Strictly Business Boxing
Strictly Business Boxing

Danny “El Gallo” Gonzalez Set To Fight Petros Ananayan On The Lopez vs Kambosos Undercard

Monday October 4th At The Hulu Theatre, MSG!

(September 16th) Star Boxing is pleased to announce that on Monday, October 4, 2021, "The World's Most Famous Arena" will play host to an important junior welterweight clash between DANNY "EL GALLO" GONZALEZ (Woodhaven, New York 20-2-1 7KO's) and PETROS ANANYAN (Brooklyn, NY 15-2-2 7KO's) as a victory for either fighter will significantly boost them in the junior welterweight rankings.

 

The Gonzalez / Ananyan will be featured on the undercard of the unified lightweight world championship bout between champion, TEOFIMO LOPEZ (Brooklyn, NY 16-0 12KO's) and Australian, GEORGE KAMBOSOS (Sydney, Australia 19-0 10KO's).

 

The bout on Triller Fight Club is presented in association with DiBella Entertainment and Joe DeGuardia's Star Boxing, advance tickets priced at $306, $206, $106, $81 and $56. The event will be broadcast live on Pay-Per-View priced at $49.99 available globally through FITE.TV and on traditional cable/satellite via iNDemand.

(Rockin' Fights 35: Danny "El Gallo" Gonzalez vs Jerome "Conqueror" Conquest)

Gonzalez has won his last three consecutive bouts in dominating fashion, collecting the WBC FECARDBOX Super Lightweight Title along the way. Last time Gonzalez was seen at the Hulu Theatre at MSG in January of 2019, he took former WBO world champion, and Star Boxing stablemate, CHRIS ALGIERI (25-3 9KO's) to the wire over 10-rounds, falling short by decision.

 

Gonzalez believes this learning experience changed him as a fighter, "I feel like a completely different fighter and person. I'm ready to show the world who I am and what I can do in boxing. I've been in the gym for 15 years grinding. I am ready to put on a show and bring all out war. My team and I have been working hard for months, getting better, stronger and faster."

 

As for his return to MSG, Gonzalez had this to say, "I am excited to be part of a major card at the famous Madison Square Garden. I've been waiting a long time to return to MSG. I've fought there before and the energy is one of a kind. I know how to use that to perform at my best."

 

Ananyan is a native of Russia, currently residing in Brooklyn, New York. He is no stranger to taking care of business abroad, securing victories in Canada, Spain and Latvia. This will be Ananyan's third bout in the US, and his first in New York. Most recently, Ananyan toppled formerly undefeated SUBRIEL MATIAS (then 15-0) at the MGM Grand on the undercard of Wilder-Fury II. Ananyan will look carry that momentum with him on October 4, propelling him to a victory over Gonzalez.

 

Star Boxing CEO JOE DEGUARDIA echoed Gonzalez's sentiment, "Danny learned a tremendous amount from his bout against Chris Algieri in 2019. He took that experience and built off of it and really found a new level to his game because of it. Danny always comes in phenomenal shape, and we are excited to get him this opportunity to shine on Triller Fight Club, on the undercard of Lopez-Kambosos."

 

ABOUT STAR BOXING ®: For over a quarter century Star Boxing has consistently delivered boxing events of the highest canight liber that attract loyal fans from all corners of the globe.  Star Boxing has promoted events at practically every locale and on every network. From the Antonio Tarver - Roy Jones trilogy to the meteoric rise of Chris Algieri and Joe Smith Jr. through the critically acclaimed Rockin' Fights Paramount Series, Star Boxing continues to develop world rated contenders and red-hot prospects into future world champions. Founded by its Hall of Fame promoter, Joe DeGuardia, an attorney, former boxer and respected boxing leader, Star Boxing has become revered worldwide throughout the industry for its credibility, integrity, and exciting fights.

Star Boxing’s “Rockin Fights” Returns

With A Roar Alex “El Toro” Vargas

Improves To 11-0 With Shutout Victory!

(all photo's Star Boxing/ Sal Acquista)

(September 4th) It was a long 19-month COVID hiatus, but Star Boxing’s “Rockin’ Fights” series came back with a roar last night at the Paramount in Huntington, Long Island. The packed house was rowdy and ready for boxing’s return to Long Island from the opening bell of the evening.

