The American working class hero Joe Smith Jr will finally be graced with his first title challenge against one of the toughest, most accomplished lightheavies in the division, WBA champ Dmitry Bivol, Saturday, March 9th@Turning Stone Resort & Casino, Verona, New York.
Joe, who is currently 17th ranked in boxrec, wandered off of a construction site in New York City to first take the boxing world by storm when he obliterated Andrzej Fonfara, an established contender often credited with beating up WBC champ Adonis Stevenson to no credit by the judges. That mission accomplished, his team waited for title shot offers that either never came, or tried to lowball this gritty fighter emerging out of nowhere, but one fighter targeted him for his easy retirement fight. Bernard Hopkins was looking for an easy mark like the raw, untutored construction worker to low blow, butt open and otherwise monkey around with to the cheers of the motley n’er do wells who populate the Hopkins fan base.
Alas, the best laid plans of mice and boxing exploitation men found them unexpectedly derailed after the grittiest, most comprehensive Knockout of the decade, blasting Hopkins helplessly through the ropes onto the concrete floor below. Women were sobbing as the sobering reality of Hopkins’ Grand Finale sunk in.
Bivol chose a more conventional boxing route from his birthplace of Kyrgyzstan to that of Russia where much boxing opportunity exists for the youth to pursue. Bivol is 28 years of age, and Joe 29, so they are in their traditional athletic primes. Joe has certainly got enough boxing skills to knock out just about anyone, but has been held back by his Achilles heel, that of an easily fractured chin, something less than sharp hitters than Bivol have accomplished in the past.
Just looking at the face off you can see the incredible thickness of Joe’s neck in comparison. He’s taller than his boxrec 6-0, so how he makes 175 lbs with that amount of musculature is the story of modern boxing. I don’t recall anyone listing his fight weight, but I would suggest over 190 lbs. That’s British promoter Eddie Hearns who was one of the players instrumental in launching the game changing DAZN streaming platform.
All I can say is it’s about time boxing manned up to Joe with a title shot and this one has a chance to be a doozy. Good luck gentlemen. May the best man win.