With their hopes of a Dmitry Bivol-Sergey Kovalev unification match thoroughly dashed by Eleider Alvarez, ESPN reports that the respective powers-that-be are looking to pit Bivol against Joe Smith, Jr. on HBO at some point before year’s end.
The card will also feature Jaime Munguia’s third title defense, which will also be his sixth appearance of 2018. Gotta love the effort.
Smith Jr. (24-2, 20 KO) is ranked #7 by the WBA, but considering those above him include Badou Jack (has eyes on WBC title), Marcus Browne (accused domestic abuser), and a few others with lesser or equal pedigrees, the match makes sense. Smith was last seen knocking out Melvin Russell in 105 seconds last June, his first fight since falling to Sullivan Barrera 11 months prior.
Smith still has time to improve at 28 years old and can clearly punch, but the most pressing question against Bivol (14-0, 11 KO) will be whether the former can survive until the bell. Just to repeat again, though, this matchmaking is fine; Bivol really doesn’t have many top opponents to choose from in the WBA rankings whom he hasn’t beaten already.
Here’s hoping that we get some fun fights once Alvarez-Kovalev II and Adonis Stevenson-Oleksandr Gvozdyk sort themselves out.