Covid Camp Comes To a Close As Joe “The Beast” Jr.
Is Ready for WBO Light Heavyweight Title Eliminator
Against Eleider "Storm" Alvarez August 22nd
Live From The Bubble at MGM Grand, Las Vegas On ESPN+!
(August 15th) As Joe Smith Jr's. WBO Light Heavyweight World Championship Title Eliminator against ELEIDER "STORM" ALVAREZ (25-1 13KO's) comes roaring around the corner on August 22, a unique fight camp comes to a close. Gyms that were once filled with echoing punches on the heavy bag, the clicking of a jump ropes on the floor and the conversation of stories from boxing past, now remain in a deafening silence.
Regardless of the current COVID world, when the phone rings, Long Island's Common Man, Joe Smith Jr., answers. Come fight night the goal remains the same for Joe Smith Jr., "I just want to keep it going," he said, " I got to put on a great show every time I'm in there, so I can have more and more people recognize me."
Fighters, who are often characterized as creatures of habit, have dealt with this "new normal" in different ways. For Smith Jr., it was a change he recognized, but something he knew he must embrace and make 'common', "It was different but as far as training goes, when your training you're not really around people going out and doing things, so the last two months haven't made a big difference because I would separate myself from everyone normally."
Smith Jr. will be returning for his second consecutive bout on ESPN (this time on ESPN+), where he was last in action this past January, defeating then #3 world rated light heavyweight JESSE HART (then 26-2 21KO's) in classic upset fashion. Smith believes it's his duty as a fighter to to bring live sporting entertainment into the homes of millions who have otherwise been in a sport drought, "Boxing has been carrying the sports world. We have to make sure if we have a fight coming up that we stay in quarantine to not mess anything up and be able to get in there to put on a show for the fans."
After tuning in to the ESPN boxing summer series, Smith Jr. says the circumstances will not faze him come fight night, "I have watched a few fights on ESPN. It's definitely different, but boxing is a lonely sport, when you're training it's only you and your trainer, that's it."
Joe Smith Jr.: Top 5 "BEAST" Moments
Alvarez vs Smith Jr. is promoted by Top Rank in association with Joe DeGuardia's Star Boxing, and Group Yvon Michel. The WBO Title Eliminator is set to take place August 22, live from The Bubble at MGM Grand, in Las Vegas, on ESPN +.
About Top Rank
Innovation has been the standard at Top Rank since it was established in 1966 by Hall of Fame promoter Bob Arum. The boxing industry’s leading promotional company, Top Rank has shaped, developed, and promoted the careers of top international pay-per-view superstars and Hall of Famers, including Muhammad Ali, Marvelous Marvin Hagler, Tommy Hearns, George Foreman, Sugar Ray Leonard, Aaron Pryor, Alexis Arguello, Oscar De La Hoya, Manny Pacquiao, Floyd Mayweather Jr., Miguel Cotto, Erik Morales, Terence Crawford, and Vasiliy Lomachenko.
Top Rank has promoted some of the most memorable fights in the sport’s history, including 26 Ali events, Leonard vs. Hearns, Pryor vs. Arguello, Duran vs. Leonard, Hagler vs. Hearns, Leonard vs. Hagler, Foreman vs. Holyfield, Morales vs. Barrera, De La Hoya vs. Trinidad, and the most lucrative fight in boxing history, Mayweather vs. Pacquiao. In addition to the previously mentioned super fights, Top Rank possesses one of the largest sports libraries, which includes nearly 10,000 fights.
Known for creating strategic collaborations between athletes, sponsors, and television networks, Top Rank has been an architect of boxing’s global growth by staging high-profile events in landmark settings around the world, including Madison Square Garden, MGM Grand Garden Arena, Staples Center, Wembley Arena, Araneta Coliseum, The Venetian Macao, Yankee Stadium, Radio City Music Hall, The “Fabulous” Forum, and AT&T Stadium. Top Rank has also been the leader within the boxing industry in creating unforgettable in-arena experiences for fans and embracing 21st century technological advancements to distribute world-class fights and shoulder programming across a variety of platforms.
About Star Boxing
Star Boxing, Inc. has been in operation since 1992. Founded by Joe DeGuardia, its President and CEO, Star Boxing has worked to produce some of the most exciting and memorable boxing events in recent history. Star has continued to work with and develop a number of very exciting world champions, world-rated contenders and young prospects. Star has consistently brought credibility, integrity, and exciting fights to the boxing industry. For more information on Star Boxing, visit the official website at starboxing.com.
