Joe Smith Jr will be mindful not to overlook the task of Maxim Vlasov
On April 10, light heavyweight fighter Joe Smith Jr (26-3, 21 KO’s) will get his second attempt at a full world title. His first bid, against Dmitry Bivol on March 9, 2019, ended in a sour unanimous decision loss. Smith recovered with back-to-back wins over Jesse Hart and Eleider Alvarez. Now he is slated to face Maxim Vlasov (45-3, 26 KO’s) in the main event of an ESPN telecast. Hanging in the balance will be the vacant WBO World Light Heavyweight title.
The two were originally scheduled to toss knuckles on February 13, yet that was before Vlasov contracted COVID-19. Now that the Russian has recovered from the ailment, the two pugilists are ready to rock and roll. Heading into this match-up, many are tabbing Smith as the favorite to defeat his opponent. While the New Jersey native is happy to hear these sentiments, he is not so quick to write Vlasov off.
KEEP YOUR EYES ON THE BALL
Going in as the favorite is something of an unusual phenomenon for the Smith. When preparing to lock horns with Bernard Hopkins, Sullivan Barrera and Super WBA World Light Heavyweight champion Dmitry Bivol, he was expected to lose. Unfortunately for him, he did come up short against Barrera and Bivol, but the Hopkins win injected his career with a tremendous jolt of notoriety. Having arrived on the big stage and tasted both sweet victory and the oily bitterness of defeat, Smith is approaching this next bout with care. As he explained in a recent media round table, the New Jersey native is very focused on Vlasov and nothing and no one else.
“Yeah, I definitely have a tough task in front of me. I know that Maxim is a tough durable guy [and] all the opportunities that would come if I win this fight could be his if he wins. So I know there is a lot on the line and I have a lot to look forward to. So I have to get out there and give it a 110% to make sure those opportunities come my way!”
Provided that Smith does win, that will make him one of the three belt-holding champions in the division. Naturally, he would love to unify with either IBF and WBC World Light Heavyweight champion Artur Beterbiev or Bivol. Yet, between the two, it is more likely that Smith would love to get a shot at revenge against Bivol. First however, Joe Smith Jr has to topple Maxin Vlasov if he wants to do anything significant next! So let’s just wait until the April 10 to see how it unfolds.
By: Bakari Simpson