Boxing Insider Interview with Jez Smith: From Plumber to Boxer
By: Oliver McManus
Jez Smith is one of those fighters that as soon as you watch once, you can’t help but get hooked. Light-footed and heavy-handed, the 24 year old welterweight is primed to make an impact on the division and he’s got his immediate mind set on taking on his fellow unbeaten prospects – Connor Benn just one name that he’s targeting – and his career has, arguably, been slow to kick off especially after his all-out brawl with Macaulay McGowan back in 2016 but Jez, as he says himself, has rebuilt and feels ready for those titles whenever they come a-knocking.
I rang him up last week, when he was on a run, but he was kind enough to give me a half hour of his time when he got in so I won’t ramble on anymore, let’s just find out what he said –
Jez, great to speak to you, how did you first get into boxing?
I just followed my brother’s footsteps more than anything, my brother got bullied at school and went down the gym and because we were always close I was just around it and started doing it, really enjoyed it and realised I was good at and here I am.
Growing up with you and Mitch both boxing, was it always a good thing?
Yeah it was alright because we bounced off each other, we were always quite competitive so we’ve always wanted to be better than the other and that definitely helped.
At what point did you start considering boxing as a career?
To be honest I was doing it for fun, with the amateurs and I was winning a few tournaments, I represented England but when I got to senior level about 18 or 19, I went in the Senior ABA twice and I wasn’t really training full-time, I got beat in both years so I sat down and spoke to my Dad – Mitch was pro at the time – and I said “I’ll either take this seriously or forget about boxing”, I was either going to go in the army or take it on professionally and I’m glad I didn’t choose the army, I’ll tell you that!
Absolutely, how helpful was that amateur experience?
I think it’s good to have that pedigree purely because you’ve been about the game for a longer time, you know how it works, you’ve learnt the basics and you’ve learnt about other fighters. Don’t get me wrong it’s completely different to being professional but it’s good to have the background purely because it’s just extra experience.
Obviously we’re in the summer break from boxing, how do you stay busy? Are you still in the gym constantly?
I try to keep in the gym as much as I can, it is difficult because I’m not promoted by a big promoter and I’ve got to sell tickets, get sponsorships, I do still have to work so if I’m not in the gym, I will always run, I will always stay fit and keep my weight at a good level.
I don’t really blow up out of camp and go really heavy, I’m quite professional.
You announced a sponsor today so how much does that help?
Basically I’ve started working with Portobello PR who will be managing my exposure and will be managing my exposure and sponsors. They found that sponsor (BTR Podcast) and hopefully with them on board it will become a lot easier for me to train instead of working all the time.
I’m under no illusions, I will still have to work but if it means I can cut down my hours then obviously that will help, it is difficult at this stage where I’m ready for the titles but I’m not earning enough to afford to be able to stop working.
If you don’t mind me asking, what is your job?
I’m doing plumbing at the moment.
Is it easy to turn off from the boxing mind-set when you are plumbing then?
I’m always focussed on my boxing whether I’m working or not because it’s always in my mind, I want to do it full time and make a career out of it but obviously I need to be able to keep focussed at work to earn a living but it is so difficult. Only people who are not full time professionals will really understand but I know my potential if I was full-time boxing as opposed to where I’m at now and I still think I’m at that level where I should be fighting for titles. Hopefully Mo (Prior) can provide the goods and get me a title shot for September.
Talking of titles you were meant to fight for the Southern Area belt in June, how frustrating was it to hear that he’d pulled out?
Very frustrating, very frustrating, I’ve been waiting for my shot for a while now and I’ve fought a fair few journeyman. I had a good fight with Macaulay McGowan two years ago in 2016 and he was unbeaten fighter and I thought I’d have got more recognition after that fight, on TV on one of Frank (Warren)’s small shows and I thought I would have got more from that fight after the draw because it was a cracking scrap but nothing came about so I had to go back to the drawing board and I’m where I am now so hopefully I can start fighting for titles.
It was very frustrating with Louis Greene because I’d built back up to fighting for the Southern Area belt and he gave me that opportunity, he picked me as a voluntary defence and it was incredibly frustrating when I got the call because I was in good form, my weight was spot on, I’d got some good sparring and I was really looking forward to the fight.
Are you at the point, now, where you’d rather fight less but in more meaningful bouts or keep busy until those big fights come along?
That’s a tough one, to be fair, the thing is I wouldn’t mind being more active – I’d be very happy with that – but being on small hall shows you need to sell tickets and I’m at that stage where I’m not learning anything off these journeyman, they are just punch-bags. Not in a rude way but I would like better opponents so that the fans can see a better Jez Smith, fighting journeyman keeps me at the same level and you can’t see my full potential because, arguably, I drop down to their level at times.
I wouldn’t mind being active but I’m happy to wait and stay focused, stay professional, stay fit, I can learn more in sparring than I do fighting journeyman.
I actually remember watching your fight with McGowan, I thought you edged it, does it irritate you that you’ve not been able to kick on?
Oh massively Ollie, after that fight I thought that even the rematch would have been good because I had stepped up in weight for that fight so I wasn’t at my weight but I thought Frank would have used me a bit more but I didn’t get anything back.
I think things happen for a reason so it probably wasn’t my time but I believe, even though I had the hiccup with the Southern Area title, it is definitely my time now to kick on and start moving on.
Are you set on the Southern Area for now or if something like the WBO European or one of those titles came up, would you take it?
Listen, I’m a fighter, I’ll fight anyone and it doesn’t matter what route I go, I just want titles and I want to fight anyone who wants to fight and I’ll give it a good go. I’m not bothered what route, just get me the belts, get me in good fights with decent money.
Are you next out in September on the British Warriors show?
Yeah, September 29th at York Hall – what I’ve been told.
You do bring a fair few fans with you, does that add any extra pressure?
Nah not extra pressure, I like fighting in front of a lot of people and I’m only in small shows but I like having a lot of my fans there and, in general, a decent crowd because you get a good atmosphere and I thrive off that so I feel my performances get better as the crowd gets more excited. I look forward to when, one day, I’m in a big arena or somewhere like that.
Would you prefer to fight in an electric small hall or a big arena but with a relatively small crowd?
It don’t bother me as much, I want to be in the big shows and I’ll fight anywhere but it’s nice to be able to say that I’d have boxed at the O2, at Wembley because at the moment I’ve only been at York Hall, Camden and Harrow so I’ve only been on small shows so it would be nice to fight on a big card, in a big arena, but listen as long as I’m fighting in good fights, winning, I’m happy.
Biggest learning fight – Macaulay McGowan?
Without a doubt I learnt an awful lot from that fight, especially in being a professional, because like when I was a senior and I wasn’t taking it too seriously, this camp was probably the worst I’d ever had, I wasn’t eating the right food, I didn’t know what the right diet was and nothing was clicking. It was a massive wake-up call because I was stepping up in weight so I was just eating anything, not the right thing, so I’d put the weight on and if you’re driving a car, you wouldn’t put diesel in a petrol engine and that camp showed me it applies to boxing too, if you don’t diet right then you won’t perform even if you train to perfection.
Against an unbeaten fighter we both wanted it but I faded quite quickly although that proved to me and a lot of people that I could dig deep and against the journeyman beforehand it’s always hard to gauge where you’re actually at – even though you might think you know – so against an unbeaten fighter you can measure yourself up and it showed me I had it, I ticked a few boxes, I got a lot of heart, I can fight and I can dig deep.
I know it was a draw but did it, in a way, feel better than one of those wins against journeyman because of how much you learned?
Yeah I guess so, to be fair, gutted as I was that it was a draw I’ve got to think “it wasn’t a loss” and I haven’t lost yet. I took a lot from it, if I won I probably wouldn’t have taken as much as if it was a draw because I wouldn’t have changed anything and I wouldn’t have learnt so later on in my career I could have got caught out and I’m proving that now.
If you don’t mind I want to talk to you about Conor Benn, you were meant to fight Cedrick Peynaud, right?
The plan was, my manager asked his manager for the fight, and I got told he was up for it and a few days later I got called saying he didn’t want it anymore and I’m guessing he probably got paid a lot more for the rematch with Conor.
I could be wrong but I was told he got £8,000 for the first fight so make your own mind up but would you want a fight with Conor?
It’s a fight I would love, Ollie, if I got a call now and said “do you want the fight?”, I would jump right in, I believe I’m better than him, I’m stronger him, a better all-round fighter and I’ve got no disrespect for him, he’s doing well for himself, fighting on big Matchroom cards, getting TV but I just think I’m better than him and I want to fight good British fighters, he’s one of them!
And he’s a name, obviously, his dad was a hell of a fighter and it’s a fighter I really want and I think a lot of unbeaten Brits would want that fight. I want to see him step up a bit, too, that Peynaud fight, he should have beaten him comprehensively the first time round and if I’m hitting with the shots that Peynaud hit him with then he’s not getting back up.
There’s levels and I think I’m levels above him.
How much does being mentally strong impact on fight night?
Hugely, even when you’re in camp, doing the weight, training, mentally you’ve got to be strong to stay committed to eat properly, cut the weight. 100% important.
Do you find making weight easy?
I don’t find it too bad, I do it properly so I give myself eight weeks and I eat clean, I don’t cut massively and I do 10st 7lbs, 147lbs, quite easy. Good enough without being crazy.
Is there potential for you to go up a weight division in your career?
There was actually talk of me moving down so I don’t know about moving up because I hold my power and speed at welter so it’s definitely a possibility in the future but I’m very happy for now. I want to test myself first before making that decision, I think I’m at a good category for now.
In one year, in terms of titles, where would you like to be?
I’d like to be knocking on the door of British title, I just want to fight the best and whoever is in front of me and holding the titles then I’ll have to fight them.
I know you’re young so I don’t want to get you to think about retirement just yet but when you do hang up the gloves would you want to stay in the game?
No doubt, 100%, I’d like to start training people myself, I’d like to pick up a fair bit of knowledge whilst I’m fighting and you never stop learning so why not pass it on to some young kids in the game, I’d love that.
I’ll end on something random mate, if you were a crisp what flavour would you be?
Bloody hell… prawn cocktail, I reckon.
I thought smoky bacon!
SMOKY BACON? Nah, prawn cocktail because it’s my favourite because it’s my favourite, come up with a fancy reason for me Ollie when you write it.
Pressure’s on now for me to come up with a fancy reason, let’s just say it’s because Jez is sizzling in the ring… a bit like prawn cocktails if you get them on your lips for too long! In all seriousness though it was an absolute pleasure to speak to Jez and I’ve got no doubt he’s on his way to big things in this industry so jump on the bandwagon now because it’s going to be one hell of a ride.
HBO Boxing Preview: Machado vs. Mensah, Munguia vs. Smith
By: William Holmes
On Saturday Night the Hard Rock Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada will host a two world title fights to be televised on HBO.
Golden Boy Promotions is the lead promoter for this card which will feature a WBO Junior Middleweight Title Fight between Jaime Munguia and Liam Smith. The co-feature of the night will be between Alberto Macahdo and Rafael Mensah for the WBA Regular Junior Lightweight Title.
Photo Credit: Tom Hogan – Hogan Photos/Golden Boy Promotions
Munguia has gained some prominence with his resounding victory over Sadam Ali to capture his first world title and was mentioned as a possible replacement opponent for Gennady Golovkin when the rematch between him and Canelo had to be rescheduled.
The following is a preview of both world title fights.
Alberto Machado (19-0) vs. Rafael Mensah (31-0); WBA Regular Junior Lightweight Title
Alberto Machado is a champion who just won his title with a mild upset over Jezreel Corrales by knockout in his last fight. He’s 27 years old and has a very large reach of 72” for his weight class.