Star Boxing is among the highest regarded and most rapidly expanding boxing organizations in the country. Its premier stature is reinforced by its ability to develop talent and maintain a high profile within the industry and with its broadcast affiliates. Star Boxing regularly stages and televises premium quality boxing matches throughout the world. The swift ascendancy of Star Boxing is largely attributable to the sporting expertise and innovative business vision of the organization’s founder and President, Joe DeGuardia. As the son of a professional prizefighter, DeGuardia can truly boast a lifetime association with the sport of boxing. DeGuardia grew up in the Bronx, learning boxing at his father’s neighborhood boxing gym. He fought his first official bout at the age of nine, and won the Golden Gloves Welterweight crown in 1988, one year before his graduation from law school. Following his admission to the bar, DeGuardia joined the Bronx District Attorney’s Office as a prosecutor. He then went on to develop a successful, Bronx-based independent law practice.
Notwithstanding his work as a lawyer, DeGuardia always remained professionally active in the boxing world. This involvement became a full-time dedication in 1990, when he took over management of the Morris Park Boxing Club from his father. In his new capacity as chief operator of the club, DeGuardia transformed the business into one of the busiest boxing gyms in New York, while also using it as a base from which to launch his larger business as a top boxing entrepreneur. Star Boxing, the organization that evolved out of DeGuardia’s broad experience in the boxing industry, works on a flexible business model which enables DeGuardia to develop and promote both exclusive boxing events and boxers, as well as to put together joint-sponsorship events with other major promoters. Thus, there are many different components to his portfolio of promotional ventures. Recently, Star Boxing events have been among the highest grossing, most successful events in boxing, further solidifying its position as one of the most reputable companies in the sport. Among Star’s promoted fighters and events, the Antonio Tarver vs. Roy Jones Jr. trilogy was one of the most successful trilogies in boxing history, generating over 50 million in revenue. Star Boxing shows have been broadcast on both internationally and nationally on Pay-Per-View, HBO, Showtime, ESPN, HDNet, Telemundo and MSG, as well as on the internet, through collaborative efforts with GoFightLive.TV.
Through his leadership of Star Boxing, DeGuardia has secured a reputation as among the youngest and most dynamic first-tier promoters in the business. In addition to the guidance of DeGuardia, Star has several high-level industry executives, including matchmaker Ron Katz who is widely considered one of the best matchmakers of all time. Star Boxing is also a proud member of the Boxing Promoters Association (BPA), which was formed in 2009, and is made up of over thirty of the top US Promoters. The BPA was the brainchild of DeGuardia, and his efforts in forming the organization were recognized by the fellow BPA Members, who elected DeGuardia President of the Association. Star Boxing will continue with groundbreaking shows and concepts in the years ahead, as it continues its role as an innovative leader in the exciting world of boxing.
ESPN+ is the multi-sport, direct-to-consumer video service from The Walt Disney Company’s Direct-to-Consumer and International (DTCI) segment and ESPN. It reached 2 million subscribers in less than a year and offers fans thousands of live events, on-demand content and original programming not available on ESPN’s linear TV or digital networks, along with premium editorial content.
Programming on ESPN+ includes hundreds of MLB and NHL games, exclusive UFC, Top Rank boxing and PFL fights and events, top domestic and international soccer (Serie A, MLS, FA Cup, UEFA Nations League, EFL Championship, EFL Carabao Cup, Eredivisie, and more), thousands of college sports events (including football, basketball and other sports), Grand Slam tennis, international and domestic rugby and cricket, new and exclusive series, acclaimed studio shows and the full library of ESPN’s award-winning 30 for 30 films. Fans subscribe to ESPN+ for just $4.99 a month (or $49.99 per year) and can cancel at any time.
ESPN+ is available as an integrated part of the ESPN App (on mobile and connected devices) and ESPN.com.
A Battle of Undefeated at the Bubble: “Action”
Anthony Laureano & Julian “Hammer Hands Rodriguez
Put Their Undefeated Records on the Line
On the Undercard of Joe Smith Jr. vs Eleider Alvarez
WBO Title Eliminator August 22nd!
