Dmitry Bivol’s DAZN debut was a resounding success, dominating Joe Smith Jr. to retain his WBA light heavyweight title.
In the main event of a Matchroom Boxing USA card from Verona, New York that was streamed on DAZN, Bivol defeated Smith by unanimous decision (119-109, 119-109, 118-110). The fight was Bivol’s fourth straight title defense taking place in the United States.
For almost the entire fight, Bivol outboxed and outlanded Smith by a wide margin while the challenger tried to land the right hand in the hopes of staggering him and knocking him down. Smith’s first real big crack at Bivol came halfway through the fourth round when an overhand right landed during an exchange and Bivol moved back to avoid getting hit more.
But those instances where Smith landed the right hand clean were few and far between. Smith’s best offense came at the end of the 10th round when he landed a right hand right as the bell sounded and Bivol was visibly hurt, needing to hold on to the ropes to keep himself vertical as he made his way to the corner. Smith got some momentum from that right hand and tried to overpower Bivol, but was unable to do much against the skillfully superior champion. Bivol would get his chance to hurt Smith in the closing seconds of the fight when he landed a flurry of punches that trapped Smith to the corner.
Bivol's time as a light heavyweight could be coming to an end soon. After the fight, Bivol stated that he wants to unify the light heavyweight division and also potentially go down in weight and take a shot at a super middleweight title.
“I just end this fight and I want to relax. I want to fight for another belt. I am ready for a unification belt or to fight at 168 division. I want to be remembered in this sport. I was to be known for intelligent boxing," Bivol said.
Bivol last four title defenses took place in the New York/New Jersey region where he has defeated the likes of Isaac Chilemba and Jean Pascal. Bivol signed a co-promotional deal with Matchroom Boxing earlier this year as he was a network free agent after HBO closed up shop on its boxing broadcasts.