- Oops!Something went wrong.Please try again later.
A critical look at the past week in boxing
Joe Smith Jr. isn’t destined for the International Boxing Hall of Fame.
The strapping light heavyweight titleholder isn’t a polished boxer, although he seems to have improved. He isn’t particularly quick or athletic. In other words, the union worker is exactly what he has been called, “a blue-collar fighter.”
And that has both worked for him in the ring and endeared him to fans, many of whom can relate to him.
Smith’s performance against late replacement Steve Geffrard on Saturday wasn’t special but it was good enough, which is all that matters. He used his not-so-secret weapons of fitness, punching power and persistence to wear down and finally stop Geffrard (18-3, 12 KOs) in the ninth round.
Just a typical work shift for Smith, who was making the first defense of his WBO 175-pound belt.
Next up for him? He’s thinking big. He wants to take on imposing fellow titleholder Artur Beterbiev or, if Canelo Alvarez decides to fight a 175-pound opponent instead one at 200 or 168, he’d jump at that opportunity for obvious reasons.
Would Smith (28-3, 22 KOs) win those fights? Probably not, although he’d have a puncher’s chance against anyone. Sullivan Barrera (2017) and beltholder Dmitry Bivol (2019) easily outpointed him. It’s difficult to imagine him doing much better against Beterbiev of Alvarez.
We know what Smith would bring to those fights, though. He’d enter the ring in fantastic shape and he’d fight his heart out, which is all we can expect of any boxer.
I’m an optimistic person.
I hold out hope that Canelo Alvarez will fight one of the five potential opponents I suggested in a previous column, David Benavidez, Gennadiy Golovkin, Jermall Charlo, Dmitry Bivol or Artur Beterbiev.
However, also as I’ve written, the Mexican star has been driven more by collecting titles than the person across the ring from him. That allowed him to become undisputed 168-pound champ by a winning series of lackluster matchups.
Eddy Reynoso, Alvarez’s trainer and manager, has expressed interest in fighting cruiserweight beltholder Ilunga Makabu to add a belt in another division. Other than that, he’s been quiet about his intentions.
He said recently that he hasn’t even been in serious talks with anyone, although that’s hard to believe because the targeted fight date of May 7 is fast approaching.
I fear that Alvarez and Reynoso will choose the bigger, but limited Makabu, assuming the Congolese fighter defeats Thabiso Mchunu on Jan. 29. At the same time, There has been chatter that Charlo, a 160-pound champ, might be in the mix.
One British outlet had an interesting – and frightening – take on rumors that boxing purists might be disappointed with Alvarez’s next opponent. The outlet floated the idea that he might be targeting YouTuber-turned-boxer Jake Paul, which would generate a fortune but have no resemblance to a competitive fight. Let’s hope that Alvarez has enough respect for the sport to pass on that silly notion.
Reynoso said we could get word on his protégé’s next opponent soon. Fingers crossed.
Tyson Fury fights are good for boxing because of the energy he delivers before, during and after his bouts. And I have to think that he wants to get his 6-foot-9 body into the ring more often than he has.
The problem is that it’s easier said than done. The WBC beltholder has fought only twice in the past 2½ years, his knockout victories over Deontay Wilder in their second and third fights.
The last fight with Wilder occurred this past October, only four months ago. That followed Oleksandr Usyk’s upset over Anthony Joshua to win three of the four major heavyweight titles. Fans hope that the winner of their rematch will face Fury for the undisputed championship.
In the meantime, Fury needed an opponent. And it appeared that mandatory challenger Dillian Whyte would finally get a crack at his countryman.
Alas, that fight is stuck in the muck because Whyte has refused to accept the 80-20 purse split ordered by the WBC if the principals can’t reach an agreement and it goes to a purse bid, which Whyte has officially appealed. He reportedly wants something close to a 55-45 split.
The purse bid was pushed back to this coming Friday, meaning the parties have only a few more days to come to terms before the event becomes open to other promoters.
And if Fury and Whyte are unable to reach an agreement? Bob Arum, Fury’s co-promoter said his fighter will face someone else in late March. Arum threw out the names of Robert Helenius and Manuel Charr but he will have many good options.
Let’s hope things sort themselves out so we can see Fury fight in a few months.