 

Bellport, Long Island’s undefeated super lightweight Alex “El Toro” Vargas (11-0 4KO’s) was thrust into prime time role as his fight against Colombian, Alejandro Munera (6-3-4 5KO’s) was elevated to the main event, when the Seldin-Vazquez fight was called off due to Vazquez failing a medical.  Vargas did not let the bright lights scare him as he dominated the fight from the first punch. The crowd, filled with purple “El Toro” t-shirts, was loud and proud, chanting for Vargas.

 

Vargas displayed excellent boxing skill, putting together combinations, and keeping Munera on his heels. In the middle rounds Vargas began sitting on his punches, causing a cut over the nose of Munera. Munera was game, standing tall, taking Vargas’ punishment and attempting to return the favor. Unfortunately for Munera, his bravery would not be enough, as Vargas dominated the fight, winning by a shutout unanimous decision (60-54 x3). Vargas improved to 11-0.

On the undercard, NY firefighter, Louis Maietta (Bronx, NY) and Perez Aughtry (Buffalo, NY 0-2) battled it out over 4-Rounds in their light heavyweight tilt. Both Maietta and Aughtry came out slugging and did not stop until the final bell. Maietta-Aughtry had the fans on their feet the entirety of the fight. At the close of the bout, the judges scored the bout a majority draw. Post-fight, Maietta and Aughtry exchanged words that spilled onto social media. Both seem to be on a collision course for a rematch.

 

Boca Raton’s, Miranda “She Hulk” Barber (2-2) took it right to Ayanna Tramont (Buffalo 1-1 1KO) mauling her way inside, and dropping Tramont two times before the referee stopped the fight right after the bell sounded to signify the end of the first round. Barber improved to 2-2.

 

Star Boxing Boss, Joe DeGuardia had this to say about the return of Rockin’ Fights, “This was a fight night we had been looking forward to for so long, and couldn’t be happier that it finally came. It was great to fill the Paramount with fans who had been in much need of an entertaining night out, capped off by a dominating win from Alex Vargas. Another Rockin’ Fights is in the books and we look forward to being back at the Paramount on November 11.”

           

ABOUT ROCKIN' FIGHTS

Created in 2011, the "Rockin' Fights" series has developed elite boxing talent and has produced current WBO Light Heavyweight World Champion, the "Common Man", JOE "THE BEAST" SMITH JR. (Mastic, Long Island 27-3 21KO's) and former WBO Super Lightweight World Champion, CHRIS ALGIERI (Huntington, NY 24-3 9KO'S), two of only four Long Island World Champions EVER.

 

ABOUT THE PARAMOUNT:

Since Opening in September 2011, The Paramount has become a top live entertainment venue. Located in Huntington, Long Island, New York; The Paramount - in concert with TD Bank, America's Most Convenient Bank® - hosts a variety of concerts, comedy, boxing and other special events. Booked by Live Nation and utilizing Ticketmaster ticketing; The Paramount hosts an average of 200 events per year. In less than 5 years since opening, The Paramount has quickly established itself as the premier live venue on Long Island - the 20th largest U.S. media market (*2.5M HH-Arbitron: Nassau/Suffolk MSA). Pollstar Magazine ranked The Paramount as the #11 club venue worldwide (*Att. Q3 '15). With almost 70k+ Facebook fans & 10k+ Twitter followers, the venue was also ranked by Billboard Magazine as the "23rd Hottest Club" in 2014.

Algieri Dominates Lespierre On Thriller!

(August 4th) The Mecca of boxing was alive and well last night, filled with the wholesome sound of cheers once more as fans poured into the Hulu Theatre at MSG for the Triller Fight Club card seen live on FITE.TV.  Long Island’s own former WBO Champion of the World, CHRIS ALGIERI (now 25-3 9KO’s), made his ring return for the first time in over 2 years, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, against tough southpaw, and fellow New Yorker, MIKKEL LESPIERRE (now 22-3-1 10KO’s).

 

From the opening bell, Algieri looked sharp. In custom form, Algieri stayed active throughout the entire bout, throwing 910 punches over the 10-round distance. The fight saw Algieri showcase his boxing IQ, experience and ring-generalship, turning LesPierre on multiple occasions, blocking, parrying, slipping punches and countering with a sustained body and head attack.