His opponent, Rafael Mensah, fights out of Ghana and not much is known about him except for his record. He’s never fought outside of Ghana but is the number one contender for the WBA Title.
Macahdo has been very active recently and fought three times in 2017 and four times in 2016. Mensah has also been active and fought three times in 2017 and twice in 2016, but his last two opponents that he beat had losing records.
Win two fights against below .500 opponents gets you a title shot in the WBA.
Machado had moderate success as an amateur and was a National Champion at the Junior Olympics. Mensah has no notable amateur accomplishments.
Machado has defeated the likes of Carlos Morales, Jezreel Corrales, Juan Jose Martinez, and Miguel Mendoza.
Mensah has defeated nobody of note, but opponents with good records that he has defeated include Fatiou Fassinou and Abdul Jabir.
Macahdo hasn’t been taking Mensah lightly. He stated at a recent press conference,” Rafael is the Number 1 contender for a reason. I’ve got great training at the Wild Card Boxing Club where everyone is very strong. I thank Freddie Roach for focusing on me for the past several weeks. I’m going back to Puerto Rico a world champion.”
Machado probably could probably take the unproven Mensah lightly and still be a heavy favorite.
Jaime Munguia (29-0) vs. Liam Smith (26-1-1); WBO Junior Middleweight Title
Liam Smith was originally scheduled to face Sadam Ali for the WBO Junior Middleweight Title, but had to pull out and was replaced by Jaime Munguia, who won the title with a dominating TKO victory.
On Saturday they will face each other for that WBO Title.
Munguia has twenty five stoppage wins on his record and will have about a two and a half inch height advantage over Smith. Smith has fourteen stoppage wins on his record.
However, Munguia has six stoppage wins in a row. He is also only twenty one years old and eight years younger than Smith.
Even though Munguia has advantages in power and height, he is not taking Smith lightly. He recently stated, “Liam Smith is a tough fighter. We know what kind of style he has. He’s the type of fighter who will come forward and throw a lot of punches. He has an advantage because he’s been in big fights before. But I have a lot of experience as well. I’ve had over a hundred amateur fights and I have fought all over Mexico. We also know what style he will bring. Smith is the kind of fighter who will stand in front of you with a high guard and then suddenly throw a lot of punches. We both come forward and we both throw a lot of punches, so there is a high possibility that this fight will end in a knockout. If we don’t get the knockout, I’m prepared to go the 12 rounds. This has been the best camp of life. I am very prepared. My sparring has gone well. I feel great and I will show that on Saturday. Don’t miss this big fight!”
Smith looks ready for the challenge. He stated,” I was kept in the mandatory position and now I’ve got my shot against a good champion. It should be an exciting fight. He’s an exciting combatant who comes to fight. He’s young and he’s hungry. But you know me. I’m not going to come here and lie down. It’s not the Jaime Munguia show for me. I’m here to do my job. I’m here to do what I set out to do and get my title back.”
Munguia has defeated the likes of Sadam Ali, Johnny Navarrete, Uriel Gonzalez, and Juan Macias Montiel. He has fought three times in 2018 already and fought seven times in 2017!!
Munguia was a national gold medalist as an amateur and turned pro at the age of 16.
Smith fought three times in 2017 and his lone loss was to Saul Alvarez. He has defeated the likes of Liam Williams, Predgrag Radosevic, Jimmy Kelly, and John Thompson. He was an English ABA National Champion as an amateur.
Smith’s stoppage loss to Canelo should be concerning for his fans, as Munguia is also known for being a strong puncher. Munguia activity as a boxer is rare in today’s age and that should be helpful for him on Saturday.
The hype of Munguia has slowly been gaining steam, and this writer expects it to pick up more steam with a resounding win on Saturday.
Boxing Insider Notebook: Prograis, DeGale, Beltran, Briedis, Smith, and more…
Compiled By: William Holmes
The following is the Boxing Insider notebook for the week of June 26th to July 4th; covering the comings and goings in the sport of boxing that you might have missed.
Briedis Faces Deslaurier on Usyk-Gassiev Undercard
Mairis Briedis, Ali Trophy Final Cruiserweight Substitute Fighter, meets Brandon Deslaurier, on the Usyk-Gassiev undercard July 21 at the Olimpiyskiy Arena in Moscow, Russia.
“I can’t wait to fight again,” said Briedis (23-1, 18 KOs). “I’m looking forward to a quality World Boxing Super Series event and I am sure that the 21st of July will make a great night of boxing for the fans in Moscow and all over the world.”
The former WBC World Champion won his quarter-final in the quest for the Muhammad Ali Trophy against Mike Perez by unanimous decision and continued to face top-seed Usyk.
The Latvian sports hero did not fail to impress in a ‘Fight Of The Year’-contender as the semi-final was dubbed.
Briedis was defeated in a close and thrilling contest and gave what Usyk called; ‘the toughest fight of my career.’
The 33-year-old will be on standby to enter the final in Moscow in the unlikely scenario of one of the original participants being unable to compete.
In his fight on the Moscow undercard, Briedis is up against France’s Brandon Deslaurier (11-1-1, 1 KO).
“I’m very excited to come to Russia and compete against a world class fighter like Mairis Briedis. But people must not underestimate me. I am coming to Russia to win and beat Mairis Briedis,” said Deslaurier.
Everything is on the line for Aleksandr Usyk and Murat Gassiev in the Ali Trophy Cruiserweight Final in Moscow: The winner in Moscow on July 21 will be the first one ever to take home the Muhammad Ali Trophy. The first cruiserweight ever to unify the titles in the four-belt era. The winner will also add RING Magazine’s vacant cruiserweight championship belt.
Prograis and Velasco Competing for Place in Ali Trophy Tournament
The winner of WBC Interim World Champion Regis Prograis vs top challenger Juan Jose Velasco on July 14 will enter the 140lb edition of the second season of the World Boxing Super Series.
29-year-old Prograis (21-0, 18 KOs), the Houston resident who relocated from New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, won the WBC Interim 140-pound World Championship in March after a sensational second round TKO-victory over former titleholder Julius Indongo from Namibia.
“My biggest asset is my hunger to be the best. I have a chip on my shoulder and I want to prove to everybody I am the best at 140 lbs,” said Prograis.
The undefeated southpaw, known for his fan-friendly style inspired by idols such as Roberto Duran and Pernell Whitaker, is confident that he will enter the tournament.
“I’m definitely excited to enter into the tournament. This is great for boxing. The best fighting the best.”
31-year-old Velasco (20-0, 12 KOs), from Buenos Aires, Argentina, will challenge the Interim WBC World Super Lightweight Champion in Prograis’ birthplace of New Orleans, Louisiana on July 14. Velasco already sees himself as an Ali Trophy participant:
“It’s a great honour and I look forward to competing for the Muhammad Ali Trophy and winning the whole thing. I think the format is set up well,” said Velasco, also known as ‘El Pitbull’. “The best fight the best in the World Boxing Super Series to determine one champ. Great!”
Said Kalle Sauerland, Comosa’s Chief Boxing Officer: “Prograis is an exciting athlete capable of catapulting his status to new heights of sporting glory in the Ali Trophy tournament. He is facing Velasco, a tough challenger. We are sure of one thing: another belt will enter the Ali Trophy tournament!”
Three weight classes will feature in Season II of the World Boxing Super Series with two categories, Bantamweight and Super Lightweight, already announced.
DeGale Vacates IBF Title
Two-Time IBF World Super-Middleweight Champion James DeGale MBE has today relinquished his title as he closes in on securing big-fights in the final phase of his illustrious ring career.
DeGale, a former British and European Champion, has ruled the 168 pound division split over two reigns as World Champion totalling almost three years and has been involved in six IBF World Championship contests.
The Londoner is proud to have held the organisation’s prestigious and famous red and gold World Title belt that has been worn by many of the great fighters at the weight including legends Joe Calzaghe and Roy Jones Jnr.
DeGale began his first reign as IBF World Champion in May 2015 by making history to become Britain’s first ever Olympic Champion to win a world title when he sensationally defeated Andre Dirrell in Boston to claim the vacant belt.
The trail-blazing Londoner then continued his campaign across the Atlantic to gain respect from the media and fans’ as he made the first successful defence of the title against former IBF World Champion Lucian Bute in Canada in November that year.
In April 2016, DeGale returned to the U.S to make the second defence of the title against tough Mexican Rogelio Medina in Washington which he won on a majority decision.
DeGale then aimed to solidify his dominance of the 168 pound division by attempting to unify his IBF title against WBC World Champion Badou Jack in January 2017 in Brooklyn, New York. In an electrifying, all-action fight, DeGale retained his title by way of controversial draw that many felt DeGale had won.
A British homecoming world title defence against American Caleb Truax in December 2017 was ruined after DeGale lost his title on a points decision in a below par performance. He later admitted it was because he returned to the ring too soon after having career saving surgery to his shoulder following the Jack fight.
However, DeGale proved his champion’s heart by facing Truax in his backyard for the rematch in April this year in Las Vegas when he reclaimed the title with a dominant display to win clearly on the judges’ scorecards.
DeGale was due to be involved in a purse bid for his IBF mandated title defence against Interim Champion Jose Uzcategui this Thursday (5th July), but has now withdrawn.
DeGale said, “No World champion easily gives up their World title that they’ve earned the hard way in the ring and I’ve proudly held the IBF World title in two reigns with pride and distinction which is why it makes it very hard decision to relinquish the belt. It has been a pleasure to work with the IBF and I would like to thank president Daryl Peoples for allowing me to challenge and hold the distinguished belt that so many of the division’s great champions have held before for me. It has been a honour to be recognised as the IBF World Champion and I hope that by now vacating it will ease the transition to determine a successor between the Interim champion Jose Uzcategui and the next highly ranked available contender. I’ve achieved so much in my career, Olympic Gold, British, European and International titles and two-time World Champion and I believe I’m at the top of my game right now. I’m in the final phase of my career where I have a few good years left where I can be involved in massive fights and really leave a legacy in the division’s history. My team have been working very hard behind the scenes and we’ve got some very big and exciting news to announce soon.”
WBO News: Top Rank Wins the Beltran-Andreev Purse Bid
This afternoon, at the World Boxing Organization (WBO) headquarters in Puerto Rico, the purse bid for the mandatory fight between WBO Lightweight World Champion Raymundo Beltrán (35-7-1 , 21 KOs), from Mexico, and first-ranked Roman Andreev (21-0, 15 KOs), from Russia.
Top Rank won the rights for the fight with a successful bid of $ 252,000. Top Rank Vice President Carl Moretti, personally presented the winning bid. The fight is scheduled for Saturday, August 25 in Phoenix, Arizona.
The OMB exhorted both Top Rank and other promoters to submit their boxers to doping controls, not only immediately prior to and after the title fights, but throughout the entire training phase of both combatants.
Joe Smith Jr. Returns with Devastating KO at Mohegan Sun
Returning to the ring after an 11-month layoff due to a broken jaw, Joe “The Beast” Smith, Jr. provided early fireworks last night (Saturday, June 30) in the latest installment in the popular “Slugfest at The Sun” series, presented by Joe DeGuardia’s Star Boxing, at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut.
“Slugfest at The Sun” was taped live and will air July 19, 8 -10 p.m. ET, on New England Sports Network (NESN). Star Boxing’s next event, “Rockin’ Fights”, September 21 at the Paramount in Huntington, NY, will also air via tape- delay on NESN.
Rated No. 3 and No. 7 in the world, respectively, by the World Boxing Council (WBC) and World Boxing Association (WBA), Smith (24-2, 20 KOs) hurt Melvin “The Romantic Redneck” Russell (11-5-2, 7 KOs) with the first punch he landed and finished the show, two devastating knockdowns later, in the opening round.
