By Jake Donovan
Sergey Kuzmin and Dmitry Bivol have shared the same card on six previous occasions, including an April ’17 show in Maryland which saw Bivol win his first major title.
Their next adventure together could put the unbeaten heavyweight one step closer to joining his stablemate.
Russia’s Kuzmin will fight for the first time in 2019 in supporting capacity to Bivol’s light heavyweight title defense versus Long Island (N.Y.)-based contender Joe Smith Jr. on March 9 in upstate New York. An opponent has been revealed for Kuzmin, as BoxingScene.com has learned he will face Philadelphia’s Joey Dawejko in a scheduled 10-round contest.
Both bouts will stream live on DAZN, marking the platform debut for Kuzmin (14-0, 11KOs), who along with Bivol is guided by high-powered manager Vadim Kornilov. Also on the card, unbeaten 14-pound titlist Maurice Hooker (25-0-3, 17KOs) makes his first defense versus undefeated challenger Mikkel LesPierre (21-0-1, 10KOs).
The 31-year old former amateur standout from Russia has been matched aggressively since turning pro in Nov. ’14. To date, nearly all of Kuzmin’s opponents have enjoyed vastly more pro experience than the rising heavyweight, with his next assignment following suit.
Dawejko (19-6-4, 11KOs) will never be confused for a world beater, but has always provided a tough night at the office for all previous foes. The 28-year old Philadelphia-bred pug has only been stopped once in his near 10-year career, the lone such occasion coming in a 3rd round knockout at the hands of then-unbeaten Charles Martin in a 2013 fight he accepted on barely one week’s notice.
A record of 11-3-2 has since followed, with hard fought losses to local rivals Amir Mansour and Bryant Jennings going the distance and with the veteran gatekeeper remaining on his feet for all 10 rounds each time. His level of toughness is precisely the test Kuzmin seeks while remaining active in pursuit of a heavyweight title for which he plans to challenge by year’s end.
Bivol’s first such opportunity came in April ’17, when he upended Samuel Clarkson in four rounds to pick up a vacant interim light heavyweight strap on a show where Kuzmin scored a 3rd round knockout. The heavyweight is 6-0 (5KOs) on nights where he and Bivol share a bill, hoping that the next one will end in similarly dominant fashion and also warrant future title consideration.
“My fight against Dawejko is another step on my way to the world title,” insists Kuzmin, who is ranked in the Top 15 by the WBC, WBA and IBF.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox