On Saturday night in Verona, New York, Russia’s Dmitry Bivol dominated Joe Smith over twelve rounds, winning by a unanimous decision to retain his World Boxing Association light heavyweight world title for the fifth time.
The 28-year-old Bivol won on the scorecards of all three judges at the Turning Stone Resort Casino — two had it at 119-109 while the other put it at 118-110.
Bivol improved to 16-0 with 11 knockouts, while Smith dropped to 24-3 with 20 KOs.
Bivol used his fast hands, strong power and deep experience as an amateur to keep Smith off guard. In his last fight 11 months ago, he won a similar dominating unanimous decision win over Sullivan Barrera.
Smith was coming off a first-round knockout victory over Melvin Russell and fighting for a title for the first time in his career.
After the fight, Bivol called for a unification with one of the other champions.
“I just end this fight and I want to relax. I want to fight for another belt. I am ready for a unification belt,” Bivol said.
Upon hearing those words, WBO world champion Sergey Kovalev called for the unification showdown.
“Congratulations to Dmitry Bivol on a big win!” Kovalev wrote on Instagram. “Dmitry, let’s organize a fight, that will thrill the entire boxing world. I’m ready! What about you?”
When both boxers were fighting on HBO, the network was building up their showdown, but Kovalev suffered a knockout loss at the hands of Eleider Alvarez last August and the bout was derailed. Kovalve regained the title last month with a dominant decision over Alvarez in their rematch.
Although both boxers work with promoter Main Events, they are aligned with different outlets. Top Rank has several options on Kovalev to showcase him on ESPN, while Bivol recently signed a lucrative co-promotional contract with Eddie Hearn of Matchroom and streaming service DAZN.