Joe ‘The Beast’ Smith Jr 26-3 (21) has lined up a shot at the vacant WBO light heavyweight title with his one-sided win over Eleider ‘Storm’ Alvarez 25-2 (13) at ‘The Bubble’ at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada on Saturday night.
Mexican superstar Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez vacated the WBO belt following his 11th round knockout win over Russian Sergey Kovalev last November.
Smith Jr will face the winner of a WBO eliminator between number one and two rated contenders Umar Salamov and Maxim Vlasov.
The 30-year-old Smith Jr from Long Island, New York was impressive against Alvarez, beating him with pressure and power before knocking him out at 0:26 of the ninth with a right-left combination that sent the 36-year-old Colombian through the ropes.
Smith Jr pushed the action all fight, outlanding Alvarez 125-51 in power punches and 135-81 in total punches, according to CompuBox. Smith Jr also outlanded Alvarez in 6 of the 8 completed rounds and had a 23-8 edge in body shots landed.
At the time of the stoppage Smith Jr was leading on all three judges’ scorecards 80-72, 79-73 and 79-73.
“Coming into this camp, I knew I had to work on my boxing,” Smith said. “I wanted to be sharp, throw a lot of straight punches.
“I watched his fight with [Sergey] Kovalev, and Kovalev kind of set the way to beat him. So we watched that and worked off of it.
“I knew coming in today I had to box a little more because he’s got that great right hand. He caught me with it a couple times, but I can take a punch too.
“Every time he hit me, I wanted to come and stop him in his tracks, and I did that. I stuck to my game plan and it was a great fight.
“I feel this one is a big one. I really needed it. I wanted to prove I’m not just a knockout guy. I proved my boxing ability too and I showed that tonight.”
In the main support bout former WBA ‘regular’ middleweight champion Rob ‘Bravo’ Brant’ 26-2 (18) got back in the winner’s column with a fifth-round stoppage of Vitalii Kopylenko 28-3 (16) in his first fight in more than a year.
The 29-year-old Brant had been sidelined by a torn bicep suffered in training last year following his second-round knockout loss to Ryota Murata in Japan in July 2019.
The fight was Brant’s first under the guidance of new trainer Brian McIntyre.
“My punch output was high, but I felt like I threw a lot of quality shots, especially with a veteran like Vitalii,” Brant said.
“I’m not going to try and pronounce his last name out of respect, but he’s a crafty veteran. He’s been around for a long time.
“I spent a lot of time in camp with them. It’s been a three-month camp with them. Between the advice they have given me and being around Terence Crawford and Jamel Herring, it teaches you to relax a little more.”
Also on the card Clay Collard 9-2-3 (4) knocked out Maurice Williams 7-2 (3) in two rounds to extend his unbeaten run to five from five in 2020.
“I’m just a fighter,” Collard said. “I like getting out there as often as possible and entertaining the fans. I appreciate all the love and support from the fans and I enjoy putting on a show for them.
“Listen, I’ll fight as often as possible. I love fighting on these Top Rank shows, and I look forward to the next one. This has been quite the ride.”