“I hit him with a decent shot when I was walking him down and saw that I hurt him,” Joe Smith Jr. explained. “So, I looked to end it. I would have liked to have gotten some rust off, but I’m happy with my performance. My jaw feels great.”
“We’re looking to go to the top,” Smith’s promoter Joe DeGuardia stated. “Joe’s plan and goal has always been to be world champion. We wanted (Sergey) Kovalev before this fight, but it didn’t work out. We’re hoping to get him in the fall.”
“Kovalev looks great, he motivates me,” Smith noted. “I think I can take advantage of his conditioning.”
Coming off her historic fight this past May against the undefeated Queen of Boxing Cecelia Breakhus, who won a 10-round decision in the first female fight to air on HBO, three-time world champion Kali “KO Mequinonoag” Reis (14-7-1, 4 KOs) cruised past Mexican welterweight Patty “Las Elegante” Ramirez (11-6, 5 KOs), a former world title challenger, winning all eight rounds.
“She was a survivor,” Reis commented. “There was a lot we wanted to work on, body shots, jabs and more … getting more comfortable. I executed the plan my corner gave me and got the job done.
A Native American from Rhode Island, Reis wants a rematch with Breakhus, “I know I need to stay busy, active and remain fighting at welterweight to get the rematch,” Reis added. “I’m going to stay on her tail. I’ll be ready when it happens, I really want it to happen.”
In the television opener, undefeated junior welterweight “Action” Anthony Laureano (8-0 3KO’s) lived up to his nickname, never taking a backwards step, as he pounded Juan Rodriguez (8-10-1 6KO’s) in the center of the ring from the opening bell through the end for a dominant six-round unanimous decision. The 2016 New England Golden Gloves champion Laureano, who fights out East Hartford, CT, put on an entertaining show in front of his large, loud contingent of fans. Laureano effectively used every punch in his vast arsenal to break down a tough, game Rodriguez.
“I thought I did well,” Laureano said after the fight, “but I’d like to see more angles. I want to see more power, too. It’s there, he felt it; it’s coming. I have a long road. Next fight, I’d like to have an eight-rounder. We’re adding more people to the team. I hope everyone see that I’m getting better each fight. I have more tools and my discipline is there.”
Undefeated junior middleweight Wendy “Haitian Fire” Toussaint (9-0, 3 KOs) lit up an overwhelmed Andy Gonzalez (6-3, 5 KOs), battering him from pillar to post, until referee Steve Willis waved off the fight in the third round. Haiti-native Toussaint, now living in Huntington, NY, used his superior power and speed to make an impressive statement.
Popular South Boston southpaw Joe Farina (3-0, 2 KOs) overcame a flash knockdown during the opening seconds of the fight, using a relentless attack to defeat junior welterweight Steve Moore (1-4, 1 KO), by way of a four-round split decision.
Irish junior welterweight “Lethal” Larry Fryers (formerly known as Gleeson) improved his record to 7-1 (2 KOs) with a six-round unanimous decision over Anthony Woods (1-7-1). Fighting out of Yonkers NY, Fryers floored Woods with a left hook at the end of round two. Woods was penalized a point near the end of the final round for an intentional head butt.
Former U. of New Haven basketball star Cassius Chaney (13-0, 7 KOs), fighting out of New London (CT), kept his undefeated record intact, dropping Mexican heavyweight Elder Hernandez (5-3, 3 KOs) twice before referee Willis halted the match near the end of the opening round.
The opening bout of the evening ended in the second round and ruled a “No Contest” because of an accidental head butt that left both fighters — William “The Silent Assassin” Foster III (8-0, 6 KOs) and Tyrome Jones (4-3-1, 1 KO) – with serious head cuts and unable to continue.
Boxing Insider Notebook: Trout, Shields, Lee, Hammer, Fury, Smith, and more…
Compiled By: William Holmes
The following is the Boxing Insider notebook for the week of May 29th to June 5th; covering the comings and goings in the sport of boxing that you might have missed.
Photo Credit: Austin Trout Twitter Account/Chris Farina
Austin Trout Training Camp Notes
Austin Trout (31-4, 17 KOs), the former super welterweight world champion, is headed to Los Angeles today to meet current WBC Super Welterweight world champion Jermell Charlo inside the ring this Saturday, June 9 live on SHOWTIME from STAPLES Center in Los Angeles in an event presented by Premier Boxing Champions.
The SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING telecast begins at 10 p.m. ET/PT and is headlined by the featherweight world championship rematch between Leo Santa Cruz and Abner Mares.
In Trout’s words, this fight is finishing the mission. Spiritually centered and in his prime physical condition, it is, in his own words, his time.
“People are underestimating me and overlooking me,” said Trout. “I earned and continue to earn respect in this sport and my competition can choose to ignore it or acknowledge it. I’ve beaten champions and taken titles. I’ve lost in controversial decisions to champions like Canelo. This is my time. Don’t underestimate the power I bring to boxing as well as the international competitors I’ve already stepped into the ring against and beaten.”
After his October fight against Jarrett Hurd and February’s unanimous decision victory over Juan De Angel, this WBC title bout, in Trout’s words, is the fight that no one saw coming.
“The Hurd fight was the danger fight,” he said of his October 2017 match. “It was part of the process of knocking out the ring rust, and De Angel was part of that as well. Everything I do or don’t do is circumstantial. Because of the layoffs, it’s been challenging; now I’m back on track timing wise and I plan on changing boxing’s plans for me. I’m not sitting back and waiting.
“I started boxing as a kid to stand up for people that were being disrespected, and as an adult I continue to do that in the ring.”
A long time top ten and former #2 in the 154-pound division by Ring magazine, Trout will be once against be working with D.C. based world champion trainer Barry Hunter, to whom his longtime cornerman, Louie Burke, worked as an assistant.
“We are calling this fight ‘finishing the mission.’ I’m squarely in a dangerous division that’s full of talent. It’s one of the top divisions in my opinion. Everyone’s a killer including myself. It has the perfect balance of speed and power. This is where I excel, plus I have the brain.”
Showtime to Live Stream Tyson Fury Return
SHOWTIME Sports has secured the U.S. rights to stream the long-awaited return of former heavyweight world champion Tyson Fury, who will face Sefer Seferi in a 10-round heavyweight bout Saturday, June 9 from Manchester Arena. SHOWTIME BOXING INTERNATIONAL® will stream live exclusively to U.S. audiences on the SHOWTIME Boxing Facebook page and SHOWTIME Sports YouTube Channel beginning at 4:30 p.m. ET/1:30 p.m. PT.
In the opening bout, local hero Terry Flanagan (33-0, 13 KO’s) will look to become a two-division world champion when he clashes with unbeaten American Maurice Hooker (23-0-3, 16 KO’s) for the vacant WBO Junior Welterweight crown. This will be the fourth live streaming boxing event this year on SHOWTIME Sports social media platforms.
Live coverage for the Frank Warren promoted event will be provided by BT Sport and BoxNation with U.K. sportscasters John Rawling providing the blow-by-blow and Richie Woodhall the analysis. Boxing broadcaster Ray Flores and analyst Chris Mannix will deliver pre-fight and post-fight analysis from Staples Center in Los Angeles for the SHOWTIME Sports audience.
The live stream of Fury vs. Seferi will precede that evening’s SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING® doubleheader that features WBA Featherweight World Champion Leo Santa Cruz in a rematch against fellow three-division world champion Abner Mares live on SHOWTIME (10 p.m. ET/PT, delayed in the West Coast) from Staples Center. In the co-feature, Jermell Charlo will face Austin Trout for the WBC Super Welterweight World Championship.
Fury (25-0, 18 KOs), a former WBA, WBO and IBF Heavyweight World Champion will end a two-years-and-seven-months exile from the sport on June 9. Fury has been inactive since outpointing Wladimir Klitschko in Dusseldorf in November 2015 due to an injury, personal problems and a doping ban.
“I’m the fittest I’ve ever been,” said Fury, who has teamed up with new trainer Ben Davison. “Timing, reflexes, everything is better than it’s ever been. I kid you not. I’m 29 years old, coming into the prime of my life, I’m stronger and faster, holding more muscle mass than ever. I’m more confident looking at the competition.”
Albania’s Seferi (23-1, 21 KOs) is a 39-year-old Switzerland-based cruiserweight who is stepping up in weight and opposition when he faces the 6-foot-9 Fury. Seferi’s sole loss came in 2016 in a heavyweight bout against now-secondary WBA heavyweight champ Manuel Charr.
“This is going to be a hard fight for Fury,” said Seferi. “Two-and-a-half years out of the ring is a long time and nobody knows if he is still the same fighter that dethroned Wladimir Klitschko.”
Flanagan, the first Englishman to earn a lightweight world title, will seek to capture a title in a second weight class just days away from his 29th birthday. Hooker, a southpaw from Dallas, Texas and ShoBox alum, has been training with Terence Crawford. Hooker will look to follow in the footsteps of fellow Dallas resident Errol Spence Jr., who went to Kell Brook’s hometown of Sheffield, England to capture his first world championship.
Christina Hammer vs. Tori Nelson Added to June 22nd Claressa Shields Card
The women’s middleweight world championship between unified WBC and WBO titlist Christina Hammer and former world champion Tori Nelson has been added to the June 22 SHOWTIME telecast from Masonic Temple in Detroit.
In the main event, two-time Olympic Gold Medalist and unified 168-pound champion Claressa Shields will attempt to become a two-division champion when she faces unified 154-pound titleholder Hanna Gabriels for the vacant IBF and WBA Middleweight World Championships.
With the addition of Hammer vs. Nelson to the June 22 SHOWTIME BOXING: SPECIAL EDITION (10 p.m. ET/PT) telecast, all four women’s middleweight world titles will be at stake in separate bouts featuring two of the consensus top 10 pound-for-pound women in the world.
The winners of Shields vs. Gabriels and Hammer vs. Nelson will meet this fall on SHOWTIME to determine the undisputed women’s middleweight world champion.
Hammer (22-0, 10 KOs), of Dortmund, Germany, has dominated the women’s middleweight division for nearly eight years, losing just a handful of rounds in her reign as champion at 160 pounds. The 27-year-old, who will make her U.S. debut on June 22, won the WBO title in 2010 then became unified champion in 2016 with a win over defending WBC champion Kali Reis.
Nelson (17-1-3, 2 KOs) won a middleweight world championship in 2011 and owns wins over previously unbeaten Alicia Napoleon, Mia St. John, and Reis, who recently floored women’s welterweight champion Cecilia Braekhus. The native of Ashburn, Va., suffered her first loss in a spirited decision to Shields this January on SHOWTIME in what was the toughest test of Shields’ young career.
“Now that I’m added to the TV portion of the card it gives me even more motivation to prove to the U.S. audience that I’m the best female fighter in the world,” Hammer said. “My plan is to do something that Claressa Shields couldn’t do – knock out Tori Nelson. Once I take care of business with Nelson, my goal is to fight the winner of Shields vs. Gabriels to become the undisputed women’s middleweight world champion.”
“Christina Hammer can’t bring anything I haven’t seen before,” Nelson said. “I’ve beaten Kali Reis, Mia St. John, Alicia Napoleon. I went the distance with Claressa Shields and I plan on beating Hammer on June 22 to earn my shot at revenge against Shields. This is my chance and I don’t plan to let it slip away.”
