Joe Smith Jr. always knew Dmitry Bivol had a good chance of upsetting Canelo Alvarez to the extent that he was willing to put some coin behind his opinion.
Bivol defeated Alvarez via unanimous decision in their 12-round 175-pound title bout last month at the T-Mobile Center in Las Vegas. Bivol won 115-113 on all three judges’ scorecards.
Smith, the hard hitting WBO light heavyweight titlist from Long Island, New York, has first-hand experience on how difficult the Russian WBA light heavyweight titlist can be inside the ring. So he was not surprised by the outcome of the fight. Indeed, Smith revealed that he bet on Bivol, the oddsmakers’ underdog, to pull off the win.
“I thought Bivol had a great chance to win the fight just with their styles,” Smith said on The DAZN Boxing Show. “I feel Canelo’s used to aggressive guys, guys that are constantly trying to knock him out, coming forward, whereas Bivol is not that kind of guy. He’s gonna pick his shots and move.
“I kind of pictured the fight the way it went. Actually, I bet [on Bivol]. I put a little money on it.”
Smith had an even more lopsided encounter with Bivol in their light heavyweight title bout in 2019, which Bivol won by a comfortable margin. However, the Long Islander managed to get in a couple of right hands, in the third and 10th rounds, that did some apparent damage on the elusive Russian. The punch in the 10th round, which landed right as the bell rang, was particularly eye-catching as it showed Bivol noticeably stumble back to his corner.
Given how hurt Bivol looked in his corner, Smith has always insisted that he would rectify his mistakes in a rematch. Indeed, asked if he would rather face Alvarez or Bivol, Smith unequivocally chose the latter, despite the fact that a fight with Alvarez would virtually guarantee Smith a career payday. Smith (28-3, 22 KOs) is scheduled to face WBC, IBF light heavyweight champion Artur Beterbiev (17-0, 17 KOs) on June 18 at Madison Square Garden in New York City.
“I want Bivol, really,” Smith said. “I want that belt. I wanna be undisputed. If I could get that fight, beat him, then anything’s possible after that.”