Allan Cerf breaks down the pariculars in this Saturdays championship fight between Dimitry Bivol and Joe Smith Jr.
Undefeated WBA light heavyweight champion Dimitry Bivol battles Joe Smith Jr. March 9, 2019 from the Turning Stone Resort and Casino, in Verona New York and DAZN.
Dmitry Bivol is a talented, up and coming 28-year-old, taking on Joe Smith, Jr. a guy that I personally believe (though few will agree) has- (especially the time he knocked Bernard Hopkins out of the ring and out of the sport) a very good and fluid command of power punches. Underrated to say the least.
Could Bivol become a victim of the Chan Ho Park Syndrome? Remember the Dodgers fastball ace? Teenage phenom. Trouble was, year after year rolled by and guess what – Park never got any younger. Go figure. He got limited starts. The Dodgers said, “He’s too young.”
Eventually, every known expert said: “You have to use this guy, life is short.” By the time the Dodgers did, Park had lost many of his best years. He lost confidence he says, and had a good- but rather ordinary career.
Bivol had an excellent but not legendary amateur career. He’s had relatively few professional tilts. As I constantly carp; a top boxing M.D. with decades of experience with boxers, told me: “The more active a fighter stays, the safer.” "I know Callum Smith has a belt" It’s endless sparring, generally, that causes the damage. If Bivol is going to fight the Joe Smiths of this world, he needs to do it four times a year to stay sharp. He’s not a “youngster,” no matter what pundits may say – not by boxing’s merciless standards.
I have no idea if Smith is still as good as he was when he stopped Bhop; if he is – it’s a step in the right direction for Bivol. Above all, let’s hope Bivol won’t be managed like Chan Ho Park because anything less than a full slate of fights in 2019 will hurt him.
Fighter’s Grades: (Speed, Power, Defense, Reach, Age, Stamina, Experience)
Dmitri Bivol: B B+ B ? B- B C+ (Average of all) B- (2.9)
Joe Smith: B- B+ C+ ? B- B B+ (Average of all) B- (2.8)
I’ve watched Bivol, the pleasant Russian with a Korean mother and Moldovan father, closely. My mom used to say: “There’s no such thing as a right hook, it’s a right cross,” yet Bivol swings left and right hooks.
He looks a lot like many Italian-American fighters from the 40’s in that regard, unless you look more closely. True, he’s a counterpuncher, but at his opponents first punch, he responds with powerful left and right hooks from mid-distance - which some say is the wrong distance. Rinse and repeat. But there’s more to Bivol than that.
For one, he’s quite quick and for two, when he slips punches, he glides inside where he throws very hard and swift, inside shots. Another thing I love, is his constantly measuring range with his left; he has a great command of distance. If he could turn that measuring stick into a jab and then hide the right like Lennox, even better. Bivol is possessed of a simple tool kit, but one that has proved very effective.
But what about Kovalev – would it be enough? What about against another fellow Russian, Artur Beterbiev? What about – in what could be his going away party, the aging Badou Jack?
Joe Smith may be a construction worker by day, but at his peak vs. Hopkins, his command of punches and his combinations were not brown bag, blue collar quality. He looked superb – if only his defense on a par with his offense. An upset here would shock the world – and set him up for the big time. It’s not inconceivable. Also, his competition as a pro far exceeds that of Bivol.
Fight and prediction:
Bivol really needs to come through in impressive fashion. He needs to figure out Smith and get the construction worker the hell out of there. A technical UD with DAZN’s shouty, over the-top announcers in awe of his “form,” is not nearly good enough. If Bivol wants to make a statement and enter the elite, he needs some statement fights. The future is now.
Dmitry Bivol TKO Joe Smith 10