“Adding Hammer vs. Nelson to the card was the right move as we collectively work to elevate the status of women’s boxing at the highest level,” said Gordon Hall, Executive Producer of SHOWTIME BOXING: SPECIAL EDITION. “The June 22 telecast now features two of the best pound-for-pound female fighters – Claressa Shields and Christina Hammer – in what will be our eighth presentation of women’s boxing since 2016. All four of the world titles in the women’s middleweight division are at stake on June 22 with the goal of the winners meeting this fall to determine an undisputed middleweight champion.”
“I am honored to promote this historic night of boxing on SHOWTIME in the championship city of Detroit,” said promoter Dmitriy Salita. “I believe these fights are in line with the best and most competitive matchups in the history of women’s boxing. All four of these fighters are coming from different parts of the globe to win a world title and show they are the best. It will be an exciting and explosive night of boxing from beginning to end for the fans attending the fight at the Detroit Masonic Temple and for those watching the fight live on SHOWTIME.”
Joe Smith Jr. to Face Melvin Russell on June 30th
JOE SMITH JR. (23-2 18KO’s) makes his much anticipated return to the ring on June 30th at Mohegan Sun Arena, in Uncasville, Connecticut. STAR BOXING’S “SLUGFEST at the SUN” is set to be one of boxing’s best cards thus far in 2018.
Already announced as the co-feature bout, highlights Rhode Island Native American warrior, KALI REIS (13-7-1 4KO’s) pitted against Hungarian , SZLIVIA SZABADOS (17-11 8KO’s). Kali is coming off of a historic power punching performance against undisputed champion Cecilia Braekhus, in the first female bout featured on HBO. Kali thrilled fans around the world in that fight, and promises the same action at Mohegan Sun on June 30th.
As a union laborer for Local 66 on Long Island, JOE SMITH JR. earned the title of the peoples champion when he burst onto the boxing scene in 2016. Working with a sledgehammer by day, and training by night, Smith Jr. defines hard work and determination.
The rise of Smith Jr. began when he took on, top rated light heavyweight, ANDRZEJ FONFARA on NBC in Chicago. As a 20-1 underdog, Smith Jr. destroyed Fonfara in the first round, knocking down the mighty Pole twice, before the referee called a stop to the onslaught. Later that year, Smith Jr. knocked legend, BERNARD HOPKINS on HBO, clear out of the ring, becoming the first person to ever KO the former multi-division world champion.
In the main event of Star Boxing’s “SLUGFEST at the SUN,” “THE BEAST” JOE SMITH JR. will be facing Kentucky’s MELVIN RUSSELL (11-4-2 7KO’S). The tough Kentuckian, who goes by the moniker “The Romantic Redneck,” has been in all out brawls with undefeated prospect Mike Wilson (then, 17-0 8KO’s) and world-title challenger Edwin Rodriguez (then, 28-2 20KO’s). Russell has proven the ability to go deep into fights, while still using a come forward offense. Fighting behind his jab, Russell will look to keep his distance from “THE BEAST” Joe Smith Jr., attempting to avoid his devastating power.
Smith Jr. returns to the ring after an eleven month layoff due to a broken jaw suffered in the second-round of his HBO fight against Sullivan Barrera last July. Smith Jr. said this about his June 30th return, “I am as confident and stronger than ever. I am ready to reclaim my position as one of the best light heavyweights in the world. Thank you all for the love and support over the past few years. I am ready to show the boxing world why I am the beast from the east.”
Star Boxing CEO, JOE DEGUARDIA, had this to say about June 30th, “Everyone in boxing has been anticipating the return of the “Common Man,” Joe Smith Jr.. He truly became the champion of the people, and is ready to get back in the ring on June 30th, to reclaim his position on top of the light heavyweight division.”
Mike Lee Inching Closer to Title Shot
There might not be a more well-rounded fighter on the planet.
Mike Lee (20-0, 11 KOs), who takes on Jose Hernandez (19-3-1, 9 KOs) this Friday night for the WBO Junior World Light Heavyweight World Title at The Allstate Arena in Chicago, brings all the intangibles that one would want in a professional athlete.
The card will be broadcast live on CBS Spots Network (9 PM ET) with an all-star announce team of International Boxing Hall of Famer Barry Tompkins and renowned Teddy Atlas.
Lee has not taken the route that most fighters take to get to the door of competing for a world title.
There isn’t the big name promoter. In fact there is no promoter at all. In a day when most fighters are afraid to test themselves, Lee’s last five opponents (Including Hernandez) have a combined record of 78-10-5.
Does Lee, take a vacation or just relax between fight? No he doesn’t, you have just as much chance to see Lee talking to major corporations or being a national spokesperson for a major company as you do as seeing him raising money for cancer stricken children.
Lee also brings a heart and determination into the ring as he battled and overcame autoimmune disease.
“Training camp in Los Angeles has been great. We had a good camp, I am 20-0 for a reason,” said Lee.
“I am not looking past Hernandez, but my dream is to win a a world championship one day. June 8th is a step towards that. I have everything in my body and mind towards that, and when I am determined, I am very difficult to beat.”
When Lee talks about what motivated to speak to companies around the country, it was that illness that almost derailed his career that came to mind.
“My career was almost taken away with autoimmune disease, and I wanted to tell my story. I have been lucky to speak to people and give techniques of visualization and mindset.”
“I am excited to fight in my hometown with a great crowd. I love fighting in a bigger venue which is a phenomenal arena. I have waited for this moment, and I can’t wait for Friday night.”
When WBO number-3 ranked light heavyweight contender Mike Lee (20-0, 11 KOs) takes on Jose Hernandez (19-3-1, 9 KOs) this Friday night at The Allstate Arena in Chicago. The card will be broadcast live on CBS Spots Network (9 PM ET) with an all-star announce team of International Boxing Hall of Famer Barry Tompkins and renowned Teddy Atlas.
PBC on Bounce TV Results: Tony Harrison Decisions Ishe Smith, Tabiti KO’s Kayode
By: Bryant Romero
Tony Harrison got a much needed victory to build some momentum in his career as he scored a clear but somehow only a split verdict over the game but outgunned Ishe Smith at the Sam’s Town Hotel in Las Vegas on Friday night. Harrison (27-2, 21 KOs) used his superior size, reach, and punching power to offset the very durable and always tough Ishe Smith as Harrison displayed his jab throughout the fight.
Photo Credit: Chris Farina/Mayweather Promotions
The change in momentum of the fight was in the third round as Harrison scored a knockdown with a clean overhand right that buckled and dropped the former champion. The 27-year-old got the confidence boost he needed as he seemed to run away with the bout thereafter. He hurt Smith on multiple occasions throughout the fight and seemed to be on verge of a stoppage win in some of the later stanzas.
Smith who dropped to (29-10, 12 KOs) with the defeat, showed tremendous toughness by be able to last the distance. However, he had trouble with the length and range of the younger challenger and was limited to only spurts of success has he tried all night to get inside of Harrison’s reach and land devastating punches. Despite getting dropped and stunned in the contest on multiple occasions, one judge had in his favor by the score of 95-94.
Harrison almost made a statement by being very close to being the first to stop Ishe Smith, but it wasn’t to be and settled for the split decision victory. With the win, Harrison moves closer to title contention and perhaps will get opportunity for a title eliminator in his very next bout.
In the co-featured bout Andrew “The Beast” Tabiti kept his undefeated record intact with a knockout win over Lateef Kayode in their scheduled ten round bout. The first five rounds was an ugly hugfest fight as Tabiti (16-0, 13 KOs) spared the audience by ending it with a right uppercut in the sixth round and scoring an impressive knockout victory. Kayode (21-3, 16 KOs) dropped to his knees and was unable to beat the count. With the victory, Tabiti moves closer to title contention in the talented cruiserweight division.
PBC on Bounce TV Tony Harrison vs Ishe Smith Preview
By: Bryant Romero
Super welterweight contenders Tony Harrison and former world champion Ishe Smith will face off with one another on Friday May 11 at the Sam’s Town Hotel in Las Vegas with the winner of this bout inching closer to title contention. A lot is on the line for both combatants heading into this crossroads bout as the winner will move on to better things, which could mean a title eliminator in the near future. The loser will suffer another setback and will have to rebuild towards fighting at the world class level again.
Photo Credit: Chris Farina/Mayweather Promotions
The 39-year-old Smith (29-9, 12 KOs) is an 18 year veteran of the fight game and has been in the ring and sparred with the best in the world from different generation of fighters. Smith is looking to keep his momentum going as he’s coming off a close debatable loss to Julian Williams in his last bout, though many in attendance felt Smith was the deserved winner despite the scorecards awarding Williams with the unanimous decision win. Smith will now look to use his experience and veteran tactics to upset another young fighter who is looking to get back in title contention.
““Nobody has put on for Las Vegas like I have. I’ve done everything in my career the hard way. I took Cornelius Bundrage’s belt in his hometown. I’m not going to be beat on Friday night.
“I’ve been in this game two decades and I’ve seen the highs and the lows. If everything works out, I’ll be victorious on Friday night. I’m ready to go on the road and take on anyone,” Smith said.
Tony Harrison (26-2, 21 KOs) from Detroit is the odds favorite in this fight, though Harrison at the top level hasn’t proved whether he deserves to be as high as a 4-1 favorite heading into this bout and fighting in the hometown of Ishe Smith. Harrison showed promise early in his career and the Promotion had hoped with the charisma that he has, that perhaps they could’ve developed him into a marquee star, but he’s suffered setbacks in his two step up fights that would have taken him into another level had he won those fights.
Harrison has since bounced back with two wins in stay busy fights since the devastating stoppage loss to current unified super welterweight champion Jarrett Hurd in Harrison’s only world title opportunity thus far in his career. The 27-year-old is very still motivated to get into the ring and get back into title contention with a win over Smith this Friday night.
“Every time I step into the ring I’m extremely motivated. I’m fighting to feed my family. I’m from Detroit so we go through wars all the time. I was ready to jump on this fight as soon as they asked me about it.
“This is a fight that will get me back to a world title fight. This can get me right back into a title eliminator. What better place to do it than the boxing capital of the world? Everybody who fights wants to be in the main event fighting in Las Vegas,” Harrison said.
In the co-feature bout, Andrew Tabiti (15-0, 9 KOs) will look to keep his undefeated record intact when he takes on veteran Lateef Kayode (21-2, 16 KOs) in a ten round cruiserweight bout.
Ishe Smith vs. Tony Harrison Media Workout Quotes & Photos
Fight week events kicked off Wednesday with a media workout for the Premier Boxing Champions on Bounce card headlined by former world champion Ishe Smith taking on super welterweight contender Tony Harrison this Friday, May 11 from Sam’s Town in Las Vegas.
Coverage on Bounce begins at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT and also features unbeaten cruiserweight Andrew “The Beast” Tabiti, who participated in Wednesday’s workout, meeting Lateef Kayode for 10 rounds of action.
Tickets for the event, which is being promoted by Mayweather Promotions, begin at $25, are on sale now and will be available at www.samstownlv.com/entertain.
Here is what the participants had to say Wednesday:
Photo Credit: Chris Farina/Mayweather Promotions
“I’ve been in there with some great fighters throughout the year. My mentality is that no fighter is going to beat me who’s been stopped every time he’s stepped up. I have to do whatever I can to make sure that happens.
“This is the first time in my career that I’ve had a strength and conditioning coach for two fights in a row. I feel really good right now. I hate clichés and I hate saying this is the best camp of my life, but I really do feel like this is one of the best camps I’ve had. I felt like that last fight too, but I know I’ll sound like everybody else
“What motivates me is watching guys like LeBron James who have been doing this nearly as long as I have, and they’re still at the top of their game. That kind of longevity is what I strive for and that’s because I live that life inside and outside of the gym.
