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'I'm ready! What about you?' Kovalev calls out Bivol for unification fight after classy WBA defense

'I'm ready! What about you?' Kovalev calls out Bivol for unification fight after classy WBA defense
Russian boxer Dmitry Bivol defended his WBA light-heavyweight world crown by outclassing American Joe Smith Jr on Saturday, drawing calls from WBO titlist and compatriot Sergey Kovalev for a unification fight between the two.

Bivol outpointed a rugged Smith by unanimous decision over 12 rounds in a top-of-the-bill fight at the Turning Stone Resort & Casino, Verona, New York, on Saturday. The three judges sitting ringside scored the bout by wide margins of 119-109, 119-109 and 118-110 for the 28-year-old St. Petersburg native.

It was the fourth defence of the title for Bivol against a strong-punching Smith, who holds the distinction of being the only man to knock out evergreen boxing great Bernard Hopkins in his swansong fight, but who was handles easily by Bivol, whose resume has grown in recent fights against a handful of top operators.

Bivol’s win means he now sits pretty in the talent-rich light heavyweight division and moves one step closer to a mega unification fight with WBO champion and compatriot Sergey Kovalev, mooted for the end of summer 2019.

After the fight, Kovalev was full of plaudits for his Kyrgyz-born compatriot, but urged his fellow champion to settle on a fight for "the world of boxing".

"Congratulations to Dmitry Bivol on a Big win!" Kovalev wrote on Instagram. "Dima, let's organize a fight, that will thrill the entire boxing world. I'm ready! What about you?"

Bivol's trainer Vadim Kornilov has previously expressed his desire for the two to meet, and after the fight reaffirmed that a fight between two Russian world champions is close to fruition.

"Of course the fight is of interest to us," Vadim Kornilov said after the fight. "Kovalev is the best in the division, he has dominated for long enough in this weight category. We are ready at the end of summer to meet in a unification fight."

Also on rt.com ‘Only a bad soldier doesn’t dream of being a general’ – Russian boxing world champ Dmitry Bivol

One other fight of particular interest to unify the 175 lbs division could come against another Russian in Canada-based Dagestani and KO-king Artur Beterbiev, who holds the IBF belt, and has knocked out all 13 of this opponents thus far.

Both fighter and manager have also called for a fight with pound-for-pound superstar Mexican Saul 'Canelo' Alvarez in the 168 lbs super middleweight division, even producing a mock-up fight poster titled 'opposites collide' to precipitate a matchup. 

Canelo, who is ranked number 5 in the world at super middleweight and also holds the Ring Magazine and WBA and WBC middleweight titles.

Kornilov previously said Bivol would have "no problem" making the drop down to the 168 lbs division to fulfill his dream of being a champion in two weight classes, but for the time being, a fight with Florida-based Kovalev seems to make most sense for all parties involved.