 

In the third-round, Algieri landed a right-hand flush on the jaw of LesPierre, but to LesPierre’s credit, he took it and marched on. Algieri took full control of the bout in the fourth round, throwing a flurry of punches, keeping LesPierre on his heels. From that point on, Algieri simply dominated.

 

LesPierre did land a right hook and straight left with seconds remaining in the sixth-round, but Algieri took it well and continued with his victorious game plan. A right-left combination in the ninth-round hurt LesPierre, leading to an all-out assault that saw Algieri throw nearly 30 consecutive punches.  LesPierre remained standing and finished the ten-round bout.  Algieri pretty much swept the entire fight, winning every round on two scorecards in his dominating unanimous decision victory (100-90 x2, 99-91). With the win, Algieri takes another step towards his ultimate goal of fighting for another world title, creating opportunity for bigger fights in the near future.

 

Chris had this to say about his victory, "I'm thrilled to be back. After a few rounds I really felt at home. I wanted the feather in my cap of being the first guy to get a stoppage [against LesPierree] and almost got it- but ultimately I’m happy with my performance... I didn’t want an easy fight back. Mikk is a really solid, class fighter who came in great shape. I showed that I’m a different class and deserve bigger fights in the very near future.”

Star Boxing CEO, JOE DEGUARDIA echoed Algieri's sentiment, "From start to finish, Chris performed at a world class level boxing. Mikkel is a tough veteran fighter, but Chris fought very sharply and broke Mikkel down like the true seasoned pro he is. With this win, Chris is right back in the fold in the super lightweight division, and we are actively exploring the biggest opportunities out there for him." DeGuardia continued, "Congratulations to Triller, Verzuz and Ryan Kavanaugh on a fantastic show. It was great to see Madison Square Garden filled with happy fans again. The event was truly vibrant"

REWIND "ROCKIN' FIGHTS" 38 (February 28, 2020)

Rockin' Fights 38: Cletus Seldin vs Luis Flores NABA Title Bout

CLETUS "THE HEBREW HAMMER" SELDIN returned to the Paramount to face off with late replacement LUIS FLORES in a WAR for the NABA Super Lightweight Title.

Rockin' Fights 38: Carlos Takam vs Fabio Maldonado

Heavyweight contender CARLOS TAKAM made his Paramount debut when he took on tough Brazilian, FABIO MALDONADO over 10-rounds in the heavyweight division

ABOUT STAR BOXING ®:

For over a quarter century Star Boxing has consistently delivered boxing events of the highest caliber that attract loyal fans from all corners of the globe.  Star Boxing has promoted events at practically every locale and on every network. From the Antonio Tarver - Roy Jones trilogy to the meteoric rise of Chris Algieri and Joe Smith Jr. through the critically acclaimed Rockin' Fights Paramount Series, Star Boxing continues to develop world rated contenders and red-hot prospects into future world champions. Founded by its Hall of Fame promoter, Joe DeGuardia, an attorney, former boxer and respected boxing leader, Star Boxing has become revered worldwide throughout the industry for its credibility, integrity, and exciting fights.

 

ABOUT THE PARAMOUNT:

Since Opening in September 2011, The Paramount has become a top live entertainment venue. Located in Huntington, Long Island, New York; The Paramount - in concert with TD Bank, America's Most Convenient Bank® - hosts a variety of concerts, comedy, boxing and other special events. Booked by Live Nation and utilizing Ticketmaster ticketing; The Paramount hosts an average of 200 events per year. In less than 5 years since opening, The Paramount has quickly established itself as the premier live venue on Long Island - the 20th largest U.S. media market (*2.5M HH-Arbitron: Nassau/Suffolk MSA). Pollstar Magazine ranked The Paramount as the #11 club venue worldwide (*Att. Q3 '15). With almost 70k+ Facebook fans & 10k+ Twitter followers, the venue was also ranked by Billboard Magazine as the "23rd Hottest Club" in 2014.

Thrilling Joyce / Takam Heavyweight

Fight Prematurely Stopped

With Takam Leading On All Cards!