“I’ve been training for three months for this fight and I just want a fair shake on fight night. I thought the scorecards in the Julian Williams fight were terrible. I can’t control it but it’s definitely something I want to avoid on fight night.
“Nobody has put on for Las Vegas like I have. I’ve done everything in my career the hard way. I took Cornelius Bundrage’s belt in his hometown. I’m not going to be beat on Friday night.
“I’ve been in this game two decades and I’ve seen the highs and the lows. If everything works out, I’ll be victorious on Friday night. I’m ready to go on the road and take on anyone.”
“Every time I step into the ring I’m extremely motivated. I’m fighting to feed my family. I’m from Detroit so we go through wars all the time. I was ready to jump on this fight as soon as they asked me about it.
“This is a fight that will get me back to a world title fight. This can get me right back into a title eliminator. What better place to do it than the boxing capital of the world? Everybody who fights wants to be in the main event fighting in Las Vegas.
“Ishe Smith has been in a lot of tough fights and he’s fought most of the top guys in the division. If I can get him into some danger, I want to see how his will is at that moment. I’m going to push him from round one and I think it makes for a good fight.
“It’s part of my mental game to make him work round after round. If I see him slow down, it will make me push more. I appreciate what he’s done, but I don’t know how much more he has left. I want to be a champion like he was.
“Being the first person to stop Ishe would be an opportunity I have to take. It would make a statement. But if I go the distance, it would answer all of the questions the critics have had about my motor. I’m going to be fresh until the end of this fight.”
Photo Credit: Chris Farina/Mayweather Promotions
“I’m excited to put on a good show and take care of a solid durable opponent. I know that my time is coming and this another chance to show off my skills.
“Once I fight the top tier cruiserweights, they’re going to see what I’m capable of. I basically used Steve Cunningham’s game plan against him. I’m very adaptable.
“I’m focused on showing a versatile side of my boxing skills. I’m not going straight for the knockout. I want to show people that I have boxing IQ and the ability to knock anyone out in the ring. I want to show both sides of my skill set.”
LEONARD ELLERBE, CEO of Mayweather Promotions
“It’s always important to have great fights like this to Las Vegas. With Ishe Smith being a native it’s even better. This is a good fight that could put Ishe back into the thick of things. People don’t raise their hand to fight Ishe. I think Ishe has a second wind right now and he’s refreshed at this point in his career.
“Ishe doesn’t fight like he’s 39. There isn’t going to be anything that Tony Harrison can bring that Ishe hasn’t seen. Ishe has picked it up and I think the rest of the division knows that. It’s a deep weight class with a lot of possibilities out there. He has the ability to beat anyone out there.
“The future is very bright for Andrew TAbiti. It’s all in his hands. He has all the attributes that you need. He has a good team around him and it’s just a matter of finding ways to help him get to the next level. This is a great opportunity for him to showcase his skills against a very durable, tough guy in Kayode. Tabiti is looking to make a statement to all the other cruiserweights out there. He’s a guy they’re going to have to deal with in the very near future.”
Premier Boxing Champions on Bounce will also be available to be streamed live via Bounce’s new subscription-video-on-demand service Brown Sugar, which features an extensive and one-of-a-kind library of iconic black movies as well as Bounce original programming and series. Brown Sugar is available on Apple TV, Roku, Amazon Channels, Amazon Fire TV, Amazon Kindle, Android and Apple smartphones and tablets and web browsers via BrownSugar.com. Brown Sugar also has Google Chromecast capabilities which allow video to play on televisions directly from mobile devices and tablets for consumers with Android and iOS devices. There is a free initial trial period for subscribers with a retail price of $3.99/month thereafter.
Bounce (@bouncetv) is the fastest-growing African-American network on television and airs on the broadcast signals of local television stations and corresponding cable carriage. The network features a programming mix of original and off-network series, theatrical motion pictures, specials, live sports and more. Bounce has grown to be available in 99 million homes across the United States and 95% of all African-American television homes. Visit BounceTV.com for more information.
Ishe Smith: “It’s About The Work You Put In”
By: Sean Crose
“I started when I was eight,” Ishe Smith says. “Kinda just getting bullied at school…my mom’s friend was into boxing.” So began what eventually morphed into quite the notable career for the first Las Vegas native to ever win a major title. “It’s a part of who I am” the 39 year old former champ states. Still, with a world title win on his resume and 29 victories to his credit, the affable Smith is growing wary of the Vegas way of doing things.
Photo From Ishe Smith Media Workout with Bounce TV
“I can’t get a fair shake,” he says. “It’s just the judging, man.” Smith, who boasts a 29-9 record, makes it clear that he’s not a diva. “I’m a throwback fighter,” he claims. “I’m old school. I don’t care to take a loss.” What Smith does care about, however, is taking a loss he himself deems unfair. “If I offend the commission, I’m penalized for it,” he says, “(but) there’s no suspension for when a judge turns in a bad scorecard.”
One need only look at last year’s bout against Julian Williams to understand where Smith is coming from here. Smith may have lost by unanimous decision, but as Boxing Insider’s B.A. Cass put it: “The scores were too lopsided to be taken seriously.” Cass certainly wasn’t alone in his assertion of Vegas judging that night. “Nobody won that fight 9-1,” says Smith, referring to one of the score cards. “It’s disappointing.”
Those who take these words as evidence that Smith is bitter after a long career are sadly mistaken. A thoughtful, positive individual, Smith serves as living proof that an objective attitude and clean living can lead to longevity in the world’s most grueling sport. “It’s about the work you put in,” he claims, “and I plan on living.” Whereas some fighters fall victim to partying and unhealthy lifestyles, Smith goes the opposite route. “I don’t do those kinds of things,” he says. “I don’t drink. I never do drugs.”
Smith is also into personal growth…and just plain acting one’s age. “When I was young, I was a lot more brash,” says the fighter. “As you get older, you get wiser…I tried to mend relationships that may have been broken.” The more mature Smith now believes in the benefit of trying “to build a relationship and take down a wall.” This, after all, is a man whose personal motto is Muhammad Ali’s famous statement that: “The man who views the world at 50 the same as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.”
Not that long ago, the younger Smith made a name for himself by besting Randall Bailey and by appearing in the first season of The Contender. “We didn’t understand it then,” he says of himself and his fellow cast mates, regarding the exposure the show provided. Referring to iconic hosts Ray Leonard and Sylvester Stallone, Smith claims “They were on set every day.”
“It was a good platform,” he says. “People still recognize me from the show.” Television aside, Smith’s career got a serious boost when he became a member of Floyd Mayweather’s famed Mayweather Promotions in 2012. It was as a Mayweather Promotions fighter that Smith stepped into the ring as on the night of February 23’d 2013.
The IBF light middleweight championship of the world was at stake, a championship defended by hometown fighter Cornelius Burndradge. Undeterred by the moment and location, Smith went on to win a majority decision. The first Las Vegas fighter to ever win a major title did so by defeating the first Detroit fighter to win a major belt since Thomas Hearns.
“It was the greatest feeling in the world other than seeing my kids being born,” Smith says. “I had trained so hard for these ups and downs.” And being the first true Vegas champ? “That was key to me,” he adds. Smith ended up losing his belt to Carlos Molina, then lost a chance to attain the WBA world super welterweight title when he was outpointed by the masterful Erislandy Lara in 2014.
Yet Smith’s still a major part of the Mayweather stable. He’ll be facing another Detroit fighter, Tony Harrison (26-2) on May 11th. While admitting that Harrison is no slouch, Smith is now at the point in his career where his perspective turns inwards when it comes to a particular fight. “I’m at the age now,” he says, “where I don’t focus on opponents. I just think about myself.” The fighter has clearly learned not to sweat the small stuff. “I’m a veteran,” he claims. “You don’t worry about what you’re making tomorrow when you got dinner tonight.” Being a part of the Mayweather team must offer some peace of mind, as well.
“It’s a good gym,” Smith says of the Mayweather Gym in Vegas. “It’s where most of us train at.” Smith not only admires the gym, he admires those who occupy and operate it. “It’s run by great people,” he claims. “It’s an old school gym, only cleaner.” So, does he frequently see Floyd, the man he’s sparred regularly with and known since childhood? “He’s a very busy man now,” Smith says, “so it’s a lot different (than it used to be). He’s very busy and I’m still fighting…I don’t see him as much as when he fought.”
And so here Ishe Smith is, a working man in a sporting world seemingly ruled by the loudest people in every room. He’s a vet, he’s 39, and yet he’s still a force. It’s obvious when speaking to this religious, charitable individual, however, that there are things in his life even more important to him than boxing. A father of six, Smith speaks of his children with pleasure. “They’re all healthy,” he says. “I love being a dad.”
I ask Smith about his toughest opponent. It doesn’t take him long to answer. “The toughest guy I ever fought was Randall Bailey,” he states. “It was a growing up lesson…I had to grow up very fast that fight.” Sometimes, it seems, you just have to jump into the deep end.
“I don’t know what the hell I was thinking,” he laughs.
WBSS Results: Callum Smith Advances with Win over Holzken
By: Bryant Romero
Callum Smith earned a place in the WBSS final and a showdown with George Groves with a tougher than expected win over a very game Nieky Holzken in Nuremberg, Germany. Holzken (13-1) was a late replacement who took the fight on 5 days notice following the withdrawal of Jurgen Braehmer (49-3, 35 KOs) who was originally scheduled to fight Smith.
Photo Credit: World Boxing Super Series Twitter Account
Holzken showed no hesitation in replacing Braehmer and came into the fight with tremendous confidence. The 27-year-old Smith (24-0, 17 KOs) was obviously disappointed that Braehmer had pulled out, but now he had to worry about an undefeated Holzken, which he didn’t know much about and admitted after the fight, he may have underestimated the Dutchman a little.
The undefeated Brit started the fight strong, establishing his distance while maintaining it and consistently popping the Dutchman with clean jabs. Holzken was game however, as he continued to apply pressure throughout the fight and at times displaying good head movement, slipping some of Smith’s jabs. Holzken would at times land some really good power shots, but his lack of activity and shaky defense at times would cost him a lot of the early rounds.
Smith was content with keeping the Dutchman at distance, while also outworking and outpunching Holzken throughout the majority of the rounds. As the rounds progressed to the middle rounds however, Smith started to show signs of fatigue and Holzken would start to make a push in the middle rounds landing some nice clean hard shots.
The 34-year-old Dutchman was competitive throughout the fight and surprised many with the type of moments he was producing in the bout. Some predicted he would get stopped within six rounds, but Holzken closed the fight very strong and got the better of Smith in the final round. Holzken fought very well, but Smith’s workrate, clean jabs, and outlanding Holzken throughout the majority of the rounds would prove to be the difference.
With the win, Callum Smith keeps his undefeated record intact and will now get the fight he’s wanted the most, which is a world title opportunity against WBA super middleweight champion George Groves (28-3, 20 KOs) in the WBSS final. The final is scheduled for June 2 in the UK, but with the shoulder injury to Groves following his win over Eubank Jr, the final could get pushed back to a new date.
WBSS Preview: Callum Smith vs Nieky Holzken
By: Bryant Romero
This Saturday in Nuremberg, Germany, the World Boxing Super Series returns for the second super middleweight semifinal with Callum Smith(23-0, 17 KOs) taking on late replacement Nieky Holzken (13-0, 10 KOs). The winner will advance to the finals of the tournament for the right to challenge WBA super middleweight champion George Groves, who is fresh off his unanimous decision win over Chris Eubank Jr. Smith was originally scheduled to fight veteran German Jurgen Braehmer (49-3, 35 KOs) who was forced to pull out earlier this week due to an infection, which made it impossible for Braehmer to compete fully fit for this Saturday.
