Joe Smith Jr Is Now A World Champion, Defeats Maxim Vlasov By Majority Decision
Joe Smith Jr. – World Champion
Sometimes it is easier being doubted, than it is to be the favorite.
Joe Smith Jr. is now a world-champion, but winning his first world title, the WBO light heavyweight title to be exact, was about as easy as it was for him to get there – which was not easy as Maxim Vlasov, became well-respect fighter in America, after this fight as well.
For those who don’t know the Joe Smith Jr. story, let me preface. Smith Jr was a healthy underdog against Andrzej Fonfara, who had at that time stopped Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., and was looking like a “Capital G Guy” in the division. Smith Jr in his next fight looked to be the next guy in line for HBO as he knocked out Bernard Hopkins, in the hall-of-famers last fight.
Yet, Smith Jr. would get his jaw broken in the first round against Sullivan Barrera and lose. After a bounce back win, Smith Jr would lose to Dmitry Bivol, fighting for his first world title, the WBA light heavyweight title.
A year later, Smith Jr. resurfaced and went on a run, as he defeated Jesse Hart, and Eleider Alvarez, both of whom were favored against him.
The capstone to a unique working class fighter, who never quit his day job working at the local 66 for his whole fight career was tonight getting a majority decision over Maxim Vlasov. Let’s be honest the fight wasn’t pretty, and for the first half, Smith Jr. was losing. You could see early on Smith Jr.’s promoter, Joe DeGuardia of Star Boxing, motioning for Smith to go to body, but Vlasov was elusive.
As much as writers and fans wanted to see Smith win, Vlasov had no intentions of losing. Often we see world title fights that look more like sparring matches, or one guy conceding to the other over time – this one was a fight.
Joe Smith Jr. had career highs in power punches and punches thrown as he came on strong in the final rounds, soundly winning the 12th round, which appeared to be the round that swung the fight in the end, and even dropped Vlasov, though it was called a rabbit punch, and the referee let Vlasov go to his corner, which he shouldn’t have as well.
Even though my final card read as a draw, 114-114, Smith Jr. accomplished something that it felt like he should’ve already done – and that is great, he became a world champion. The king of the upsets, now can also share his name amongst some of the best to have ever grace his division.
Next up it appears is Artur Beterbiev, which will be a violent affair.
Efe Ajagba – Scary Power!
Undefeated Efe Ajagba has scary power. Ajabga’s third round KO of Brian Howard proved this tenfold.
Ajagba, who had a disappointing bout in his last fight, silenced many of the critics, by beating a fighter who had posed some problems for him in the fight, as he found a way to land his devastating right hand.
Ajagba has recently started training with Kay Koroma, in fact, this is his second fight with Coach Kay, and not unlike what we’ve seen with Jarrett Hurd, Koroma is bringing new elements to Ajabga, while not getting away from what got him to the dance – Ajabga’s power.
Ajabga will have some very exciting fights in the near future, and now with a new promoter, Top Rank, it shouldn’t be long before we see him in a 50-50 fight.
The Star of Jared Anderson Grows
Heavyweight Jared “The Real Big Baby” Anderson continues his knockout streak, as he has nine career knockouts in nine fights. Sporting a chef’s outfit, Anderson cooked up another masterful performance stopping Jeremiah Karpency in just two rounds.
Anderson has the charisma of Teofimo Lopez, and the knockout power of Edgar Berlanga. It is truly scary, how big of a star, Anderson could be if he continues on the trajectory he is headed towards. Anderson feels like one of the truly special fighters on the rise in a heavyweight division of mostly older guys.
Beyond that, outside of maybe the top guys in the division, it is hard to think of people that stand a chance against a very young Anderson, who probably hasn’t even fully pushed himself in the gym. Anderson is trending towards being a generational talent, if everything goes right.
Heavyweight Trey Lippe Morrison, the son of Tommy Morrison, did little to dispel the rough stigma that follows him as a local attraction in the Oklahoma market, and to a cynical eye, some might even suspect some funny business. The bout was weird, Morrison was counted down by the ref with his opponent objecting to the call before his opponent was unable to continue due to an ankle injury. Morrison has the tough act of trying to follow in the footsteps of his father, who is not just a local legend, but an icon, where they’re from, and that is never easy no matter what the sport.
2016 Brazilian Olympic Gold Medalist Robson Conceicao got a seventh-round stoppage of Jesus Antonio Ahumada. The win was big after his very close bout with Luis Coria in Halloween of 2020. Conceicao is inching his way toward a world title shot at the featherweight division, and one can’t help, but think the winner of Christopher “Pitufo” Diaz and Emanuel Navarrete, might not be that far away from him. Another interesting opponent would be Joet Gonzalez, as well. Conceicao appears to be ready for the world to see how far he can go.
130 lbs. contender Albert Bell picked up a workman like performance against Manuel Rey Rojas, getting unanimous 78-74 win on all three scorecards. Bell is a solid fighter, but is married to his style which is hard to look good against, and without a large backing or a lot of knockouts, Bell will have to get his world rankings up, to merit consideration from the top guys of the division. In that regard, Bell reminds me of Miguel Vasquez, though they fight differently, as Bell needs a sanctioning body to help in his journey to big fights.
Duke Ragan picked up his fourth professional win by way of a unanimous decision over Charles Clark. Most notable in this bout was Ragan’s opponent talking trash while being down in the fight, which was an odd audio/visual to take in.
2019 Olympic Trials silver medalist, and Tulsa, Oklahoma native Jeremiah Milton picked a sensational knockout as Milton Jayvone Dafney out on his feet. Milton should dignity and class in not furthering the damage by backing off and looking for the ref. A socially aware person in-and-out of the ring.
After five fights in 2019, the year heavyweight Sonny Conto (7-0, 6KOs) turned pro with Top Rank Inc., he was stuck with just one fight in January of 2020. Conto returned tonight with a highlight-reel KO in the first-round of the fight. Conte’s next bout should be a six-rounder in a perfect world.