Can Joe Smith Jr Script His Own Hollywood Ending?
Oftentimes, Hollywood movies about sports portray unlikely athletes from a rugged background, beating the elite squad against all odds. Ironically enough, this is almost exactly how WBO light heavyweight champion Joe “The Common Man” Smith Jr’s (28-3, 22 KO’s) career is playing out in reality. In his very next match, Smith will face the challenge of IBF and WBC light heavyweight champion Artur Beterbiev (17-0, 17 KO’s) June 18 LIVE on ESPN @ 10:00 PM ET in a highly anticipated unification!
The Common Man peaked the interests of the average boxing fan when he blew out top-rated contender Andrzej Fonfara in one round back in June 2016. However, when he stepped in the ring with the “forever young” legend Bernard Hopkins back in his very next bout, this official made him a fixture in the sport.
Although, Hopkins was quite advanced in years, many felt the tricky veteran would pull another rabbit out the hat. Rather than having his way with Smith as Hopkins assured he would, he was instead roughed-up, knocked clean through the ropes to the floor below and out the sport. The match with Smith would be Hopkins’ last contracted prizefight.
Now all these years later, provided that he does topple Beterbiev, then WBA super 175-pound champion Dmitry Bivol would be the last man standing preventing Smith Jr from being the undisputed champion of the division. For Team Smith, hopping back in the squared-circle with Bivol for all the marbles would be poetic in and of itself. Of his three professional losses, Bivol was the most recent. Let the Common Man tell it, the most educational.
TWO DUST-UPS TO GO BEFORE UNDISPUTED!
It was during the, March 2019, loss to Bivol where Smith claims to have really seen a separation of skill when facing the WBA champion. The wide unanimous decision scorecards in Bivol’s favor reflected this disparity. Rather than becoming discouraged by this event, the Common Man doubled down on his fundamentals and rededicated himself to training. Since the Bivol eye-opener, Smith Jr has compiled four straight wins, two by knockout, over Jesse Hart, Eleider Alvarez, Maxim Vlasov and Steve Geffrard.
While the WBO champ is brimming with confidence, Beterbiev should prove to be one tough safe to crack. Not only is the talented Russian undefeated, the rough-knuckled bruiser has stopped every professional opponent he has faced. Also, the unified champion clearly has his own plans on becoming undisputed to fulfill.
Thankfully for the fans their impending showdown, housed in the belly in the infamous Madison Square Garden, is all but upon us! So let’s tune in to see if Smith has his fantastic finish or if those dreams are violently dissolved.
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By: Bakari Simpson