Joe Smith Jr. in advanced talks to face Stevenson April 29 in NY
Light heavyweight champion Adonis Stevenson and upstart Joe Smith Jr. are in advanced talks to meet on April 29 at the recently renovated Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, New York, RingTV.com has learned.
The promoters of both fighters, Joe DeGuardia and Yvon Michel have had fruitful discussions since Smith turned the boxing world on its axis by knocking out Bernard Hopkins in the eighth round last month in his farewell bout on HBO. Both seemed optimistic the fight will happen.
“It’s a great opportunity for Joe Smith to fight for a world title,” Michel told Ring on Friday morning. “We’re willing to go to his own place for the right deal. The first couple discussions I’ve had with Joe — I can be very optimistic (about the fight happening). It’s a fight that I would like to do. It’s an opportunity that we’re willing to give to Joe Smith.”
While a deal has not been finalized and DeGuardia admitted he’s also talking to other promoters in the hopes of striking the best deal for Smith, DeGuardia sounded almost giddy over the prospects of Smith facing WBC titleholder Stevenson.
“Yvon and I have done business before,” DeGuardia told RingTV.com on Friday. “I have absolutely no problem doing business with him and it’s been very smooth negotiations” and they are “far along. I think it’s important to get it done soon to give it the just promotion it needs.” Michel said he planned to continue the talks on Friday with DeGaurdia. There is no U.S. television attached to the bout yet but Michel said he will speak to Stevenson advisor Al Haymon about putting the fight on Showtime. “I’m sure Stephen would love the fight,” Michel said of Showtime boxing chief Stephen Espinoza. “I believe it’s a good fight for Showtime.”
Stevenson (28-1, 23 knockouts) was ordered by the WBC to face the winner of the title eliminator between Lucian Bute and mandatory challenger Eleider Alvarez on Feb. 24 in Quebec City, Quebec; they are both promoted by Michel. The WBC mandated the fight take place on April 29 but Michel believes the WBC would reconsider its plans because of the significance of a fight between Stevenson and Smith and if a side deal can be made for the Bute-Alvarez winner. The 27-year-old Smith rose to prominence after drilling contender Andrzej Fonfara in the first round in June and knocking Hopkins through the ropes in December.
“That’s something we’ll have to deal with,” Michel said of Stevenson’s mandatory issues. “We cannot just discard the mandatory. The WBC I believe will go with us if we can make a side deal with the mandatory contender. But I don’t believe it’s impossible. I think both Bute and Alvarez — they are aware that the winner of their fight will be more popular and have more credibility for Stevenson and Stevenson-Smith has the potential to be a real big fight. And if Stevenson wins it’s still a big fight to come back to fight his mandatory. There is some discussion to be had but I don’t believe it’s any roadblock.”
DeGuardia also believes the merits of the fight would convince the WBC to allow it to happen. Smith (23-1, 19 KOs) is a laborer in Local 66 and returned to work soon after his upset-win against Hopkins. He is from Shirley, Long Island and is a power puncher, much like Stevenson, who flattened Thomas Williams Jr. in the fourth round back in July.
“What a great way to open up the Nassau Coliseum but by having one of Long Island’s own in Joe Smith, who’s coming off two sensational knockout victories, fighting for the championship of the world in his backyard and attempting to pull off the hat trick?” DeGuardia said. “I love it. It’s a great, great fight. I think it would be an immediate sellout, with Joe’s union support and the fact that we developed him on Long Island as being a ticket seller. So it’s just perfect.”
DeGauardia is also looking into the possibility of staging a bout between Smith and amateur/Long Island rival Seanie Monaghan at Nassau Coliseum, he said. But a fight involving Smith and Stevenson would be a bigger attraction nationally and of more significance for Smith, who would be vying for a world title for the first time.