Strictly Business Boxing
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Joe Smith Jr. Edges Maxim Vlasov

To Win WBO Light Heavyweight Title!

(April 11th) Joe Smith Jr., the common man with the common name, finally reached boxing's apex. Smith used a furious late rally to edge Maxim Vlasov by majority decision and win the vacant WBO light heavyweight world title Saturday evening at Osage Casino in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The scorecards — 114-114, 115-113 and 115-112 — represented the nip-and-tuck nature of the bout.

 

Smith (27-3, 21 KOs), from Long Island, New York, swept the last two rounds on the cards to pull out the victory and joins promotional stablemate Jamel Herring as a Long Island-born world champion. He now sets his sights on the division's other champions, including WBC/IBF king Artur Beterbiev.

 

Vlasov (45-4, 26 KOs), from Samara Russia, saw his three-bout winning streak come to an end.

 

Smith said, “It’s a great feeling. It was definitely a close, tough fight. I give it to Vlasov. Great fighter. He really put on a great show tonight and toughed it out. I believe that round where I hurt him there… I believe he had his head down, and I should’ve got the knockout. I think I would’ve got the stoppage in {the 11th} round, but he pulled it off and made it out on his feet. I believe I got the victory tonight because they saw I landed the harder shots. He landed a lot of punches. It was a great fight.

 

“I want the other belts. I want the big fights out there. Now I gotta get back in the gym and keep working on my technique and stuff. I believe I’m going to start unifying belts.”

 

Vlasov disagrees with Smith's assessment of the fight and believes the world title should be going home to Russia.

 

“This was a very hard-fought, competitive fight," Vlasov said. "I thought I was winning rounds and was well ahead. Against the aggressive style of Joe Smith, I came forward the entire fight. I felt confident I was winning and was securing rounds in the bank with the judges. I never felt that I was behind at any stage of the fight. This was my opportunity to show the world I was a world champion, and I did that, and Joe Smith knows I did that.”

Ajagba Obliterates Howard

Efe Ajagba (15-0, 12 KOs) just crashed the heavyweight contender parade. The 2016 Nigerian Olympian sent Brian Howard into another orbit with a crunching right hand. Howard twisted, fell face first, and the bout was immediately stopped. Ajagba had not fought since last September's decision win over Jonathan Rice, but he re-established his place among the world's top young heavyweights. At 26 years old, time is on his side.

 

Ajagba said, “I felt good. I tried to pick the punches, use the jab. This guy is very slick sometimes. I tried to do the job. He was shaky, so when I went back to the corner after the first round, my coach told me to take my time, start with the body, leave the head.

 

“I trained for this fight, took my time, started with my boxing foundation, and came back strong. This camp was the best one for me, the best camp ever in my boxing career.

 

 “It’s my time to shine, so I’m coming for the heavyweights.”

 

In undercard bouts:

Heavyweight: Jared Anderson (9-0, 9 KOs) KO2 Jeremiah Karpency (16-3-1, 6 KOs), :34. Anderson, the 21-year-old prodigy from Toledo, added another speedy knockout to his highlight reel, this time using a body attack to end things early. He knocked down Karpency with a body blow at the end of the first round, then ended things with another right hand to the body early in the second round.

 

Anderson said,  “I knew he was going to find a spot to fall. I respect him for getting in there and showing up today. It’s a man’s sport. I’m just grateful to be here, thankful for the opportunity.

 

“I {saw} the shot. His hands kept going up. I kept throwing my jab, looking for openings, feinting, moving around the ring, and it just came. It was a good shot, and he didn’t want to get back up.

 

“Everybody who says they’re the biggest and the baddest, come see ‘Big ‘Baby’ then.

 

“I want to thank Toledo, my city. A lot of them came out to Oklahoma, and I wanted to put on a show for them. I can’t wait for what is next.

 

Junior Lightweight: Albert Bell (18-0, 5 KOs) UD8 Manuel Rey Rojas (20-5, 6 KOs). Scores: 78-74 3x. Toledo's Bell used his length and reach to keep the shorter Rojas at bay and ultimately cruised to a one-sided decision. Bell, who outlanded Rojas 114-94, is ranked in the top 15 by two of the major sanctioning organizations.

 

Junior Lightweight: Robson Conceicao (16-0, 8 KOs) TKO7 Jesus Antonio Ahumada (17-4 11 KOs), 1:20. 2016 Olympic gold medalist Conceicao, from Bahia, Brazil, put forth a workmanlike performance and beat down Mexican veteran Ahumada. After a knockdown in the seventh, referee Gary Ritter saw enough and saved Ahumada from further carnage.

 

Heavyweight: Trey Lippe Morrison (17-0, 17 KOs) TKO 3 Jason Bergman (2-3, 2 KOs), 1:27. Lippe Morrison, son of the late heavyweight Tommy Morrison, returned from a nearly two-year layoff and stopped veteran Bergman in a crowd-pleasing slugfest. Bergman appeared to knock down Morrison in the first, but the referee missed the knockdown call. In the third, Bergman rolled his ankle and could continue, and Morrison was awarded the TKO victory.

 

Featherweight: Duke Ragan (4-0, 1 KO) UD6 Charles Clark (3-7,-1 1 KO). Scores: 60-54 3x. In his first fight away from the confines of the MGM Grand Las Vegas Bubble, Cincinnati's Ragan outboxed Clark and won every round on all three judges' scorecards. Through four pro bouts, Ragan has yet to lose a round.

 

Heavyweight: Jeremiah Milton (3-0, 3 KOs) TKO1 Jayvone Dafney (2-3, 2 KOs), 1:19. Tulsa native Milton had a successful homecoming, icing Dafney in the opening round with a right hand as Daffney was backed up against the ropes. A dazed Dafney could not respond, and the referee called the bout off.

 

Heavyweight: Sonny Conto (7-0, 6 KOs) KO1 Waldo Cortes (6-4, 3 KO), 1:41. Welcome back, Sonny! In his first fight in 15 months, South Philadelphia native Conto put Cortes down for the 10-count with a sweeping right hand. Conto has now won three straight by first-round stoppage.

 

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.

 

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 ESPN+

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.

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