Interview with Joe DeGuardia, President and CEO of Star Boxing
By Jeff Jeffrey- Boxing Colomnist and Journalist, TVA Sports, JIC show
It’s been a tremendous year for the Joe Smith Jr (26-3-0, 21 ko’s) with back-to-back wins over Jesse Hart and former WBO champion, Eleider”Storm”Alvarez. Fighting under the banner of Joe DeGuardia’s Star Boxing , Smith is closing the distance on the WBO light heavyweight title sooner than he thought, even if it’s been a long time coming because Umar Salamov (25-1-0, 19 ko’s) as been ruled out of his fight against Maxim Vlasov (45-3-0, 26 ko’s). Now, Vlasov is the only man between the Irish Beast and the WBO title.
Joe DeGuardia generously agreed to speak with me about Smith Jr fighting Vlasov in late january 2021.
Jeff Jeffrey: Good afternoon Mr. DeGuardia. It seems we have a change in the WBO tournement. Your fighter Joe Smith Jr fought Eleider Alvarez while Umar Salamov was supposed to be in the ring with Maxim Vlasov october 23 on the undercard of Artur Beterbiev. Then, the winners advanced in the final for the WBO title vacanted by Saul”Canelo”Alvarez. I learned not so long ago that Smith will fight Vlasov for the title. What happened to Salamov?
Joe DeGuardia: My understanding of the situation is that Salamov got COVID-19 and had to be out of the fight. Therefore, he was gonna be unavailable for the tournement. You can’t have that title sitting around without nothing happening and it would have been unfair to Joe to make him wait. So he’s gonna face Vlasov for the title, which will not be an easy fight.
Jeff Jeffrey: First and foremost, Smith and Eleider Alvarez were supposed to fight for the vacant WBO title.
JDG: Correct. We thought like Yvon Michel did, that was it, both Alvarez and Smith would fight for the belt, but it didn’t go that way, Then the fight got pushed back because of Eleider right shoulder’s injury. The Vlasov-Salamov fight was supposed to be october 23rd, got cancelled as well. they tried to get it together one or two time after, but Salamov got COVID. The WBO did the right thing by moving on, because the title have been vacant for almost a year, december 17th . Joe deserve his shot by doing everything that was asked of him.
JJ: When will the Irish Beast face Maxim Vlasov?
JDG: We are working on it, but I guess it’s safe to say late January, early February 2021.
JDG: We have a lots of things to consider because of COVID and if we are gonna fight in front of fans or not. But it will be someplace in the United States. It could be Las Vegas , in the Bubble like the Alvarez fight. We would love to see Joe Smith Jr fight with boxing fans in attendance, because he is a crowd pleaser. Wherever it is we will be ready to go.
JJ: What would Smith would have to do to defeat Vlasov?
JDG: He’s gotta be Joe Smith! He will have to be the guy that came out and dismantled Jesse Hart and brutalized Eleider Alvarez. It will not be an easy fight, Vlasov is big guy with a lot of experience with top fighters in the cruiserweight division as well. On the other hand, Joe is something special and he’s got years of work ethic behind him. I was hoping that we would make it inside 2020, because he was on his way to become fighter of the year.
JJ: Do you agree with me that Vlasov will be the strongest opponent that Joe will face?
JDG: Yes. He is strong and fought the best fighters available. He’s the big russian bear! Smith can knockout a bear.
JJ: How Smith welcomed the news on fighting Vlasov?
JDG: He’s very happy and can’t wait.
JJ: Would the Irish Beast rather fight Umar Salamov, who’s a young hungry russian wolf?
JDG: He prefer whoever is available to get in the ring the quickest. I think Vlasov is tough and a bigger guy than Salamov, so that will be a challenge.
JJ: Thank you for Mr. DeGuardia.
JDG: It’s pleasure!