(July 25th) In what was a spectacular 5 rounds, CARLOS TAKAM traveled to the UK, the home of opponent and undefeated heavyweight JOE JOYCE, as a 7-1 underdog and took the fight right to the man known as “The Juggernaut" for the WBO International, WBC Silver and Commonwealth Heavyweight Championships.

Takam immediately found a home for his overhand right, setting up the power punch with stiff jabs to the body. In the first two rounds, Takam was agile on his feet while throwing two and three punch combinations to the head and body of Joyce. A back and forth third round, saw Takam continue his assault with the same overhand right that seemed to land every time it was thrown, while Joyce finally began to establish his jab, and dug to the body. Takam’s right hand began causing swelling under Joyce’s eye.

 

The thrilling action continued in the fourth and fifth round, with Takam maintaining he lead.

 

In the sixth round, Joyce came out of his corner quickly and hurt Takam.  Joyce rocked Takam and sensing an opportunity, put together sequence of punches as Takam parried, slipped and blocked in an attempt to avoid the onslaught.  Although Takam seemed alert and able to defend himself, he didn’t return punches and referee Steve Gray stopped the fight.  The stoppage was premature in the eyes of an outraged Takam, who immediately protested the stoppage. As the fight was waved off, the shocked and disappointed Takam was shouting ‘why, why, why’ to the referee.  It was an exceptionally entertaining heavyweight fight that Carlos Takam and the fans that filled the SSE Arena wanted to see continue.    At the time of the stoppage Takam was up on all three judges’ scorecards.

Carlos Takam had this to say on the premature stoppage, “Joe Joyce was punching at me yes, but I see that he was getting really tired, so I tried to keep my hands up, that was my strategy, to come back after he was tired and put him out. He stopped the fight and I ask [the ref] why? Why? I used my experience, I know what I am doing, but he stopped the fight.” Takam felt that Joyce was punching himself out in the sixth round barrage and was planning a counterattack.

 

CEO of Star Boxing JOE DEGUARDIA was disappointed in the outcome, “[Takam] was alert. You could see in his eyes he was aware of what was going on, and was defending himself.  While certainly a factor, it’s not just about whether a fighter is throwing punches back.  When you have an experienced veteran fighter like Carlos, who is clearly winning an important heavyweight fight, it’s important to get it right.  The referee must also know who is in that ring, his acumen, experience, basically his ring generalship.  These are things that must be taken into consideration in order to make the right call.  Unfortunately for Carlo’s tonight, we believe the wrong decision was made and that he was alert and defending himself while waiting to launch his counter-attack at the right precise moment.  We think a rematch is warranted.”

 

As for what’s next for Carlos Takam, that remains to be seen. He once again established that he can go toe to toe with the top heavyweights in the world.

Joe Smith Jr. Earns WBO Title

In War With Russian Maxim Vlasov!

(April 11th) Years of union construction work and tree trimming, while maintaining a dedication to his craft, came full circle on Saturday night when Long Island’s “Common Man” JOE SMITH JR. (27-3 21KO’s) cemented his legacy in boxing history by defeating MAXIM VLASOV (46-4 26KO’s), being crowned the new WBO Light Heavyweight Champion of the World.

 

In front of a rowdy Long Island filled crowd, Smith Jr. and Vlasov went toe to toe at the Osage Casino, in Tulsa, Oklahoma for the vacant WBO strap. Vlasov started fast out of the gate, pressuring Smith and maintaining distance with a pest like jab. Smith would be cut over his eye, late in the first round, which seemingly took him time to regain his composure.

 

The pace of the fight was relentless, as Vlasov used jittery upper body movement to keep Smith’s sledgehammer hands at bay for the early part of the fight. But the 'Common Man' would not be denied, and began landing with bad intentions. In the third round, Smith landed a flush right cross that staggered the Russian, who managed to cling on for the remainder of the round.

 

In the seventh round, Smith may have had his best combination of the fight, landing a right followed by a monster left, which stumbled Vlasov and had him on weak legs for the remainder of the round. Vlasov showed poise and experience, managing to tie up and keep himself upright.

