Joe Smith Jr’s climb to the top of the light heavyweight division

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From his professional debut in 2009, JOE SMITH JR. (25-3 20KO’s) always packed a punch. Now, just two days away from Smith Jr.’s WBO Title Eliminator bout against ELEIDER “STORM” ALVAREZ (23-1 13KO’s) on August 22 on ESPN + live from The Bubble at MGM Grand in Las Vegas, we revisit some of Smith Jr.’s best moments.

After winning 16 of his 17 first fights, 13 by way of knockout, Smith Jr. made his first appearance at Star Boxing’s acclaimed “Rockin’ Fights” series at The Paramount in Huntington, New York. After four consecutive wins by knockout, Star Boxing CEO JOE DEGUARDIA had positioned Smith Jr. for a major opportunity, and in spring of 2016, the call came.

ANDREZJ FONFARA | June 18, 2016 | UIC Pavilion, Chicago

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A 16-1 underdog, Smith Jr. put on his hard hat, walked into enemy territory, and electrified the entire boxing world on NBC Sports. A thunderous right hand devoured then #2 ranked light heavyweight contender, and former light heavyweight world title challenger, Andrezj Fonfara, sending him to the mat. Smelling blood in the water, Smith Jr. pounced, firing off a six-punch combination flooring Fonfara for the second and final time. With the win, Smith Jr. earned the WBC International Light Heavyweight Title, and more importantly the hearts of boxing fans around the world.

BERNARD HOPKINS | December 17, 2016 | The Forum, California

Joe Smith Jr. vs Bernard Hopkins #FINAL1 from the Forum, LA

An underdog once more, Smith Jr. was handpicked by boxing legend Bernard Hopkins as his opponent for the #Final1, as Hopkins bid farewell to an iconic career. However, Smith Jr. would not allow the crafty veteran one final walk into the sunset. After a back and forth 7-rounds, Smith Jr. had Hopkins against the ropes when he unleashed a four-punch combination, sending the Hopkins through the ropes onto the Forum floor for a second consecutive underdog victory, retaining his WBC International Light Heavyweight Title.

DMIRTY BIVOL | March 9, 2019 | Turning Stone Resort Casino, New York
After recovering from a broken jaw and destroying Melvin Russell in 2018 inside of 1-round, Smith Jr. had positioned himself for a Light Heavyweight World Title Challenge against the dangerous technician, Dmirty Bivol. Bivol fought a measured fight, showing his skill, but the hard-working Smith Jr. took the champion 12-rounds, which included a highlight reel right hand that landed with just seconds left in the 10th round that had Bivol holding the ropes to get back to his corner. After the final bell, Bivol retained his title, and Smith Jr, further earned the respect of the boxing world.

JESSE HART | January 11, 2020 | Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, Atlantic City

Coming from Philadelphia, and being mentored by the great Bernard Hopkins, Jesse Hart felt it was his duty to take down Smith. Smith Jr. coming off of his world title challenge was looking to get right back in the mix against the #3 rated light heavyweight in Hart. Smith Jr. showed vastly improved movement and boxing ability, along with his signature power. Having Hart hurt in the second, Smith Jr. overwhelmed him with pressure, and in the seventh, scored a knockdown. Smith earned the WBO NABO Light Heavyweight Title and positioned himself for the WBO World Title Eliminator bout.

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