After winning the WBO title, The Irish Beast is hungry for more!

April 14, 2021 Archives, Blog, boxe, Chroniques

Interview with the newly crowned WBO light heavyweight champion, Joe Smith Jr

Joe Smith Jr, WBO light heavyweight champion (photo credit: Star Boxing, Top Rank)

By Jeff Jeffrey, TVA Sports boxing columnist, The Battlefield, JiC show

Last Saturday, Joe Smith Jr (27-3, 21 ko’s) became the new WBO light heavyweight champion after a trench war with the Russian Bear, Maxim Vlasov (45-4, 26 ko’s). Smith realized his own Rocky story, becoming champion after being seen as a stepping stone by the elite of the division. Nevertheless, resilience is what Joe is made of. Smith is very skilled fighter but to many experts in Canada, Vlasov had more experience and was bigger than the Common Man to be the next one to face Beterbiev in the grand unification later this year. In life, you can’t measure desire or will. This is what happened in that fight, will beat a seemingly more skilled fighter in Vlasov. But the Irish Beast is not done, because he is now hunting his most dangerous prey, the unified IBF/WBC light heavyweight champion, Artur Beterbiev (16-0, 16 ko’s).

Joe generously agreed to speak with me about his war with Vlasov and his upcoming challenge, Artur Beterbiev.

Jeff Jeffrey: First of all, Joe, congratulations on your wedding and you becoming champion! I cannot think of a better wedding gift than becoming champion.

Joe Smith Jr: Thank you! It was a one. Now we’re going on our honeymoon with the championship belt, it’s gonna be great!

The Irish Beast rocking Maxim Vlasov ( photo credit: Star Boxing, Top Rank)

JJ: You’ve been chasing the dream of becoming champion for how long?

JS: Since I was thirteen years old. When I first laced boxing gloves.

JJ: Some boxing experts didn’t give you a really big chance to make it to the top in your career. You were not supposed to win against Andrzej Fonfara and you did. You were not supposed to win against the legendary Bernard Hopkins, yet you punched him out of the ring! After losing to Sullivan Barrera and Dmitry Bivol, Jesse Hart thought he would overcome you, yet again, you won. Same story with the former WBO light heavyweight champion, Eleider ‘’Storm’’Alvarez, you destroyed him. Would you say that’s a great source of motivation?

JS: Yeah! I don’t mind being the underdog. It’s a great motivation for me to get in the ring and prove people wrong. I had to adapt to that for this fight because lots of people saw me as the favourite to win. I couldn’t let that get to me. I had to remain focus to beat Vlasov. I knew he was very good.

JJ: How good was he?

JS: Very tough and crafty veteran. He’s big, he moves very well, got some fast hands too. He knew what to do and had a good game plan for the fight. For example, he cut me under my left eye in the first round, so I was bleeding into that the whole fight, I couldn’t see well. Also, he has been hitting me on the ears a lot to affect my equilibrium and popped one of my ear drum.

JJ: How did you figured him out?

JS: I dug deep. Like I said I couldn’t see right for most of the fight, so I threw my punches with mean intentions, stayed busy and slow him down by attacking the body.

JJ: Many boxing experts here in Canada thought Vlasov had more skills than you. Would you say that will beat skills last Saturday night?

JS: A part of it, yes. Willpower is very important. but I knew I had the skills to beat him. But I went out strong in the last two rounds of that fight to win the belt. In the eleventh round, I pulled a crafty move by sticking is head down while I was punching and he was hurt bad way before he went down. He was trying to buy himself time to recuperate. I had him.

JJ: Vlasov did something similar in the seventh round. He was going down from your left hook but held your arm.

JS: Exactly! He did that a few times. He did everything he could to survive. My corner told me at the end of the tenth round that everything is on the line and I had to dig deep and give my best and I did.

JJ: What’s your next move?

JS: I want Beterbiev and unified the belts and get the big money fight. I think styles make fights. Vlasov was my worst kind of style, but Beterbiev suits me better. He’s a guy that comes right at you to fight and that’s my game. Vlasov told me good luck for Beterbiev after our fight.

JJ: Fighters who gets in the ring with Beterbiev usually runs away from him, but I think you are gonna go after him. What flaws do you see in Artur’s armor?

JS: Yeah! He’ powerful so they don’t want to get close. But I got power as well. In fact, he’s never faced a guy like me. I don’t think he got the iron chin that Vlasov have. I’m gonna go for his chin if he can hold up to my power.

JJ: You have many nicknames, The Irish Beast, The Beast, The Beast from the East, The Irish Bomber but everyone now can call you champion. How does it feel?

JS: It’s great! I finally have the world championship. I deserve it because I fought the best fighters out there. Former world champions and the top contenders of my division. It’s a big accomplishment.

JJ: What did you think about Beterbiev last performance against Adam Deines?

JS: That was not his greatest showing, but he did what he had to do to get Deines out of there. In my eyes, that’s a type of fighter that should have been blown out in two rounds.

JJ: What did you say to your wife and daughter after winning the WBO title?

JS: We did it!

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