 

Vlasov came out in the 9th and 10th round with vengeance, forcing Smith to fight off his heels. However, in the championship rounds Smith, strapped up his boots and got to work. The 11th saw Smith dig violent punches to the body. After a flurry of punches Vlasov took a knee, but it was not ruled a knockdown by the referee, stating that the punch was to the back of the head. The delay in the return to action may have saved the Russian from a knockout stoppage, but Smith would not let it deter him from leaving everything he had in the ring, knowing one more round could very well determine his fate as a champion.

 

The final round saw Smith in full on attack mode - a nod to his incredible conditioning. In the final ten seconds, Smith unloaded every punch he had left, closing out a wildly entertaining light heavyweight championship fight. Joe Smith would go on to be crowned as the WBO Light Heavyweight Champion of the World by majority decision (114-114 Draw, 115-113 Smith, 115-112 Smith).

 

Here’s what Smith had to say on his crowning achievement, “It’s a great feeling,” Smith said. “It was definitely a close, tough, tough fight. Vlasov is a great fighter and he really put on a great show tonight and toughed it out. In that [11th] round I hurt him, I believe he stuck his head down and I should have gotten the knockdown. I believe I would have gotten the stoppage. ... I landed the bigger, harder shots, but he landed a lot of punches, too. It was a great fight.”

Star Boxing CEO JOE DEGUARDIA had this to say about the World Title bout, “What a gritty performance from non-other than the blue collar hero himself, Joe Smith. All of us at Star Boxing are so proud of the effort he put forth in this fight. We also tip our hat to Maxim Vlasov for an incredible effort. It was not an easy fight, but like any true champion, he bit down and found that champion inside of him, especially during the 'Championship' rounds. Joe is in a position to have some mega opportunities in 2021, but first we want to let him finally enjoy that honeymoon!”

 

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.

Smith Jr. Recaps His Rise

To the Top Of Light Heavyweight Division!

(April 6th) This Saturday night (April 10th), JOE “THE BEAST” SMITH JR. (26-3 21KO’S) will challenge for the vacant WBO World Light Heavyweight Title in the main event on ESPN against Russian veteran, MAXIM VLASOV (45-3 26KO’s). The fight was rescheduled from February 13, to April 10, due to Vlasov testing positive for COVID-19.

 

The WBO world title is up for grabs after it was vacated by pound for pound star, Canelo Alvarez in December of 2019 after he knocked out then champion, Sergey Kovalev.  Now on April 10th, live on ESPN, Joe Smith Jr. will be seeking to win the World Championship and further solidify his increasing reputation as one of the top and most fan-beloved light-heavyweights in the world.

 

The “Common Man,” as he is affectionately known as, Joe Smith Jr. sat down with us and recapped his rise to the top of the light heavyweight division ahead next Saturday’s world title bid.

 

As an amateur, Smith Jr. won the coveted 2008 New York State Golden Gloves, defeating his rival Sean Monaghan. Smith Jr. decided to turn pro just one year later, hoping to use the momentum from his major Golden Gloves victory. Following his pro debut, Smith Jr. made appearances in the metro area, including, Resorts World Casino in Queens, NY, Roseland Ballroom, The Paramount in Huntington, and Barclays Center. While gaining exposure and being built up locally, Smith Jr. remained a relative unknown in the boxing scene outside of the metro area.

 

That all changed on June 18, 2016 when Star Boxing CEO and NY Hall of Fame promoter, JOE DEGUARDIA brought the opportunity of a lifetime for “The Beast,” against ANDRZEJ FONFARA in Chicago for the WBC International Light Heavyweight Title.  Smith Jr. would shock the boxing world when he destroyed the heavy Polish 20-1 favorite with a first round TKO.

 

You beat Fonfara as a 18-1 underdog, what was that like for you?

“That was a night I will never forget. The crowd was really loud, and there were a lot of Fonfara fans there, that I was able to make my fans. I knew I could beat him, I really believed it. We realized that [Fonfara] left himself open when he punched, and that’s what I looked for.”

 

Later that year, the Smith Jr. train continued into what was dubbed the #Final1, as living boxing legend, BERNARD HOPKINS, hand-picked Smith Jr. as his opponent for the curtain call of his legendary career. However, the upset minded Smith had other plans, knocking Hopkins out of the ring, onto the Forum floor, in one of the most spectacular and memorable knockouts in recent boxing history.

