Friday, March 24, 2023  |


DeGuardia says Smith is Fighter of Year over Crawford, Frampton


Promoter Joe DeGuardia suggested his boxer Joe Smith Jr. should be 2016 Fighter of the Year over Terence Crawford and Carl Frampton after his massive knockouts of Bernard Hopkins and Andrzej Fonfara.

Smith (23-1, 19 knockouts) knocked Hopkins out of the ring on Saturday with a big left hand at 53 seconds of the eighth round in Hopkins supposed farewell bout. Hopkins was lifted through the ropes and landed on his back, the first time he’s been stopped. It’s the second cartoon-like knockout for Smith, who came out of nowhere to drill Fonfara in the first round on June in another upset. It all adds up to a dazzling milestone, according to the Bronx-based promoter.

“I believe that Joe should be Fighter of the Year,” DeGuardia told on Monday. “He fought three times this year and scored knockouts. The first one (Fabiano Pena in April), Ok, no big deal, he beat a guy he was supposed to beat, the same way that Crawford beat guys he was supposed to beat. But in Joe’s second knockout in June, he went on national television on NBC, went into the other guy’s hometown and knocked the No. 2 rated contender in Fonfara when he was a big underdog. Then he goes and fights the final one against Bernard where he was a 2-1 underdog. He went out in a place where he was supposed to be the foil. Instead he knocks him through the ropes.”

Crawford (30-0, 21 KOs) has spoken of himself as a potential Fighter of the Year after he stopped John Molina Jr. on Dec. 12 in the eighth round. That followed his impressive effort against Viktor Postol in a junior welterweight unification match in July and his vicious fifth-round knockout of Hank Lundy in February. Then there’s Carl Frampton, who upset Leo Santa Cruz for a 126-pound title in July after rising a division; he also unified the 122-pound belts with a split decision over Scott Quigg in February. Vasyl Lomachenko, the incredibly talented junior lightweight titleholder, has also been mentioned as a possible candidate after he easily handled Roman Martinez and Nicholas Walters.

“He’s in good company,” DeGuardia acknowledged. “Crawford is a great fighter and all but he only beat who he was supposed to beat. You’re looking at a guy who burst upon the scene from no place and in the same year he knocks out Fonfara — he was considered a top dog — and then he knocks out Bernard the way he did. To me, those are Fighter of the Year type (achievements). It’s what you did in a year — not what kind of fighter you are. He beat guys he wasn’t supposed to beat, one of which was a living legend.”