(August 14th) An "0" must go on August 22 when undefeated East Hartford, Connecticut's, "ACTION" ANTHONY LAUREANO (13-0 4KO's) takes on Hoboken, New Jersey's, JULIAN "HAMMER HANDS" RODRIGUEZ (19-0 12KO's) in a scheduled 10-round super lightweight bout at The Bubble inside of MGM Grand in Las Vegas. The bout is set to take place on the undercard of the highly anticipated WBO World Title Eliminator between Long Island's Common Man and #4 world rated (WBO) light heavyweight, JOE "THE BEAST" SMITH JR. (25-3 20KO's) and #3 world (WBO) rated light heavyweight, ELEIDER "STORM" ALVAREZ (25-1 13KO's). Laureano, like Smith Jr., fights under the Star Boxing banner.
Laureano prides himself on his humble beginnings, but don't allow his constant smile to fool you, he comes to fight. "Action" Anthony rose the ranks of the New England amateur circuit, culminated by adding back to back Open Western Massachusetts Golden Glove Championship ('15, '16), as well as a 2016 New England Golden Gloves Championship, to his mantle. Turning pro in September of 2016, Laureano has not looked back, ripping off 13 consecutive wins. As a pro Laureano earned the ABO Continental America's super lightweight title, successfully defending the belt three-times, and was named 2018 Connecticut Boxing Hall of Fame Fighter of the Year. This will be the biggest fight of Laureano's career which has been nurtured by Star Boxing, developing him into a local fan favorite.
Laureano believes it's his turn to shine, "I want to show the world that faith moves mountains. I want to show everyone my heart and my grit. I will receive my blessing. You know you will see Action! I'm coming for mine! God is always good!"
NATE TORRES, Manager and Trainer of Laureano, commented, "We are very grateful for the opportunity to be fighting on such a great card. Anthony is prepared to put on a great show. We know Julian is a very good fighter and we have prepared as such. Our team is just as confident as they are. We are coming to win! It will be a great fight!"
Julian Rodriguez is considered one of the top prospects in the country. He amassed over 230 amateur fights winning the 2013 National Golden Gloves. At the age of 25, Rodriguez is a 6-year professional with skillset to back up his perfect record. After a 22-month layoff due to a shoulder injury, Rodriguez returned with vengeance in 2019, going 3-0 with two wins coming by way of knockout. Most recently Rodriguez laced them up at Madison Square Garden on the undercard of the Commey-Lopez IBF World title fight, where he dominated an 8-round decision over Manuel Mendez (80-71 x2, 79-72).
Star Boxing CEO, JOE DEGUARDIA, who has developed Laureano into a local fan favorite stated: "Anthony is truly an exciting warrior with a relentless style. He and his team have been seeking a big breakout fight and I am happy to give him this opportunity. Whenever Anthony is in the ring, there is guaranteed action and, considering Julian is a hard-hitting top prospect, I expect a thriller when they clash on August 22."
Catch up with ANTHONY LAUREANO'S past bouts ahead of #RodriguezLaurean
August 22: Rob Brant vs Vitaliy Kopylenko
The Return of “Clay Collard
Set for Alvarez-Smith Card Exclusively on ESPN+!
(August 12th) Former middleweight world champion Rob “Bravo” Brant’s comeback begins in a Las Vegas “Bubble.” Brant, who lost his belt to Ryota Murata last July and had a January return scrapped due to a torn biceps, will fight Vitaliy Kopylenko in a 10-round middleweight tilt Saturday, August 22 from the MGM Grand Conference Center.
Brant vs Kopylenko will serve as the co-feature to the Eleider-Alvarez vs Joe Smith Jr. light heavyweight world title eliminator live and exclusively on ESPN+ (10 p.m. ET).
The undercard stream (ESPN+, 7:30 p.m. ET) features the return of boxing’s newest cult hero, “Cassius” Clay Collard, the former UFC fighter who is the leading contender for 2020 Prospect of the Year.
“We have a can’t-miss main event and the highly anticipated returns of Rob Brant and Clay Collard. What a night at the fights inside the ‘Bubble,’” said Top Rank chairman Bob Arum. “Rob is rejuvenated and ready to begin his ascent towards another world title. As for Clay, whenever he fights, he delivers.”
