Joe Smith Jr. and Dmitry Bivol struck the iconic pose for the cameras, staring each other down on cue. Bivol’s shiny gold-plated title belt hung from his right shoulder.
That’s the prize Smith wants to take away from the undefeated Russian champ and bring back to Long Island. The 29-year-old boxer from Mastic will finally get his chance at a major title. He will be stepping into the ring Saturday night at Turning Stone Resort Casino in upstate Verona, trying to claim the WBA light heavyweight championship.
“This is what every fighter dreams of, their shot at a world title,” Smith said Wednesday during a news conference at Dream Downtown hotel in Manhattan. “This is my shot. The work has been put in over the years, and I’m going to put it all together this Saturday.”
Smith has fought 26 times. He has won 24 of them, including against Andrzej Fonfara and Bernard Hopkins. Twenty of Smith’s wins have come via KOs.
“He’s something special,” said Joe DeGuardia, Smith’s promoter. “He’s got a sledgehammer in that [right] hand that I’ve never seen before. Both hands.”
After viewing several of Smith’s fights on tape, Bivol wouldn’t issue a denial.
“He’s got good power,” said Bivol, who’s 15-0 with 11 KOs. “This is true.”
That said, Bivol added, “If I do everything which I did in my training camp, I will win.”
Smith is planning on a different ending. Just the thought of possibly being the champ is enough to send a rush through him.
“Yeah, definitely, my adrenaline’s going,” Smith told Newsday. “I just want to get in that ring and make it happen. I want to bring home the title.
“I believe it’s going to be a great fight. I think you’re going to see slugging and boxing.”
So what would it mean to him to be a world champ?
“It’s everything I’ve worked for,” Smith said. “It’s the biggest accomplishment I can make in my life.”
The card will be streamed live on DAZN. Maurice Hooker will defend his WBO super lightweight title against Brooklyn’s Mikkel LesPierre. Seanie Monaghan, the 37-year-old light heavyweight from Long Beach, will also be fighting against Callum Johnson. Monaghan is 29-2 after dropping two of his last three bouts.
“I’ve got my back to the wall in my career right now,” Monaghan said. “I feel like if I lose this fight, it’s over. So I’m desperate for a win.”