Joe Smith Jr., Fighter-of-the-Year?
Last week, August 22nd, 2020, inside the Top Rank Bubble at the MGM Grand, Joe Smith Jr picked up his second upset win of the year, this time by way of a ninth-round knockout stopping former world champion, Eleider Alvarez.
Smith Jr. who is promoted by Star Boxing, has been rather unheralded at times, probably can trace his underdog roots as oddly as it sounds back to his 2010 loss to Eddie Caminero, a fighter with a marginal record when Smith was an emerging up-and-comer. Such a loss, that some look at his record, and view his ceiling as fixed or limited.
Joe Smith Jr. is a Union 66 Laborer, who is as blue-collar as it gets and essentially his own version of a Rocky story. Smith’s IG is about as interesting as most people’s parents attempt to use social media, and his pre-fight interview are subdued and mellow. In a world of a lot of non-sense, Smith is about walking it how you talk it, which seems to be far different than most in the public eye.
When Smith Jr. KOed Bernard Hopkins in Hopkins last fight, it was a result driven affair as Smith knocking Hopkins out of the ring was more memorable than a word he said, which is rare nowadays.
This past weekend, Smith came forward with pure aggression and hitting like a rhino, and not afraid to take a punch either. This style actually cost him, when Smith Jr. was in-line to be a capital G guy in the light heavyweight division after his aforementioned win over HOFer Bernard Hopkins, Smith fought Sullivan Barerra, a man whom he dropped only to have his jaw broken in the fight, and seeing his career momentum stopped, as dropped a decision.
The result of that loss seemed to be life on the b-side, again.
Smith faced Dmitry Bivol, one of the best pure talents in the sport, and rocked him late in the fight, but couldn’t do enough to win the bout as it looked as though his time in the sport, might be through.
Smith Jr., fresh off a loss to one of the boogeymen of the 175-pound division, Dmitry Bivol, has spent this past year, resurrecting his career, defeating Jesse Hart and Eleider Alvarez, both of whom were Top Rank fighters, that Smith Jr. came in on the b-side (not house fighter side) to win the bouts dominantly.
So this article is written, whether badly or adequate depending on your opinion of it, to simply ask; why isn’t Joe Smith Jr., the man with the biggest wins of the year, being brought up for fighter of the year?
This question is deeper for me, as I feel boxing is becoming more of a popularity contest, and not an achievement contest, so guys like Joe Smith Jr., go unnoticed since they’re not into all the b.s. Smith’s full-time job, and wait till fight night mentality seems to leave him overlooked by most, but let’s face facts.
Despite, Jesse Hart losing to Gilberto Ramirez, twice, Hart is a tough fighter, who since the amateurs has always been one of the ten best in his division, case-and-point, look at the Olympic Trials Hart was involved in. Smith dropped Jesse Hart in the seventh round to edge a split decision, against Hart who had become a known commodity after his series of bout with Ramirez.
Eleider Alvarez was a man who earned a Top Rank contract after knocking Sergey Kovalev. Alvarez lost to Kovalev in the rematch, but his world title win, made him a guy in the light heavyweight division, and despite his age, 36-years-old, most favored Alvarez over Smith. Yet, Smith brutally stopped him.
Look Smith Jr. isn’t Basquiat, or Modigliani, everything about his performances are blue-collar, hard-working and earned, that being said, so was Rocky Marciano, and many fighters of the past that we glorify, while in the modern times, Smith Jr. is rather anonymous in terms of accolades or credit when deserved. I simply wrote this as a historical document to say, Joe Smith Jr. deserves more credit.