Brant (25-2, 17 KOs) upset the odds in October 2018, defeating Murata by unanimous decision to win the WBA world title nearly one year removed from his loss to Jürgen Brähmer. He defended his world title once, then traveled to Murata’s home country of Japan intent on repeating the deed. Instead, Murata turned the tables, knocking out Brant in the second round of a slugfest that saw 354 punches thrown in 334 seconds of action. Following the Murata defeat, Brant hired a new trainer in Brian McIntyre, who is best known for his work with pound-for-pound king Terence “Bud” Crawford and WBO junior lightweight world champion Jamel “Semper Fi” Herring.
Kopylenko (28-2, 16 KOs), from Vasylkiv, Ukraine hopes to rebound from a May 2019 split decision loss to Steven Butler. Prior to the Butler loss, he’d won six consecutive bouts. A 12-year pro, Kopylenko advanced to the semifinals of the 2014 "Boxcino" middleweight tournament, which aired as part of the ESPN “Friday Night Fights” series.
“I have worked extremely hard, even though the current climate through the pandemic has been a bit hectic,” Brant said. “After physical therapy, I stayed focused on my nutrition, thanks to my wonderful wife, Tiffany, and began doing a lot of distance running until I was cleared to start punching again. I have been in camp for close to three months now and feel very strong and confident. Kopylenko is talented with a great body attack. I am very confident, but I respect his skill set and will prepare like this is a world title bout. I’m back!”
Collard (8-2-3, 3 KOs) will face Maurice Williams in a middleweight bout scheduled for eight or six rounds, his third “Bubble" appearance since June 18. Collard is 4-0 in 2020, including three victories over previously undefeated prospects. Williams (7-1, 3 KOs) has won five in a row since a fifth-round TKO loss to Dennis Knifechief in November 2016. He has since avenged his loss to Knifechief twice, including a third-round TKO victory.
“I just look at this as another fight. Nothing’s really changed other than the attention I’m getting," Collard said. "I’m loving all of this. I’m just training and getting ready to do what I love.
“I didn’t know how I’d like fighting without fans and being quarantined, but I enjoy fighting for Top Rank in the 'Bubble.' I’m just blessed to be part of this experience."
In other undercard action:
In a 10-round duel of unbeaten junior welterweights, Julian “Hammer Hands” Rodriguez (19-0, 12 KOs) will take on “Action” Anthony Laureano (13-0, 4 KOs). Rodriguez, a seven-year pro from Hasbrouck Heights, N.J., went 3-0 in 2019 following a nearly two-year layoff.
Star Boxing-promoted prospect Wendy Toussaint (11-0, 5 KOs) will take on “Bubble” veteran Isiah Jones (9-2, 3 KOs) in a middleweight fight scheduled for eight or six rounds. Jones, who went 1-1 inside the “Bubble” in June, is coming off a majority decision victory June 30 over the previously unbeaten Donte Stubbs.
In scheduled six-round contests, Robert Rodriguez (8-0-1, 4 KOs) will fight Abel Soriano (10-0, 7 KOs) at bantamweight, while knockout artist Israel Mercado (7-0, 7 KOs) will battle fellow California native Adrian Valdovinos (5-0-1, 4 KOs) at junior welterweight.
Former U.S. amateur star Duke Ragan, from Cincinnati, will make his long-awaited professional debut against Luis Alvarado (1-1) in a four-rounder at featherweight.
Undefeated Super Welterweight Wendy Toussaint
To Take On Detroit’s Isiah Jones On
The Joe Smith Jr. vs Eleider Alvarez
WBO Title Eliminator Undercard August 22nd!
(August 11th) Undefeated, Haitian born, Long Island super welterweight WENDY "HAITIAN FIRE" TOUSSAINT (11-0 5KO's) has been making a name for himself in the tri-state area since his pro-debut at Star Boxing's "Rockin' Fights" series.
Now, the 28-year old Toussaint will lace them up in Las Vegas for the first time in his toughest test to date, against Detroit's ISIAH JONES (9-2 3KO's). The bout will take place on the undercard of Toussaint's fellow Long Island sparring partner and Star Boxing stablemate, #4 world rated (WBO) light heavyweight, JOE "THE BEAST" SMITH JR.'s (25-3 2KO's) WBO World Title Eliminator against #3 world rated (WBO) light heavyweight, ELEIDER "STORM" ALVAREZ (25-1).