Photo Credit: World Boxing Super Series
Smith will now be opposite of the ring of a very confident but unknown challenger in Nieky Holzken who has vowed to the boxing press that he is here to “take over the world boxing super series.” Holzken is a former world champion kick boxer with over 100 fights under his belt as a kick boxer. The Dutchman turned professional as boxer in 2013 and he is coming off an impressive second-round knockout of Viktor Polyakov just three weeks ago. The unbeaten Dutchman had originally been scheduled to face Dmitry Chudinov on the undercard, but will now get the opportunity in what will be seen as a major upset if he can beat the undefeated Callum Smith and advance to the finals of WBSS tournament.
Callum Smith is the number one contender for the WBC title at super middleweight and was on the verge of title shot before deciding to enter the tournament. He signed an agreement to face American Anthony Dirrell for the vacant WBC world title in America for which never occurred. The unbeaten Brit now finds himself in the semifinals of the WBSS tournament and is one win away from a very lucrative showdown and first world title opportunity against George Groves.
The decision to enter the tournament was the smart business move for Callum Smith, but now he finds himself in a tricky situation in dealing with the pullout of his original opponent in Braehmer and having to quickly adjust to a late replacement in Holzken who brings a much different style and fights from the orthodox stance.
The change in opponent, fighting away from home in Germany, the confidence that Holzken is displaying, and the fact that Smith knows nothing about his new opponent could be a recipe of a much more difficult night than expected at the office for Callum Smith. The bookies don’t give the Ducthman a prayer to win the fight, but stranger things have happen in boxing and perhaps we could be in for an interesting fight in this Callum Smith vs Nieky Holzken semifinal showdown.
Boxing insider Interview: Cruiserweight Prospect Chris Billam-Smith
By: Oliver McManus
Off the back of our British Boxers to Watch feature, I spoke to 4 and 0 Cruiserweight prospect Chris Billam-Smith about his career thus far and what the future has in store for him – boxing on Cyclone Promotions shows, the Bournemouth-born fighter has a 100% knockout percentage having defeated (seeing as it’s only four names, I’ll list them all) Russ Henshaw, Aleksandar Todorovic, Jan Hrazdira and Lazslo Ivanyi to the plaudits of the boxing community.
Chris, pleasure to speak to you, first year in the pro ranks – how do you think it’s gone?
It’s been great. A great opportunity me to work with a great team and great people. I had a busy 11 weeks from September to December with 4 fights which is also great, so I’m a lucky man.
You’ve fought four times in three months, are you looking to keep that sort of regularity going into 2018?
A bit more rest would be good! I’m sure it will slow down a bit now as going into 6 and 8 rounders before hopefully fighting for a title towards the end of the year. Whatever the title may be.
What do you make of the quality of fighter you’ve faced? They’ve certainly not been walkovers but you’ve dispatched with them emphatically.
Well you know how the business works. These are guys I’m supposed to be beating so I’m not getting ahead of myself. I’ve just been accurate and timed shots well. But tougher tests will come and I look forward to them especially domestically it’s becoming an exciting division.
You’re nicknamed The Gentleman, where does this come from?
It was Shanes shout. We had a few nicknames chucked about in gym CBSExpress was a close 2nd but Shane said because of my manners and the way I conduct myself. I have my father to thank for that as he is a gent.
How would you describe your fighting style?
I’m not sure really I’ll let you guys (the media)* describe it how you wish. All I know is I’ll be in some great exciting fights.
*for what it’s worth, this is how I described his style; “the youngster already showcasing a full range of skills that are destined to take him far – a prolific body puncher, his right hand hook is ferocious to say least and enough to send anyone crumpling to the canvas.”
Do you think you’re amateur experience helps you transition easily into the paid ranks?
Yeah because as an amateur I was a boxer through and through and boxed as an Elite from my 15th fight after I won the novices so I was always used to boxing good opposition.
You’re promoted and trained by the McGuigan’s who also promote Chantelle Cameron and Josh Taylor – how exciting is the future for Cyclone?
Very exciting. Especially as bit Chantelle and Josh Taylor are on the verge on winning world titles. It’s a great atmosphere in the gym. And we’re all grafting away and loving the big nights.
You’ve sparred both Isaac Chamberlain and Lawrence Okolie – from your experience, who wins that fight?
I sparred Okolie as an amateur so both him and I would’ve improved since then, but Chamberlain I have sparred more recently. I really can’t pick them as Chamberlain is hard to hit clean so will that nullify Okolie’s power? But Okolie isn’t all just saw power he is good at setting shots up too. It is a great fight and one I look forward to watching. If I had to make a decision is edge towards Okolie but no result will surprise.
I’ve heard you say you think more free to air boxing would help the sport, how has it benefited your career?
It’s been great. I’ve boxed in Scotland and Leicester so quite a long way from home and the ones who haven’t been able to travel have been able to watch me On TV. I’m getting a great backing and I’ve been stopped by strangers saying nice things to me so it’s great that not only me, but the sport as a whole is getting more exposure.
And finally then what are your plans for 2018, are you looking at any particular title fights?
Keep winning, keep the stoppages coming, keep enjoying myself and improving and get a title before the year is up. It doesn’t matter which one at this stage as it’s still early but I’m ready to get one as soon as obligations like fight in a scheduled 8 rounder are met.
Cheers for speaking to us at Boxing Insider, all the best!
Thank you guys for the interview. All the best
Many thanks, then, to Chris for taking the time out to speak to us ahead of what promises to be an exciting year and, indeed, career in general.
Let me just say that his nickname, The Gentleman, could not be a truer summarisation of his character – a truly humble man, full of manners, and a delight to speak to.
A really exciting fight that I’d like to see the youngster in would be a match-up with Wadi Camacho, potentially for the Southern Area championship, which would provide him with a good opportunity to test his array of skills against a domestic fighter who has stood the test of time.
Mayweather Promotions on Bounce TV Results: Williams defeats Smith
by B.A. Cass
Julian Williams defeated Ishe Smith tonight by unanimous decision. The scores were too lopsided to be taken seriously.
Photo Credit: Mayweather Promotions
In the first round, Williams used his quick, powerful jab to keep Smith at bay. But Smith didn’t back down and kept walking Williams down.
During the second round, it became clear that all Williams has to offer is the jab. Smith, on the other hand, is a multi-dimensional fighter. He put in work to the body while also throwing jabs and rights to the head.
Williams did utilize his right hand in the third round, but that was because Smith made him use it by bringing the action to Williams. During this round, Williams head-butted Smith causing a cut to open to the side of Smith’s left eye.
During the fourth round, Smith slipped and immediately got up. But Smith was soon reprimanded for hitting Williams with a low blow. Smith continued to work the body of his opponent during the third round, but his cut opened again.
The fight really started to get fun in the fifth round. Smith went for it—letting his hands go and hitting to the body and the head. Williams didn’t buckle, and he deserves credit for that. Just before the round ended, Smith landed a great right hand to the head.
For some inexplicable reason, Williams stopped using his jab during the sixth round. His jab had previously been his only defense against the more aggressive Smith. During the seventh, Williams head-butted Smith again, opening a new cut, this time above the left eye. This time the cut was bad, and the blood was coming down into Smith’s eye. In the next round, the referee paused the fight to get the doctor to look Smith’s cut, which was bleeding. “I can see,” Smith said, and the doctor gave his okay.
In the ninth round, Williams was more active, and the Smith’s hometown fans started chanting, “Ishe, Ishe, Ishe.” Williams was still forgoing the use of his jab, and because of this, Smith was able to land a series of clean combinations.
And then in the tenth round, Williams landed another headbutt. I say “landed” because it’s hard to believe that this third headbutt was accidental. Williams came at Smith like a soccer player trying to go for a header. Smith was hurt and stood for a moment doubled over. But the fight continued, and Smith was more active, as he had been for much of the fight. Smith ended strong.
It was a very close fight, but the scores did not reflect that at all. The scores were 99-91, 98-92 and 97-93 for Williams. But bad scoring is something fight fans have come to expect when a fight takes place in Las Vegas.
However, the fight between Earl Newman and Lionell Thompson was judged fairly.
In the first round, Thompson was more active but inflicted no damage to his opponent. Newman landed jabs, mostly to the chest, and seemed to be controlling the movement of the fight.
The second round was uneventful, except for the fact that Floyd Mayweather—wearing a white turtle and grey sportscoat—began offering advice to Thompson from his ringside seats.
Everything changed in the third round. It was during this round that Thompson landed a solid uppercut that staggered Newman. Thompson got his opponent against the ropes and may have finished him, had not the referee, Robert Byrd, interceded. Byrd didn’t stop the fight but instead offered Newman an eight count. It was unclear why Byrd decided to do this as Newman hardly touched the ropes.
During the fourth round, Newman was knocked down. He took his time getting up and once the fight resumed it appeared Newman’s legs had yet to recover. Byrd told him, “Got to show me something, son.”
By the fifth round, it became clear that Thompson was now controlling the movement of the fight. He was making Newman follow him around. Worse, Newman wasn’t letting his hands go. During the sixth round, Thompson began throwing combinations to the body and Newman was staggered once.
Newman started to pick up the pace a bit starting in the seventh round. He was throwing more combinations, but he was still too slow. For example, in the eighth round, he hit Thompson with a solid right but then paused before landing body shots, giving Thompson time to protect himself. Thompson wasn’t damaged by any of Newman’s shots.
Thompson performed much better than probably anyone expected. He was faster, more aggressive, and, baring the eighth and ninth rounds, more active than Newman. Thompson also showed brilliance in backing up and using the ropes to evade his opponent’s punches.
And so, it was no surprise when all three judges gave Lionell Thompson the win. It was the right choice, even if it put the dreams of the top-heavy Earl Newman, two-time NY Golden Gloves winner and formally undefeated fighter, on hold. It’s hard to see where Newman goes from here. He needed a decisive win to progress to the next level, but he has shown that he just isn’t that impressive.
Follow B.A. Cass on Twitter @WiththePunch
Mayweather Promotions Boxing Preview: Julian “J-Rock” Williams vs. Ishe Smith; Earl Newman vs. Lionell Thompson
by B.A. Cass
This Saturday at the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas Mayweather Promotions brings us some interesting fights—well, potentially interesting. The fights will air on Bounce TV starting at 9 PM EST. I’m particularly excited to watch the main event between Julian Williams an Ishe Smith and the undercard fight between Earl Newman and Lionell Thompson. Here’s why.
Earl Newman (10-0-1) vs. Lionell Thompson (18-4); 10 rounds; light Heavyweight
In September, after a layoff of nearly a year, Newman fought Paul Parker, a contest that ended in a draw. Newman is a two-time New York Golden Gloves winner. He’s to be a talented boxer. However, he’s a top-heavy athlete who operates with a certain amount of caution in the ring. It’s unlikely that anyone is going to catch him with that one devastating shot.
Back in 2014, Thompson was knocked out by a fresh-faced Sergey Kovalev, a devastating loss that came in the third round. He has since won more than he’s lost, and he’s still a solid fighter. He doesn’t seem to like to let his hands go. He may just be the perfect opponent for Newman. Like Newman, no one would call Thompson fleet-footed. As far as styles go, they’ll be equally matched. Newman won’t have to worry about a barrage of combinations coming his way, which means he can concentrate on doing what he does best—working down his opponent and slowly breaking him down.
I’ll be watching to see whether Newman can finally distinguish himself as a future contender. He’s got skill and intelligence, but he needs an impressive win.
