Joe Smith Jr. plays the waiting game
Joe Smith Jr. had as good a year as any boxer did, last year, winning two high-profile fights in which he entered as the underdog.
First, he dropped and stopped Andrzej Fonfara. Then he rudely sent Bernard Hopkins into retirement, knocking him clean out the ring, in California, and on HBO.
Smith was and is hoping that momentum would continue, that he’d seamlessly enter into another golden opportunity clash. Adonis Stevenson, the 39-year-old Haitian-Canadian, is in need of a dance partner. He holds the WBC light heavyweight title and Smith is ranked No. 3 by that organization. Talks were held between Smith promoter Joe DeGuardia, of Star Boxing, and the Stevenson people, with the goal being Adonis versus Smith on April 29 at the refurbed Nassau Coliseum.
But talks petered out, according to Jerry Capobianco, Smith’s trainer. It looks to him like Sean Monaghan, ranked No. 10 by the WBC, will instead get the nod. He is promoted by Lou DiBella, after having finished a stint with Top Rank Promotions.
Eleider Alvarez (No. 1 rated) gets next crack at Stevenson, should the latter win his next tango, which leaves Smith needing a waltz partner. “If Monaghan gets the Adonis fight, and wins, then there would be a rematch clause and they are tied up,” said Capobianco.
That division needs some clarity, as Andre Ward holds the other belts and is in a negotiation phase to do a rematch with Sergey Kovalev.
“It’s a tough division; we have to maintain our status,” “Cap” said.
“This one hurt. We thought we had the fight. (Team Stevenson) just never got back to us. Never gave an offer. I think we are talking to Nathan Cleverly and we will see what happens with Ward v. Kovalev. I’d love to have Joe have another fight before he would take on Kovalev…Cleverly would make sense to me. Jean Pascal would have been a good fight but we have to sit back and see how everything plays out. It looks like Adonis had another opportunity and took it.”
Under oath, Cap would likely say he doesn’t blame him, thinking Sean would be an easier out than Joe…
“I wouldn’t want to fight Joe in his backyard. Joe’s disappointed. It seemed a little too good to be true. I told him, be prepared; you never know. He is going to the gym right now. We are keeping up hope; maybe the WBC does something. He is still young; he’s got time. Maybe we do a rematch against Andrzej Fonfara, stay busy; it’s a winnable fight. Everybody wants to see it. I know (Fonfara) wants it, saw him Saturday (after he stopped Chad Dawson). How about a rematch, Fonfara told me.”
My take: Cap is right; Joe is still young at 27. The part of me who loves to see local rivals battle it out wishes we somehow get a Joe Smith versus Sean Monaghan scrap, for so many marbles. The waiting, being patient and staying focused, while political matters play out, can be as draining mentally, as training is to the body. It is part and parcel at reaching, and then maintaining, a top spot on the ladder, being able to roll with the political punches outside the squared circle.
The part of Michael Woods who loves to see boxing writers battle it out wishes we somehow get a…wait, we can’t say that on the internet. So Woodsy plays the waiting game too…
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