Dmitry Bivol wants big fights, but first must get past Joe Smith Jr. in upstate N.Y. Photo by Ed Mulholland/Matchroom Boxing USA
Dmitry Bivol, the WBA light heavyweight titleholder, has longed for an opportunity to face one of the other champions in the division. Since they are tied to other promoters who have their own deals with television networks and streaming services, making those fights have become complicated.
“It’s definitely something we think about,” Bivol (15-0, 11 knockouts), who will make the fourth defense of his WBA light heavyweight title against Joe Smith Jr. at the Turning Stone Casino in Verona, NY, told The Ring in his native Russian.
“But, as much I think about it I also know I can’t waste time thinking about it because either the fights will happen or they won’t. We believe we can make these fights possible because if the boxers want to fight then it will be done. But if for some reason we can’t then we have no choice but to look at other options and other champions.”
Among the things he’d like to make happen is moving down to 168 pounds to meet Canelo Alvarez, who most recently defeated Rocky Fielding at super middleweight to capture Fielding’s WBA secondary title, or Callum Smith, who holds the WBA regular belt and is promoted by Eddie Hearn.
Both Alvarez and Smith fight on DAZN as does Bivol now.
“Those fights are interesting for me because I know I can make 168 pounds,” Bivol explained. “I have never struggled to make 175 pounds, so it is doable for me. It just depends on timing and what is happening in my division with the other champions. For me I am interested in any challenge.”
Signing with DAZN has aligned the 28-year-old Bivol with Hearn who can facilitate possible matchups with either Alvarez or Smith. Bivol said his team factored in all the possible scenarios before deciding to sign with DAZN after HBO, which had broadcasted each of his fights since defeating knocking out Trent Broadhurst to win the world title in 2017, decided to leave the boxing business.
“Ever since that fight in Monaco I was impressed with Eddie Hearn and how he organizes his shows,” Bivol added. “Eddie then invited us to London for an Anthony Joshua fight and it was truly impressive and he said his is a fan of mine and appreciates my boxing skills. These were the reasons we chose to go with DAZN. Plus, this is all new for boxing. We are entering a world where fans are transitioning from watching boxing on television to watching on their phones and Eddie has the vision for how to make this happen.”
After capturing the world title, Bivol made two appearances on Sergey Kovalev cards in hopes of building up a unification matchup between the two Russian stars but any hopes of a superfight were scrapped when on the same night Bivol took care of business by defeating the durable Isaac Chilemba on a warm evening in Atlantic City, Kovalev was stunningly knocked out by Eleider Alvarez, losing his WBO belt. Since Kovalev exercised his rematch clause Bivol went ahead a made a successful title defense against the crafty Jean Pascal on HBO’s next to last boxing telecast.
“I was upset that Sergey lost first and foremost because he is a great champion and a good friend,” Bivol said. “Him losing caused us to change our plans but now he is a champion again and I think fans would love to see our fight. I think it would be great for boxing and a very tough fight for me and I would welcome that opportunity whenever Sergey is ready.”
Although Bivol’s previous two bouts went the distance and the bout before that against Sullivan Barrera was two minutes away from going the distance it is not lost on Bivol that how he finishes a fight is as important as winning.
“Of course it’s always great to get a knockout and I know a lot of fans look for that,” Bivol points out. “This is boxing and things don’t go as planned. If Chilemba or Pascal want to fight in defensive style and not engage with me then I might not knock them out. If they are okay losing on points then that’s on them and their styles. I like to come forward and be aggressive, but I also have patience and trained to fight any fight. There are a lot of fans who understand this and appreciate good boxing technique.”
In Smith Jr. (24-2, 20 KOs) Bivol expects to have a live fighter who will try to knock him out as much Bivol wants to do the same.
“I watched his fights with Fonfara and of course the Bernard Hopkins fight too and I know he is very aggressive and wants to win and be a champion,” Bivol said. “He always comes in great shape and I think this will be a great fight. Not only am I ready, but I am also excited for this matchup.”
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