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Dmitry Bivol targeting big fights after WBA light heavyweight title defence against Joe Smith Jr

Anthony Cocks

Australian-based boxing journalist Anthony Cocks has been covering the sport for over 15 years for various print and online publications. He refuses to believe that Roberto Duran ever lost to Tommy Hearns and says that Jeff Fenech would destroy Chuck Norris, Bruce Lee and Muhammad Ali on the same night.

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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.

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“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.”

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