WBA light heavyweight champion Dmitry Bivol 16-0 (11) easily turned back the challenge of Joe Smith Jr 24-3 (20) at the Turning Stone Resort & Casino in Verona, New York on Saturday night.
The 28-year-old Russian boxed a composed fight to win a 12-round unanimous decision by scores of 119-109, 119-109 and 118-110.
The only time Bivol received a scare was when the 29-year-old challenger from Long Island clipped him with a right hand at the bell to end round 10. The champion wobbled back to his corner but easily recovered during the one-minute rest break.
“I’m ready for a big fight. I’m glad because I didn’t get a lot of punches [against Smith Jr]. I gave him a lot of punches. I want to know how you rate my performance? Maybe he’s the hardest puncher. He has a strong right and left hand, but he hasn’t enough speed,” Bivol said.
“If you have a good punch you don’t have enough speed. He has a good punch. If there was an opportunity to make one of those fights [unification matches against Artur Beterbiev, Oleksandr Gvozdyk or Sergey Kovalev], I’d do it next.”
Promoter Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Boxing said he expects to match Bivol with his mandatory next, undefeated American southpaw Marcus Browne 23-0 (16).
“With Dmitry, Marcus Browne is the mandatory next, which I think is a great fight, which he expects to make in August,” Hearn said.
“It’s a very good, tough fight. He’s [Bivol] had 16 fights. You’ve got other champions. [IBF titleholder Artur] Beterbiev, once I told him we were signing Dmitry, he went to Top Rank. I don’t think it was his intention, but he did know about it before he left, and that’s a fight that I would love to make.
“We’ll see how that plays out. But I think the focus will be the WBA mandatory, which is a very good fight, and a good fight for Dmitry based on his [Browne] win over Badou Jack.
“The WBA has already said they’re going to call it. So when they call it, we expect it to happen next. I do think that’s an excellent fight to be made.”
Back in January Browne surprised many with his comfortable points victory over former world titleholder Badou Jack, winning by scores of 117-110, 116-111 and 119-108.
“I didn’t see the fight against Badou Jack, but if my fight will be against Browne, I’ll be glad, because he’s very good,” Bivol said. “He has a good name in boxing. He has two belts. I will be glad to fight him. I want to fight against everyone that has a belt. I feel like this is my time. I have 28 years.”