Dmitry Bivol lands a jab to the body of Joe Smith. (Photo courtesy of Matchroom Boxing.)
Light heavyweight titleist Dmitry Bivol won a wide decision in his mandatory defense against Joe Smith Jr. on Saturday night in Verona, NY. Bivol (16-0, 11 KO) defended his World Boxing Association title by scores of 119-109 (x2) and 118-110. SportsMap.com also scored the fight 118-110 in favor of Bivol.
Despite the wide scores, Bivol had to survive a scare to get the win. At the end of the tenth round Bivol ate a huge right hand from Smith right as the bell rang. The punch staggered Bivol, who retreated to his corner holding onto the ropes. Bivol returned for the 11th round still not looking like himself, facing more hard shots from Smith (24-3, 20 KO) in the penultimate round than he seemingly did for the rest of the fight combined. For much of the 11th it looked like one well-placed shot from Smith could end the fight in a stunning come from behind knockout victory for the challenger from Long Island. But Bivol retained his form in the 12th round, nearly stopping Smith on his feet. Referee Gary Rosato looked in position to wave off the fight because of the accumulation of punches Bivol was landing, but Smith was saved by the final bell.
Smith, who is best known for his monster knockout of Bernard Hopkins that ended his career in 2016, looked to be at a boxing skill disadvantage from the opening bell. Bivol controlled the tempo easily winning the first nine rounds of the fight, staying out of trouble before the aforementioned right hand that changed the fight late. It was the second loss in three fights for Smith, who has struggled with jaw injuries recently. Smith lost a unanimous decision to Sullivan Barrera in 2017.
Bivol, who is aligned with Matchroom Promotions and the DAZN streaming service, now faces difficulty finding a big fight at light heavyweight because the other titlists at that weight are aligned with other networks. Bivol did mention that he will considered moving down to super middleweight, where a fight with WBA super champion and DAZN stablemate Callum Smith would be an easier fight to make.
SATURDAY IN CARSON: PORTER GETS GIFT AGAINST UGAS
Welterweight titlist Shawn Porter (30-2-1, 17 KO) retained his WBC belt on Saturday in a wildly unpopular split decision victory over challenger Yordenis Ugas. Porter won by scores of 115-113 and 116-112. The third judge scored the fight 117-111 in favor of Ugas. SportsMap.com scored the fight 116-112 in favor of Ugas. The crowd booed wildly when the decision was announced.
Porter, who is known for his physical, all-action style, was neutralized through much of the fight by Ugas (23-4, 11 KO,) who was able to constantly disrupt Porter's normal pace. The fight featured many difficult to score rounds throughout.
The fight could have turned in the 12th round when Ugas appeared to floor Porter with a looping right hand. Veteran referee Jack Reiss didn't score the blow as a knockdown, instead ruling that Porter slipped. Replays show the punch should have been ruled a knockdown. As the final bell sounded Ugas raised his hands in the air and celebrated; the face of a man who felt he won. Porter looked stunned, and as if he had resigned to the fact that he had been defeated.
One of the big factors that led to the Texans' loss to the Jaguars on Sunday was the secondary. Multiple flags for pass interference gave Jacksonville more opportunities to pick up first downs and score points.
Can confirm #Texans backup CB Shaq Griffin was cut.
Griffin started 6 games this year when Derek Stingley was out with a hamstring.
— DJ Bien-Aime (@Djbienaime) November 29, 2023
So it's no surprise that DeMeco Ryans is making some changes to his defense this week. According to several reports, Texans corner Shaq Griffin has been cut.
Nickel corner Tavierre Thomas was flagged for PI more than once on Sunday, and was burned badly by Jaguars receiver Calvin Ridley for a touchdown.
DeMeco was asked after the game if he considered replacing Thomas with Desmond King or Shaq Griffin. Ryans didn't give a definitive answer, but it looks like we got one today.
One has to wonder if Desmond Kings' experience playing nickel was the reason for his promotion to the active roster and why Griffin was released. If Thomas continues to struggle, King looks like the next man up to replace him.
#Texans activate Denzel Perryman, promote Desmond King to active roster, release Shaq Griffin, sign Matt Ammendola and Garret Wallow to practice squad, released Gerrid Doaks from practice squad and placed Tytus Howard (knee-patellar tendon surgery pending) on injured reserve https://t.co/knyyoqo7yC
— Aaron Wilson (@AaronWilson_NFL) November 29, 2023
The Texans also made some other adjustments to their roster on Wednesday, per Aaron Wilson. Linebacker Denzel Perryman returns from suspension, kicker Matt Ammendola and linebacker Garret Wallow join the practice squad. They also released Gerrid Doaks from the practice squad.
The other big piece of news involves left guard Tytus Howard. He heads to injured reserve, ending his season after hurting his knee against Jacksonville.