Julian “J-Rock” Williams (23-1-1) vs. Ishe Smith (28-8); 10 rounds; Junior Middleweights
The hard-hitting Williams may be best known for being the knocked out by Jermall Charlo. Williams landed a jab and right that just barely reached Charlo, who then stepped in with a sharp right uppercut. Williams’ legs gave out and he face-planted into the canvas. The referee started the count and, wavering slightly, Williams got to his feet. The fight continued, but only for a few seconds. Charlo came at him, throwing solid, though not hard-hitting, combinations. Williams fell to canvas again, this time on his back.
Since his defeat to Charlo, Williams has fought once, against Joshua Conley. For most of their fight, Conley was so inactive that he could be said to be stagnant. And although Williams worked Conley down, I doubt anyone would say he put on an impressive performance. In fact, for a man who hadn’t received much damage, he looked almost as tired as Conley.
Ishe Smith is twelve years older than Williams, and you can look at that two ways. One on hand, he clearly doesn’t have the speed he used to have, which should give the 27-year-old Williams a clear advantage. On the other hand, Smith has twelve years of experience on Williams. Also, Smith has faced superior opponents, and, even though he has lost to men like Erislandy and Lara and Danny Jacobs, he has never been knocked out.
Smith is crafty. He knows how to take a hit, knows how to draw an opponent in, knows how to tire a guy out, he knows how to duck and weave away from punches. He is a consummate professional.
Williams may be the favorite, he may have a better record, but from the looks of it, he still hasn’t gained his confidence back from his loss to Charlo—which means, Smith could surprise us.
Smith has had a hard year, a hard life actually. Not a man given to self-pity, Smith remains driven despite all the obstacles he’s had to face. He has put his children before his boxing career but this year was particularly hard for him as the mother of his three children was executed. At thirty-nine, he has only so much time remaining as a professional fighter. This fight will determine whether he continues. It’s hard not to root for a guy who’s been through so much.
Follow B.A. Cass on Twitter @WiththePunch
Liam Smith Defeats Liam Williams in Grudge Match
By: Oliver McManus
Boxing returned to the North East in style as Newcastle hosted its first major show since 2015 and made an immediate impact, leaving an instantaneous longing for a speedy return.
The main event saw embittered rivals Liam Smith and Liam Williams embark on a grudge match that has been in the making for the last 7 months, following the Liam Smith’s controversial victory over the Welshman back in April.
An official eliminator for the WBO World Light Middleweight title, previously held by Smith, there was plenty on the line for the winner aside from bragging rights.
The betting money was on The Machine to avenge his sole loss and in a tense opening round it was Williams who, indeed, managed to get the better of his man with several sharp jabs clipping Smith through the gloves.
It didn’t take long for the fight to ignite, however, with Beefy loosening up in a bid to enhance his record to 26-1, lucid body movement from Smith kept him in control for much of the second round and a delightful uppercut kept Williams in check – the Welshman shot back with some smooth left-hand’s of his own.
With the fight flowing into the 3rd round, the 16-1-1 fighter from Clydach Vale, Wales, stuck to the centre of the ring and landed with some eye-catching right hand shots to rock his Liverpudlian opponent.
He imposed himself for the following round too, in a bout lacking the fireworks from their previous battle, landing strong jabs and right hands, boxing on the front foot. Smith hit back with a couple of good shots that momentarily put Williams on the back-foot, a tight, edgy fight.
A flurry of combinations kept the former Champion against the ropes who had only his jab working to effect, Beefy looked to hold as the Welshman landed cleaner, crisper shots throughout the opening portions of the fight.
The halfway point marked a better round for Liam Smith, landing repeatedly with far superior jabs and engaging in a sharper exchange of punches than in any previous rounds – that body movement noted early came in to play again and was used to good effect as he forced his opponent to swipe at thin air on numerous occasions.
Williams bit back with hard uppercuts in the 7th, keeping his rival in a defensive mind-set, landing with successful shots before being jabbed around by Smith who took a measured, controlled approach to the fight.
Words were exchanged between the fighters who, despite a relatively muted crowd, were putting on a tough 50-50 display of gritty fighting – albeit without the sparks some expected – and a sharp set of short inside combinations marked the first instance of notable success for Smith who, in probability, had been controlling the fight up until now despite the more eye-catching action coming from the opposite corner.
An increase in tempo came from the man who won the last contest, perhaps gaining from a psychological advantage, doubling up on the jab before connecting with some snappy shots to the body of Williams.
Into the final third of the fight with Smith seemingly up on the scorecards, The Machine came out with an air of authority about him for the 9th round. Buoyed on by his trainer Gary Lockett, he landed long, reaching jabs in the early stages before creating opportunities for combination shots from wider angles; a short left hook that troubled Smith was of particular note and Williams’ sensed a shift in momentum to the rematch in which no-one had gained full control of.
With the fight swinging in his direction, Williams came out swinging in Smith’s direction landing a peach of a left hook that caught the 29 year old around his tight defensive guard – followed by a body-shot, uppercut combination, an avalanche of polished shots were rattled off to earn him a foothold in the contest with ever tightening scorecards.
Almost as if they decided they would only kick to life where the fight finished back in April (after the 9th round), the two fighters stood stock in front of each-other for the 11th round trading blows, with combinations snapping both their heads back. The round ends with a powerful right hand from Smith to, potentially, nab the round from the judges.
The final round saw both men attempt to go out with a bang but Smith was the more aggressive of the two, keeping his technical style going, working Williams towards the ropes with an ever-present, intrusive jab. Into the 90 seconds and the Welshman started to let his hands flow, slamming shots into the body – many of which failed to land cleanly.
Smith beckoned the onslaught and withstood the tide before pursuing his man with a mixture of stylish defensive work combined with the old one-two combination. A few wild shots missed the mark but all in all, the Liverpudlian never looked out of control.
It must be said the fight never really clicked into the classic that many of us hoped it would with the fight overshadowed by a cautious fighting nature, attempting to keep one another at bay as opposed to going all out for a knockout.
On paper it looked close but I think it’s fair to say that Liam Smith remained relatively unchallenged which is why I scored it 117-112 to the former WBO Lightweight Champion.
Going to the scorecards the judges scored it 114-114, 116-112 and 117-111 for a majority decision to Liam Smith who moves to 26-1 and guaranteeing himself a shot at the WBO World Lightweight title in the early stages of next year.
Also featuring on the card was a real domestic dust-up between two Northern fighters scrapping for the IBF Europe Super Lightweight title with unbeaten prospect Josh Leather (12-0) facing off with, experienced statesman, Glenn Foot (21-2).
At 5 years younger, Leather possessed a 3inch reach advantage over his Sunderland-based opponent and the slick puncher was looking to make The Hammer the 13th name on his burgeoning CV.
Foot, a former Prizefighter champion, had labelled the champion “a pretender” during the build-up and came out of the blocks with a bit of needle, staying low, pushing Leather to the ropes and landing a succession of hooks.
The 30 year old kept atop of his opponent with strong upper-body movement, enabling him to roll underneath the oncoming shots from Leather.
With a strong contingent of fans coming to support him, the Guisborough-man looked to fire back with some brutal right hand jabs that encouraged foot to commit to the attack – Steve Gray, the referee, had words with both fighters in the second round for some over-exuberant antics.
Foot landed some heavy punches and towards the end of the second round, dropped Leather to the canvas with a sensational right-hand to the chin. Wincing but on his feet, defensive mode set in for the pre-fight favourite.
Agitated seems an apt word to describe this bout with both fighters getting under each other’s skin. An absolutely tempestuous start from the 21-2 former English champion saw him bully his opposing man, keeping him in close quarters and fighting in the pocket.
Leather seemed uncomfortable but by no means out of his depth and kept his presence noticeable by way of solid right hands to the head and body of the ever-advancing , black and gold trim wearing, Foot.
Going into the second half of the fight, the younger man started to show glimpses of his promising quality landing with strong jabs, boxing from distance resulting in a frustrated Foot having a point taken away for throwing a punch after break had been called.
Both men kept the tempo up with shots flowing between the pair – Foot remaining the more dominant fighter going into the latter stages of the fight – with Leather trying to keep to his strength of distance boxing, to a reasonable degree of success.
The 12-0 former ABA champion seemed to adapt to the unfaltering roughhouse style of fighting that was coming his way and established his position at the centre of the ring, displaying the skills that saw him win the title against Philip Sutcliffe back in May.
I identified in my preview earlier this week that it was going to be a tough fight for Glenn Foot unless he imposed his style of fighting from the outset and it’s clear that he was reading what I had to say – coming out in a position of strength and staying there, the ease of transition between head and body attack was impressive throughout.
Into the 10th round, Leather re-established why he’s the title holder and kept the pressure up on Foot, sending the fighter staggering back before The Hammer was deducted yet another point for spitting out his gumshield. A crucial round for Leather.
Both men seemed to fatigue in the final two rounds but were determined to keep the tempo cranked firmly up, trading leather around the edges of the ring with the pair landing several slamming shots to their opponent in what can only be described as all-out war.
Declaring themselves as the winner immediately after the bell, the decision went to the judges who scored it 114-111, 113-112 and 115-110 unanimously to… AND STILL IBF European Lightweight Champion, Joshua Leather who moves to 13-0 and improves his world stature having been in a barnstormer of a fight; for what it’s worth, I had Leather winning 113-112.
Looking to defend his BBBofC Super Bantamweight title for the first time, Thomas Patrick Ward (21-0) went to war with Sean Davis (13-1) – both fighters coming to the ring at 8st 9lbs.
It was the challenger who came out fastest with Showtime looking to hassle Ward into a mistake, landing some strong left hand-jabs whilst skipping around the ring to keep Davis on his toes; a variety of shots from the Birmingham-born fighter produced measured success.
The champion on the other hand stayed true to his game with a textbook display of technical boxing, countering his opponent’s energy with patience and a series of crisp right hand shots as well as a flush left uppercut in the middle of the second round.
It seemed as though Davis was trying to fatigue the home favourite into defeat – perhaps noting that he faded in his previous fight against Jazza Dickens – but strong footwork from Ward ensured he never seemed in trouble throughout the opening stanza of the bout.
Indeed despite being the more passive fighter, it’s arguable that Tommy landed the most notable punches with his, albeit, infrequent right-hand counter shots proving to be easy on the eye and effective, to boot.
The middle rounds continued to be a boxing purist’s delight with Ward appearing relaxed amid the onslaught from Davis, producing a defensive masterclass, evading shots to head and body whilst picking the challenger off seemingly at will.
Balance was the key strength for, County Durham’s, Ward with the 23 year old keeping the ebb and flow at equilibrium, throwing in fast combinations whilst simultaneously removing himself from danger.
The 6th round saw a bad cut emerge from above the right eye of the Champion as a result of a hard clash of heads between the two fighters – despite the best work of, cutman, Michael Marsden, the cut was of a visible disturbance to Ward who seemed to be more cautious and defensively penetrable following the incident.
Big right hands from Davis heading into the championship rounds looked to rattle Ward – who kept firing back, nonetheless – and the 27 year old kept on coming back relentless with fierce, ferocious, non-stop punches being thrown towards the fatiguing body opposite him.
The deepening cut seemed to be the cause for hope of an upset but Ward remained composed in the face of adversity (and a face full of blood), landing some punishing jabs to the face of his foe in the closing stages of the fight – Davis kept up a constant stream of energy but ultimately knew he was facing a losing battle.
An embrace of respect before the start of the 12th round as well as at the end of the fight was a mark of the manner in which this fight was fought – brutal but not bitter; the fight went to the scorecards, I had it 117-113 to Ward and the people that matter, the judges, scored it in a similar manner – 117-112, 118-111 and 118-111 all in favour of the young gun from Country Durham.