Toussaint has found dynamite in his hands as of late, winning five of his last six bouts by knockout. This past February, Toussaint took on the always tough Jermaine Corley at The Paramount. With his full arsenal on display, Toussaint disposed Corley via second round TKO after a vicious uppercut, followed by a right hand.
Toussaint had this to say about the opportunity, "I am ready to fight. I am always ready to fight. Nothing changes for me. The Haitian Fire is ready, anytime, anywhere."
Jones will be making his third straight appearance at The Bubble, against his fourth consecutive undefeated opponent. In his most recent bout, Jones earned a tough fought majority decision over previously unbeaten Donte Stubbs. The 26-year-old Detroit native will look to keep the momentum on August 22.
"Wendy is a talented boxer," said Star Boxing CEO JOE DEGUARDIA, "he has a very high ring IQ and power in both hands. He has tremendous potential. Jones will be a great test for Wendy."
The Archives: Wendy "Haitian Fire" Toussaint Highlights
Toussaint vs Corley | Rockin' Fights 38 | February 28, 2020
Toussaint vs Mohammed | Rockin' Fights 29 | January 26, 2018
Trouble In The Bubble: WBO World Title Eliminator
Marks Top Rank’s Return to the MGM Grand “Bubble"
Eleider Alvarez and Joe Smith Jr.
Face Off in Light Heavyweight Title Eliminator
August 22nd LIVE on ESPN+!
(July 30th) Leave the judges at home because Eleider “Storm” Alvarez and Joe “The Beast” Smith Jr. are coming for the knockout.
Alvarez and Smith will face off in a WBO light heavyweight world title eliminator in Top Rank’s return to the MGM Grand Conference Center Saturday, Aug. 22. Promoted by Top Rank, in association with Joe DeGuardia’s Star Boxing and Groupe Yvon Michel (GYM), Alvarez vs. Smith and a co-feature will stream LIVE on ESPN+ starting at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT.
“I can’t wait to sit back and watch this fight, which features two of the light heavyweight division’s biggest punchers,” said Top Rank chairman Bob Arum. “It’s a 50-50 fight and a great way to kick off our return to MGM Grand.”
Said Alvarez, “This fight is critical for both of our careers. I respect Joe Smith, who has proven to be an elite fighter. However, I have all the tools to beat him, and that's what I intend to do. My goal is to become a two-time light heavyweight world champion.”
Said Smith, “This fight means everything to me. It’s my path to a world title fight, and I know this is my second chance to turn my dream into reality. Alvarez is a former world champion, and in my mind, I am treating this as a world title fight. To get there, I have to, and will, win this fight."
Alvarez (25-1, 13 KOs) is a former Colombian Olympian who has made Montreal his home since turning pro in 2009. He gained widespread recognition following victories over Lucian Bute and Jean Pascal, but his August 2018 knockout win over longtime champion Sergey Kovalev earned him the WBO light heavyweight world title and recognition as one of the world’s top fighters. Alvarez lost a decision to Kovalev in a rematch the following February, but after recovering from a foot injury, he returned stronger than ever. He headlined a Top Rank on ESPN main event January 18 and knocked out Michael Seals with a single right hand. The knockout, an instant viral video sensation, became an early frontrunner for Knockout of the Year.
Smith (25-3, 20 KOs), from Long Island, rose to prominence in 2016 as the construction worker member of the Laborers Local 66 union who knocked out top contender Andrzej Fonfara and living legend Bernard Hopkins in back-to-back fights. He fell short in his only world title shot, a March 2019 decision defeat to WBA champion Dmitry Bivol. The Bivol fight was a minor hiccup, as he returned in January and neutralized Jesse Hart over 10 one-sided rounds in a Top Rank on ESPN main event in Atlantic City. Smith, who now owns and operates a residential tree service company on Long Island, hopes to punch his ticket to another title shot. A win over Alvarez will assure him of that opportunity.
Joe DeGuardia, Smith’s promoter, said, "I just love watching Joe Smith Jr. fight. He is a true throwback, a fan-favorite with tremendous punching power. It will be thrilling to see him against Alvarez, who is one of the top fighters in the game. Not only will boxing fans see two of the toughest light heavyweights battle it out in a fight that will ultimately determine the WBO world champion, but this has all the makings of the Fight of the Year.”