Nearly two months after breaking his jaw, Smith Jr. is ready to continue climb

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (Feb. 28, 2012) – Light heavyweight prospect Joe Smith Jr. knew something was wrong during his bout against hard-hitting Eddie Caminero in August of 2010. He just had no idea how serious it was.

“The pain just started to take over,” recalled the 22-year-old Long Island native. “I couldn’t close my mouth. I couldn’t even bite down on my mouthpiece.”

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By the time Caminero finished Smith (7-1, 7 KOs) for good via technical knockout with two seconds remaining in the fourth round – the first and only loss of Smith’s career – Smith had suffered a broken jaw on both sides of his mouth, an injury that left him with his jaw wired shut for six weeks.

“They had to put in plates and screws on both sides,” he said. “It completely snapped in half.”

Determined to finish the fight, Smith battled for another round after breaking his jaw in the third, but the increasing pain was too much to overcome. Following the loss, Smith spent the next 11 months recovering before returning triumphantly in July with a win over Santos Martinez in Brooklyn.

With the rust finally gone, Smith is ready to step back into the ring Friday, March 30th, 2012 at the Foxwoods Resort Casino’s MGM Grand Theater on the undercard of Jimmy Burchfield’s Classic Entertainment & Sports’ “All In” professional boxing event, which will air live as part of ESPN2’s “Friday Night Fights” telecast.

Smith shook off the cobwebs in his second-round knockout win over Martinez, but talk of the injury still hits close to home. Some doubted whether he’d ever return to the ring, but Smith always believed, as evident by the fact he was back in the gym only three weeks after having his jaw wired shut.

“I wasn’t allowed to do too much because I couldn’t put strain on my body. The doctors didn’t want the wires to break,” Smith said, “but I didn’t want to quit. Once it healed up, I was back in there working as quickly as possible.”

Unable to eat solid foods for almost two months, Smith lost close to 30 pounds, dropping from his typical fight weight of 175 to 180 pounds to as low as 150 by the time his jaw was unwired.

“Luckily, it came back to me quickly,” he said. “I had to eat through a straw for six weeks, but as soon as I could eat real food again, I was so stoked to get back in the gym. I love working out. I’ve been doing it for a long time.”

Smith’s doctors gave him a nine-month window to train and rehabilitate before he would be cleared to fight again. Upon his return in July, he remained determined to finish his opponent as quickly as possible, but wanted to absorb some punishment, too, just to see how his surgically repaired jaw would react.

“To be honest, I wanted to know my jaw was good and that this wouldn’t happen again,” he said. “I wanted to test it a little bit.

“In the first round, I was little rusty, but I did what I had to do in the second round and got him out of there. That’s the plan. That’s always the plan.”

Smith now has seven wins, all by knockout, and will aim for his second consecutive victory March 30th at Foxwoods. The setback suffered two years ago has done little to dissuade him from his ultimate goal of winning a world title. A broken jaw couldn’t derail him, so it’s hard to imagine any other roadblock standing in his way.

“If anything, this has motivated me even more,” Smith said. “It makes me want to train harder so it won’t happen again. I can’t wait for March. I’ve been in the gym training hard everyday. I’m in great shape. I’m ready to go.”

Tickets for “All In” are $40.00, $65.00, and $125.00 (VIP ringside) and can be purchased by calling CES at 401.724.2253/2254, or the Foxwoods box office at 800.200.2882, online at or Doors open 6 p.m. with the first bout scheduled for 7.

“All In” stars Philadelphia native “Hammerin'” Hank Lundy (21-1-1, 11 KOs) – ranked No. 4 in the World Boxing Council (WBC) – defending his North American Boxing Federation (NABF) lightweight title against No. 11-ranked “Dangerous” Dannie Williams (21-1, 17 KOs) in the 10-round main event. New Haven, Conn., native Elvin Ayala (24-5-1, 11 KOs), ranked No. 16 in the WBC, will defend his WBC U.S. National Boxing Council (USNBC) middleweight title against Hector Camacho Jr. (53-4-1, 28 KOs), the son of former four-time world champion Hector “Macho” Camacho Sr., in the 10-round co-feature.

The undercard features Philadelphia’s Frankie Trader (8-0, 2 KOs) facing Adrian Perez (7-4-1, 1 KO) of Sarasota, Fla., in a six-round super featherweight bout; and Shelton, Conn., super middleweight Nick Lavin (2-2, 2 KOs) battling Steven Chadwick (0-3) of Jacksonville, Fla. New London, Conn., featherweight Shelito Vincent (1-0) will face Karen Dulin (2-10, 1 KO) of Mystic, Conn., in a four-round rematch; and Josh Crespo (0-1-1) of New Haven will take on Alfredo Garcia (2-0) of Sarasota in a four-round super bantamweight bout. New Haven welterweight Christian Lao (3-1, 1 KO) and Providence, R.I., cruiserweight Donte Wiggins (1-0, 1 KO) will also be featured in separate four-round bouts.


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Michael Parente

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