By: Hans Themistode
All of the long hours and hard work that Joe Smith Jr. put in is all seemingly for nothing. At least for now.
The light heavyweight contender was just recently informed that his upcoming showdown against Maxim Vlasov for the vacant WBO title will no longer take place this weekend as Vlasov has tested positive for COVID-19.
To the surprise of no one, Vlasov was gutted by the news.
“I am devastated with the postponement of my world title fight against Joe Smith Jr,” said Vlasov. “I have been following strict protocols, I have done regular testing with negative results, and I have no symptoms. I am well prepared and had an excellent training camp. I look forward to the rescheduling of the fight and the opportunity to display my world-class skills.”
For Smith Jr., the road to becoming a world champion appeared to be lining up perfectly for him. With back to back wins against Jesse Hart and former titlist Eleider Alvarez, Smith Jr. stomped his way to his second world title attempt. The Long Island native’s first shot originally came roughly one and a half years ago against Dmitry Bivol.
Breaking down their showdown is a simplistic one as Smith Jr. was dominated round after round. Still, even with the lopsided loss, promoter Bob Arum was confident that Smith Jr. would blast out Vlasov which would ultimately set up a three belt unification matchup with unified champion Artur Beterbiev.
Those plans obviously, will now have to wait.
Even without the main attraction, the show must go on. Stepping into the spotlight on the night will be former IBF lightweight titlist Richard Commey. For the former belt holder, it’ll be his first ring action since a second round knockout loss at the hands of Teofimo Lopez in December of 2019.
Joe Smith Jr vs Eleider Alvarez
For the second consecutive contest in a row, light heavyweight contender Joe Smith Jr (26-3, 21 KOs) was given no respect from oddsmakers.
The doubters never bothered the Long Island native, and once again, he made them look foolish on the night.
Smith Jr. gave former title holder Eleider Alvarez (25-2, 13 KOs) the beating of a life-time in the main event at the MGM Grand Conference Center in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Alvarez came out of the gate slow and lethargic. His activity was lower than usual and he consistently found himself having to defend himself from the nonstop pressure of Smith Jr.
With everything working for him on the night, Smith Jr. finally wore his man down in the ninth and landed a right hand that sent Alvarez right through the ropes. He laid there for a moment trying to catch his breath, but by the time he staggered to his feet, the referee gave the signal to call an end to their contest.
Julian Rodriguez vs Anthony Laureano
It’s been a night of short fights at the MGM Grand Conference in Las Vegas Nevada, and that only continued as Julian Rodriguez (20-0, 13 KOs) got rid of Anthony Laureano (13-1, 4 KOs) in the first round.
After two straight knockdowns, Rodriguez closed the show with a third and final one in the opening frame.
Clay Collard vs Maurice Williams
Clay Collard (9-2-3, 4 KOs) went from a nobody to an absolute star over night. With three wins in a row against undefeated fighters, Collard stepped into the ring tonight against Maurice Williams (7-2, 3 KOs).
For those who were expecting a competitive bout tonight at the MGM Grand Conference Center in Las Vegas Nevada were sadly mistaken as Collard dominated his man to the tune of a third round stoppage.
Duke Rogan vs Luis Alvarado
Things couldn’t have gone any better for Duke Rogan (1-0, 1 KO).
The featherweight product made his pro debut by scoring a quick knockout. The Cincinnati native hit his man with a devastating right hand that sent Luis Alvarado (1-2, 0 KO) down to the mat. To his credit, he managed to climb back to his feet but was completely unaware with his surroundings. That in turn forced the referee to wave their contest off.
By: Hans Themistode
Light heavyweight contenders Joe Smith Jr. and Eleider Alvarez will be looking to give the judges the night off when the two meet August 22nd, at the MGM Grand Conference Center in Las Vegas, Nevada.
A high level scalp won’t be the only reward for the victor as their contest is a WBO title eliminator.
For Alvarez (25-1, 13 KOs), his rise to the top of the division was a quick one. Unfortunately for him however, so was his fall from it.
The Colombian native parlayed an undefeated career into a WBO title shot against then champion Sergey Kovalev in 2018. With most of the world doubting his capabilities, Alvarez blocked out the noise. He went out and ripped the title from Kovalev via 7th round stoppage. The smiles that accompanied his performance however was short lived. Kovalev would enact his immediate rematch clause and outclass Alvarez over 12 rounds. Since then, he’s KO’d fringe contender Michael seals earlier this year.
But while Seals never truly presented much of a threat, former title challenger Joe Smith Jr. (25-1, 20 KOs) will be another story entirely.
Over the years, Smith Jr. has earned the reputation for upsetting the Apple cart. In 2016 the Long Island native scored a first round knockout over contender Andrzej Fonfara. From there, he found himself standing across future hall of famer, albeit over 50 years of age at the time, in Bernard Hopkins. Smith Jr. would knock Hopkins right out of the ring and right into retirement. Despite his success, in his first bid to win a world title, he fell woefully short against Dmitry Bivol.
Nevertheless, that loss hasn’t put a dent in his title aspirations. In his most recent ring outing, he dominated Jesse Hart. Now, he finds himself on the cusp of another title shot should he get past Alvarez.
With four division world champion Canelo Alvarez, vacating his 175 pound WBO title in order to move back down in weight, both Smith Jr. and Alvarez are attempting to place themselves ahead of the pack to grab the vacant gold.
By: Hans Themistode
The last time Canelo Alvarez was seen inside of the ring, he was being lifted into the air by trainer Eddie Reynoso shortly after leaving Sergey Kovalev slumped over the bottom ropes. The win gifted Alvarez with several awards. He was moved up by most to the number one spot on their pound for pound list. More importantly though, Alvarez picked up Kovalev’s WBO Light Heavyweight title.
Fighters often devote their entire careers to becoming a champion, but for Alvarez, a multiple time champion across four weight classes, simply tossed his newly won trinket to the side and opted for a move to the Super Middleweight division. Now, with the WBO title up for grabs, we are getting closer to who will claim the vacant strap.
Light Heavyweight contenders Eleider Alvarez and Joe Smith Jr. have come to an agreement for a title eliminator with a speculative date of July 16th being tossed around. The MGM Grand Convention Center in Las Vegas Nevada has emerged as the frontrunner in terms of the location.
Both men are in familiar positions coming off bounce back wins. For Smith, he was lethargic and apathetic in a loss against Dmitry Bivol in 2019, but he looked like a completely different man against Jesse Hart. He rocked the Philadelphia native earlier this year and dominated much of the contest. Ignore the split decision victory as much of the contest was in the favor of Smith. As for Eleider Alvarez, the former world title holder immediately dropped his title against former belt holder Sergey Kovalev.
Paying for that loss was Michael Seals. Alvarez landed a picture perfect right hand in the seventh round to place himself back in the winners circle.
Now, with both men finding a bit of momentum, there could be an even bigger prize for the winner of their contest.
With a victory, either man could be in line to face the winner of Maksim Vlasov vs Umar Salamov for the vacant WBO title.