Tommy triumphed on Tyneside, establishing himself as an emerging force to be reckoned with in the Super Bantamweight division but a spirited display from Sean Davis proved he’s not a fighter to be sniffed at and, surely, we’ll see him come again.
The heavyweight match-up between Nathan Gorman and Mohamed Soltby saw the two unbeaten fighters (10-0 and 13-0, respectively) weighing in at polar opposites – Gorman was significantly heavier at 18st 12oz, Soltby registering at 15st 9lbs 13oz.
Gorman was the immediate aggressor, lunging in with several left hands in the opening minute before landing a couple of successful shots to the body. Possessing the centre of the ring, Gorman was snappy with the jab and kept Soltby at bay for the vast majority of the first round.
The following round would follow a similar story with Gorman targeting the body of Soltby whilst missing with several wild wielding uppercuts – the German proving a tricky challenge for Gorman but, ultimately, the Cheshire fighter was firmly in control.
It might be harsh to say but the highlight of the opening 4 rounds was when the fight had to be halted momentarily to allow Soltby’s corner to retie his shoelace.
Nonetheless, Gorman was allowing his hands to loosen and firing some fast jabs at his opponent with a mere handful of shots being returned.
But the 5th round proved to be decisive with the Englishman looking to stamp his authority from the beginning, landing a firm right uppercut to wobble the German before dropping him to the canvas when Soltby had his back turned.
A barrage of left hooks came reigning in from the heavier fighter, bashing the body before a punishing right uppercut physically dazed Mohamed Soltby and led the referee to call an end to the fight – a one-sided 5th round TKO for the Hatton-trained protégé, moving to 11-0 and securing a World Ranking with the WBC (as well as their International Silver title).
On some of the more minor fights on the card, Jeff Saunders beat Steven Lewis on points to set up a potential clash with Jack Caterall for the BBBofC British Super Lightweight title; Mark Heffron moved to 18-0 in the super middleweight division thanks to a 7th round knockout of (19-4) Lewis Taylor; hot middleweight prospect Troy Williamson advanced to 5-0 with a shutout points decision over 6 rounds against Miguel Aguilar and, finally, 23 year old, Joe Maphosa defeated Craig Derbyshire to go 3 and 0 in the flyweight division.
A sensational night of boxing, that can’t be argued, with old rivalries put to bed and new rivalries just in their embers – Leather/Foot is surely a rematch that has to happen.
A rapturous Newcastle crowd were vocal in their enjoyment and the return of World Title boxing to the city can only be moving ever closer.
A Look into the Liam Smith and Liam Williams Rematch
By: Oliva McManus
No if’s, no but’s, this promises to be one of the most exciting nights of domestic boxing in recent memory – promoted by Frank Warren and live on BT Sport & BoxNation, the Metro Radio Arena in Newcastle plays host to a night of sensational boxing on the 11th November, headlined by the rematch between Liam Smith and Liam Williams. Also on the card, and being previewed here, is Thomas Patrick Ward, Josh Leather and Nathan Gorman.
The main event has been in the works for the last 7 months following the controversial first bout between Williams and Smith – many had Williams leading on their card but with Smith coming stronger in the latter rounds. With an accidental clash of heads, that Williams maintains was intentional, and the ringside doctor considering it not serious enough for the fight to be waved off, Williams’ corner men took the decision to withdraw their fighter at the 9th round.
Since then the two fighters have been embroiled in a war of words both over social media and at press conferences to add a bitter tinge to this rivalry – which can only mean even more exciting action the second time round.
Williams (16-1-1) was born in Wales and before fighting Smith in April had an illustrious record including British, Commonwealth and WBO European Super Welterweight title’s – standing at 5”10, he has the ever so slight edge over the 5”9.5 Smith and is noticeable for keeping his head down when up-close with the opponent.
A brawler, when he lets his hands go, he has a lack of control which, in a way, is appealing. A really strong right hand hook, this was exemplified during his 11th round stoppage of Gary Corcoran – another fight of his in which there was a clash of head’s.
Don’t be mistaken though, Williams is patient in his style but when he senses a weakness, he moves quickly to exploit it. A strong left hand jab keeps the opponent at length before a useful flurry of shots softens up the opponent.
Smith (25-1-1) is undeniably the higher profile of the two fighters having held the WBO World Super Welterweight title between October 2015 and September 2016; after winning the belt against John Thompson, he made two successful defences against Jimmy Kilrain Kelly and Predrag Radosevic before travelling to America for a spirited 9th round loss against Saul Alvarez.
You can’t doubt the heart of Smith then and when he gets going, it’s hard to argue with his boxing ability either – tending to take to the centre of the ring, he is often said to “pick opponents off”, wearing them down with a constant barrage of shots before dismissing with them in the latter half of the fight.
With a tight defence, he himself is hard to breakdown but Williams exploited his lack of experience in not being the one in control but Smith will have hoped to have learned his lesson from that.
Armed with a deceptive knockout power, the Liverpudlian known as Beefy, likes to target the body of opponents with several sharp shots to the ribcage before targeting the head with repetitive jabs and then returning to the body.
The key unknown to this fight is emotion, it’s not often that you hear emotion spoke of in a boxing context but this is the first fight the two fighters have been in with a genuine dislike for the opponents so the question is, how will this change their game plan?
Next up is Thomas Patrick Ward (21-0) defending his BBBofC British Super Bantamweight title against Sean Davis (13-1) in a fight which is almost destined to go the distance – the duo’s 34 wins combined carry with them a mere two knockouts.
Ward had been a fighter that had gone very much under-the-radar on the domestic scene until May of this year – his 21st professional fight – when he fought James “Jazza” Dickens for the British title. Prior to that, his best victories were, arguably, against Robbie Turley (16-5) and Nasibu Ramadhan (17-5-1) which kind of tells you everything you need to know about the level of opponent he’d been up against.
You don’t need high class opposition to be able to show off your own high class skills, however, and Tommy Ward has impressed immensely whenever he’s been on display – easy on the eye, if you’re a boxing purist you’ll love him. Capable of withstanding attacks, his style is one where he waits for opponents to come forward before exploiting the gaps in their defence.
He’s a patient fighter – not boring though – and I think that’s highlighted by the fact that in his fight against Norbert Kalucza, last year, I counted about 20 consecutive seconds of him just standing in the middle of the ring toying with Kalucza, baiting him into an attack.
Aged just 23 years old the Birmingham-born super bantamweight finds himself already ranked 12th with the WBO and 4th with the EBU – if I were his promoter Frank Warren, I’d be targeting a scrap with European champion Abigail Medina where, were he to be successful, he would avenge his brother’s defeat earlier this year.
Davis, on the other hand, is 4 years older at 27 yet has the much shorter resume of a mere 14 fights. Despite that he comes into the bout with more prestigious victories including the likes of Jason Booth for the English title and Paul Economidies for the WBC International strap.
Showtime, as he’s known, carries the unique style of leaving his left hand hanging in front of the opposite fighter as a way of both measuring the reach but equally blind-siding the opponent before launching a hard, looping right hand – a shot that comes reigning down on the opponent from an oddly jolted knee position, allowing him to simultaneously connect and evade.
Although having never secured a knockout victory, I’d actually argue that Davis is the more powerful of the two fighters – neither laying claim to “power puncher” status, however – with a repetitive, concussive style of punches.
Against Gamal Yafai (at the time 11-0) in May, his defences were exploited as The Beast dropped the Hockley-resident on 6 separate occasions before dispatching with him convincingly in the 7th. Davis showed heart, that can’t be argued, but he was guilty of standing too square in front of Yafai and failed to maintain a sharp, astute defence with the body being a particular area of weakness.
In a real cross-roads fight, Davis will be hoping to restate his stature in the super bantamweight division – at least domestically, anyway – with the winner of this fight looking to push on for a shot at, at least, a European title. Who wins it? Tommy Ward for me but it’s a pick ‘em!
Josh Leather also features as he and Glenn Foot go to war for the IBF East/West Europe Super Lightweight Title – a belt that makes no logistical titular sense – the winner of which should receive an enhanced prestigious Top 15 Ranking with the organization.
At 12-0 Leather is already regarded as one of the hottest prospects in the super lightweight division, not just in Britain but globally – already ranked 14th with the IBF, he’ll be looking to stake his claim for a shot at the recently-crowned champion Sergei Lipinets by emphatically beating Glenn Foot on Saturday night.
From Middlesbrough, Yorkshire, the 25 year-old stands 5”10 and came into the pro ranks with a distinguished amateur record – the 2012 Lightweight ABA Champion – and whilst he hasn’t been particularly active since (averaging a mere 3 fights a year), his career has been going distinctly upwards in the last 18 months.
Armed with sudden explosivity, if he lands a right hand hook and feels it wobbled you then bam, before you know it, one, two, three, four, sharp, jading combination shots come in to both head and body.
Fighting with passion, Leather isn’t reckless, the young man is never afraid to bite down on the gum-shield and let sparks fly but he’ll do so with a degree of precision and aggressive that makes him a dangerous fighter to enrage.
Foot, from Sunderland, is an experienced domestic-level fighter having fought anywhere from the 140lb lightweight division all the way up to 161lbs (admittedly for only one fight), with most of his time spent around the 148lbs region.
Don’t let that be conflated with a lack of quality – let me stamp that out from the start – the 30 year-old has been in with some notable names such as Sam Eggington, Akeem Ennis Brown, Kirk Goodings, Adam Little, Philip Bowes and Jason Cook.
At 21-2 his losses have come against Eggington and Ennis Brown, but nonetheless Foot possess an array of impressive attributes – the most important of all being sheer grit and durability, a man that is hard to break down is always going to be a half-decent boxer and this particular man has proven to be rather more than half-decent.
A high guard compliments his ramrod territorial jabs that keep foes at bay before the Black Cats fan exploits their fatigue during the latter rounds of a fight. Slower on his feet than Leather with less firepower in his armoury, it could be a tough fight if Glenn doesn’t take control right from the early stages.
The final major fight is Nathan Gorman against Mohamed Soltby for the WBC International Silver Heavyweight Title; Gorman (10-0) was originally slated to face Nick Webb for the BBBofC English Heavyweight title and despite rumours that Webb withdrew from the fight, it has emerged that Gorman was actually the one to pull out, reasoning that they “wanted to go a different route”.
Both promoted by, hall of fame promoter, Frank Warren, the likely outcome of this fight is leaving fight fans in the lurk with British boxing diehards labelling Nathan Gorman as one of the bright hopes for heavyweight boxing and German followers backing Soltby as their man to cause an upset on foreign soil.
Neither come with particularly strong names on their resume; Dominic Akinlade and Kamil Sokolowski being the most forthcoming for Gorman – a former Central Area champion – and Laszlo Hubert and Zoltan Csala the two main names for Solbty.
Soltby, 13-0, and Gorman both come to the ring with 8 knockouts apiece and come to the ring with very similar fighting styles – both determined to go after the opposition from the first whistle in order to force the stoppage as opposed to waiting for a more natural opportunity. Gorman has faster footwork but Soltby carries a 1.5inch height advantage and often swings his head back in to keep the other fighter always thinking.
Being friends with Soltby on Snapchat (shameless plug, there), he’s literally not been out of the gym for the past few months so conditioning isn’t going to be an issue and Gorman certainly looks like he could be the real so I, for one, am absolutely ecstatic for this fight which is going to be one of two things – fireworks or bust.
In a night of packed action, the rematch between Liam Smith and Liam Williams is undeniably the one that draws the eye – with the winner looking for an immediate return to the world scene – but a complimentary undercard from top to bottoms looks set to keep the Newcastle crows, as well as viewers at home, on the edge of their seat. No if’s, no but’s.