Joe Smith Jr Looking to Dust Off Callum Johnson in Style!
Without question, WBO light heavyweight champion Joe Smith Jr (27-3, 21 KO’s) is intensely focused on his upcoming January 15 fight. On that date, Smith will stage the first defense of his world title against Callum “The One” Johnson (20-1, 14 KO’s) in the Turning Stone Resort and Casino located in Verona, New York.
Smith is highly focused on this fight. He realizes that Johnson is a roadblock preventing the grander prizefights that he craves. This does not mean that Smith is overlooking the One. As Johnson is ranked #2 (WBC), #3 (IBF) and #5 (WBO), the blue collar New Yorker knows he can’t take him lightly, or afford a bad performance. Defeating the UK bruiser will open him up to contract the unification bouts that his heart is truly set on.
STANDING IN MY WAY
On the one hand, Joe Smith is well within his right to dream about bigger fights down the line. After all, we all need our motivations. Nevertheless, there are few things more dangerous in the sport of boxing than overlooking an adversary. Luckily, Smith is not slow to the game and is guarding against falling victim to the longstanding pitfall. As the WBO champion explained on the Last Stand Podcast, he is well aware that Johnson will be no pushover.
“I believe he is going to come right after me and try to knock me out early and I am prepared to have a tough fight and go to war. I am expecting him to come right for me and I plan to do the same…I want to make a statement in this fight [and] look better than [Artur] Beterbiev did. So, I am putting in the work in the gym and the hours and hopefully everything works out great!”
EVERYTHING TO LOSE
Just as Smith has his own ambitions of staging unification bouts, so too does his opponent. In fact, the WBO champion feels that Johnson will be that much more dangerous because this may be his last chance at achieving that glory.
“You lose a fight now, at this stage, and you’re setback for a long time, pretty much! You don’t want a loss at this point. I just won the belt and I got to get past him [Johnson] and then there are so many big opportunities on the table and I know that. So, I’m giving it everything that I got on the date. I know that he is going to be doing the same because this is probably going to be his last shot at a world championship. So, I’m expecting the best of him and I am sure he is expecting the best of me. And that’s what I am going to give him.”
It will be interesting to see who prevails in this meaningful prizefight come January 15. While the victor is unknown, its very well-known that one of these men is leaving the ring with crushed hopes and dreams. Yet, we will just have to tune in to see which man it will be!
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By: Bakari Simpson