Smith stops Alvarez, one step closer to world title

The Long Island native knew the stakes on Saturday night, and did what was needed to get the win.

Joe Smith Jr. defeated Eleider Alvarez by 9th round knockout at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas to register his 21st knockout victory of his career. He is now 26-3 and hopes to fight for a world title after falling short last March against Dmitry Bivol. Alvarez – the former world champion – drops to a record of 25-2 and it was the second loss in his last three fights.

Smith worked his way into getting the KO as he came at Alvarez over the course of the bout. He threw multiple combinations and was more aggressive at the beginning of the fight while Alvarez looked to score one big shot. With Smith being a heavy-handed puncher, his strategy worked better as he was able to defend most of the power shots coming from Alvarez over the course of nine rounds. During the fight Smith established a jab and followed up with right hands on occasion plus threw combinations to keep Alvarez on his back foot. There was not much of an answer from the Colombian from Montreal as the right hand only caught Smith a few times.

Before Saturday’s bout, Joe Smith Jr. used his camp to improve his boxing skills.

“Coming into this camp, I knew I had to work on my boxing,” Smith said after his KO win. “I wanted to be sharp, throw a lot of straight punches. I knew coming in today I had to box a little more because he’s got that great right hand.”

With the win, Smith is one fight closer to becoming a world champion. Photo by MIkey Williams

The right hand of Alvarez was what got him the WBO world title two years ago when he stopped Sergey Kovalev in Atlantic City. In the rematch, Kovalev scouted the pattern of Alvarez and boxed his way to a win. Smith looked at footage of that rematch and that built the plan for the night.

“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. 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.”

With the win, Joe Smith is likely to face the winner of Umar Salamov-Maxim Vlasov for the WBO light heavyweight title. Smith wants the second try at a championship to be successful and feels that it will happen.

“I got a lot more experience now and I feel that I’m ready for a second shot…I’m gonna bring it home.”


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