting on to the scene on June 2016 Smith Jnr was seen as keep busy opponent for improving Andrzej Fonfara (30-5).
Instead he had other ideas blasting Fonfara out in the first round in one of the biggest shocks of that year. As a reward for that victory he would then have to step up another level or three, as he was then hand picked to face the legendary Bernard Hopkins (55-8-2). Again Smith had other ideas and rose to the occassion, stopping Hopkins in eight rounds brutally knocking him out of the ring, becoming the first man to stop the legend in the process but more importantly retire him. Since then his career has a froze a little dropping a hard fought ten round decision to Bivol foe Sullivan Barrera in July 2017 before making his comeback in June 2018 with a routine first round stoppage of Melvin Russell.
Saturday should be an action packed fight while it lasts. Expect Smith to come out and try impose himself on Bivol early. A move that may not prove to be a clever one. For me i see Bivol stopping Smith in the middle to second half of the fight. Smith as always will wear his heart on his sleeve but i believe the sharp crisp shots of Bivol will prove to much for the American. I expect Bivol to box cautiously in the opening two or three rounds which could see Smith have some success but then Bivol could quickly take over and target Smith to the body testing his inactivity to the full .
Which ever way it goes the fans are the real winners as it will be a great card overall which sees Maurice Hooker (25-0-3) defend his 140lbs world title against Mikkel LesPierre (21-0-1), Callum Johnson (17-1) takes on Sean Monaghan (29-2) at Light-Heavyweight and also an outing for Russian Heavyweight Sergey Kuzman (14-0) makes up the best of the undercard.