The nickname, “The Common Man,” started appearing around the Hopkins fight, why was that?

“Well it actually began during the press conference against Hopkins. Hopkins was crafty and used whatever he could to get an advantage. At the press conference he started yelling and screaming and basically said that he was special, and I was just common. My promoter Joe DeGuardia started talking about how I was proud to be a ‘Common Man’ and a working laborer. All of that is true and it kind of stuck. But I think I took care of that (slight by Hopkins) when I knocked him out of the ring.  About a year later I saw Hopkins at the BWAA awards dinner, and he said to me, ‘hey Joe get over here so we can talk about that push.’   I think I earned a lot of respect from him and everyone else that fight.”

 

Was it your goal to go in there and be the first fighter to knock Hopkins out?

“Yea, I wanted to be the first guy to knock him out, but I must say, [Hopkins] is one tough guy man. I hit him with some clean hard shots, and he was still there, punching back. When I had him against the ropes, I hit him with a right hand that I saw basically had him out on his feet, before I hit him with a left hand that sent him out of the ring.”

 

After fighting nine-rounds with a broken jaw on HBO against Sullivan Barrera at the Forum, then devouring Melvin Russell in the first round at Mohegan Sun on NESN, Smith Jr. would get the opportunity to fight for his first world title against Russian technician DMITRY BIVOL.

 

What did you learn from the Bivol fight?

“The Bivol fight taught me a lot about myself. I realized that to win at that level, I needed to have better movement, and be more fluid. I needed to stay busier and be more focused the whole time, not just looking for one big shot. I wish I would have started faster in that fight.”

 

Speaking of one big shot, you landed a massive right hand at the nd of the tenth-round. Do you ever re-watch that clip and think to yourself, if only I had ten more seconds?

“Oh yes I do. I watch the clip of that every time. If I just pushed myself harder from the beginning, I think I could have won that fight. Maybe winning this title on April 10th will help me get back to that fight again.”

 

Bouncing back from the Bivol fight, Smith Jr. dominated in a due or die challenge against then #1 rated light heavyweight JESSE HART on ESPN for the WBO NABO Title. There was a lot of bad blood leading up to the fight, as Hart, a Philadelphia native, felt he had to make up for what Smith did to his mentor and fellow Philly native, Bernard Hopkins, four years prior.

Hart seemed to really take your fight personally talking about how he was going to knock you out in honor of his mentor Bernard Hopkins. What did you think about that?

“He was one of those guys that was making someone else’s problems his. He was telling me he was going to knock me out, and that he had more knockouts than me, and I think at the time he only had one more knockout than me. He said at the bell he was going to come right to me and fight, so the bell rang and I ran to the middle of the ring and he started dancing around me like a ballerina and I said, ‘Dude I thought you were going to come to fight.’”

 

In August of 2020, coming off of the Hart victory, Smith Jr. was in the finals of the WBO World Title eliminator, against then #1 rated light heavyweight and former world champion, ELIEDER ALVAREZ on ESPN in the Bubble at the MGM Grand. Conjuring his inner 2016, Smith Jr. tore up and dominated Alvarez, culminating in a ninth-round TKO, sending Alvarez through the ropes, similar to the knockout of Hopkins.

You were the underdog again against Alvarez. Some analysts had you as a very live dog which proved to be true. How did you handle being the underdog in this fight?

 “I don’t mind being the underdog. You have to know your skill and know that you can always win. Going into that fight was different because it was at the Bubble, and there were no fans, but I didn’t mind it because there were no distractions at all.”

 

Alvarez was the second consecutive #1 light heavyweight and favored fighter that you fought in 2020. Does that play in your mind at all leading up to a fight?

“Anybody is a dangerous opponent. I was confident in both fights, but there is always that thought in your head that this guy can beat you. Anybody can lose, but as long as you work hard and do what you need to do, you will win. That’s what I think. I can beat anybody anywhere, anytime.”

 

Looking forward to 2021, Smith Jr. is set to challenge for a world title for the second time. No longer a secret in the boxing world, Smith Jr. enters April 10 on ESPN against Russian veteran, Maxim Vlasov, for the vacant WBO World Title. Smith Jr. will look to bring the world title back to Long Island, setting himself up for major opportunities later in 2021.

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