Joe Smith Jr. Interview: “I have to make sure I take full advantage of these opportunities”
By: Matthew N. Becher
Joe Smith Jr. is the heavy hitting light heavyweight that took the boxing world by storm in 2016. The native Long Islander, who sports an impressive 23-1 19KO record, solidified himself as one of the top guys in the 175lb division.
Smith traveled to Chicago to face the favored, Andrzej Fonfara, and knocked out the Pol in 1 round. Smith then got his big shot against Bernard Hopkins, headlining a televised HBO main event.
Not only did Smith send Hopkins off into retirement, but he did so by becoming the first person to ever knock Hopkins out and he literally knocked him out of the ring.
Smith is preparing for his first fight of 2017, this time against a fellow hard hitting light heavyweight in Sullivan Barrera. The fight takes place at the Famous Forum in Inglewood, California live on HBO, July 15th. We spoke with Joe to see how he was doing ahead of another big time fight.
Boxing Insider: What has changed in your life since the Hopkins fight?
Joe Smith Jr.: More and more people are recognizing me and seeing I’m the real deal. After the Hopkins fight, finishing him the way I did, people loved it and are giving me a lot of credit for it.
Boxing Insider: Are you still working your construction job, or are you done with all that?
Joe Smith Jr.: At this time I am off. After the Hopkins fight I went back for a couple weeks. I took off and started focusing more on the boxing.
Boxing Insider: So you are completely done and are full time boxing now?
Joe Smith Jr.: No, I’m still in the Union. I still go back to work, I like to go to work here and there to clear my head and keep me busy.
Boxing Insider: In the Hopkins fight, what was it like to retire a legend, in the fashion that you did?
Joe Smith Jr.: It was great. I’m happy that I got that opportunity to fight Hopkins and win the way I did.
Boxing Insider: You are promoted by Star Boxing. How would you rate them getting you these big fights in the last couple years?
Joe Smith Jr.: They have been doing a great job. Star Boxing has been getting me big fights and I have to make sure I take full advantage of these opportunities. Train my ass off so that they can get me more big fights.
Boxing Insider: There was talk about a fight with you and Adonis Stevenson. What ever happened with that fight?
Joe Smith Jr.: I started training for Stevenson. I took off of work, and then just nothing happened with it. I was hoping for the opportunity, but instead he fought Fonfara, who I knocked out in one round. I didn’t really hear much about it, we thought we were fighting him the whole time. So, they found somebody else (Barrera) and I’m just training for that.
Boxing Insider: What was your reaction when you found out that Fonfara would be getting a second shot at Stevenson?
Joe Smith Jr.: I thought it was wrong, but I guess he wanted to make some money and take an easy fight.
Boxing Insider: You’ve had a seven month stretch between the Hopkins fight and this upcoming one against Barrera. How do you think the long layoff will affect you?
Joe Smith Jr.: It’s been a long time since people have seen me in the ring, but I have been training the whole time since the Hopkins fight. I’ve been back in the gym two weeks after for Stevenson and that fell through, and then I just started preparing for the next guy until I had a fight.