SAN DIEGO, June 18, 2016 – Fight fans have heard it so many times it has become white noise. The words might as well be “blah blah blah” coming out of an underdog’s mouth when he says, “I’m going to shock the world.”
But once in a blue moon, we get that shocker. Saturday it came courtesy of a sensational right hook, one of an impressive set of power punches from Long Island’s Joe Smith Jr., who stopped Polish born light heavyweight champion Andrzej Fonfara at 2:32 of the first round.
Smith Jr., “The Beast from the East,” put on the performance of his life in front of Fonfara’s adopted hometown fans in Chicago, his first fight outside the New York area. It is a clear favorite at the halfway point of 2016 for Upset of the Year.
Watch fight highlights here.
Fonfara was expected to have an easy time of it awaiting an opportunity to get a rematch with title holder Adonis Stevenson, or perhaps the winner of the soon to be announced Andre Ward vs. Sergey Kovalev bout. Instead, Fonfara (28-4, 16 KOs) is still trying to figure out how he got caught by Smith (22-1, 18 KOs).
Smith Jr., who has faced limited opposition and who to this point was still boxing part-time while working as a construction laborer, let loose some of the most accurate, effective power punches seen in months from anyone. The money punch was a devastating right hook, which put Fonfara down on the canvas. Fonfara got to his feet but he was badly hurt. Smith Jr. moved right back in and smashed hooks and overhand shots from right and left, landing a final left hook to stop the fight.
Smith Jr. is now the WBC light heavyweight champion. It seems surreal to everyone but Smith Jr.
“I expected to go 10 rounds with Andrzej, he’s a great fighter,” said Smith Jr. “But I worked real hard, I trained harder than I ever have in my life. Each fight I’m working harder and harder. I came here to prove a point. I belong in here with the best. I proved that tonight.
“He’s (Fonfara) fought the top fighters in the world. No one has dominated him like I have tonight,” said Smith Jr.
Smith Jr. said he knew Fonfara was leaving himself open when he threw punches, and told himself he needed to punch with him, and ended up catching him with the first overhand right. “When I see somebody hurt, I don’t let them off the hook. I’m a finisher. Nothing’s stopping me.”
Smith Jr. was a 14 to 1 underdog. Now he’s a world champion and you can bet he’ll be telling his supervisors back at the union hall in Long Island he won’t be working on any construction projects in the near future. We can’t wait to see Smith Jr. back in the ring to see if he can repeat Saturday’s outstanding performance.
On the undercard, 20-year-old super welterweight Erickson “The Hammer” Lubin (15-0, 11 KOs) continued his winning ways with a third round TKO over Daniel Sandoval of Mexico (37-4, 34 KOs). Lubin began the fight with exceptional body work, and then hurt Sandoval in the third round with a right hook. Sandoval got to his feet, and Lubin finished him with a body shot and punches from left and right until referee Mark Nelson stopped it.
See highlights of the fight here.
“I just want to keep on fighting better opposition until I’m at a world title,” said Lubin. “I want to show the world I’m one of the best 154 out there.” In a division packed with talent, Lubin is one to watch. Lubin dedicated his win to his hometown of Orlando, Florida.
Another new WBC champion put the title belt around his waist in Chicago. Bantamweight Rau’shee Warren (14-1, 4 KOs) won his rematch against Juan Carlos Payano (17-1, 8 KOs) of the Dominican Republic by majority decision, 115-113 X 2 and a 114-114 draw. Warren started the fight strong, but seemed to lose focus in the middle rounds. Payano turned the momentum his way, but then Warren woke up and took charge in the final three rounds, by far his best three rounds as a professional in a long time. By the end of the bout, Payano’s face showed damage. Warren was emotional when hearing the decision. “Dreams do come true,” he said. Warren said he would give Payano another fight to make it a triology if he wants it.
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. She is also a serious boxing fan covering the Sweet Science for Communities. Read more Ringside Seat in Communities Digital News. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego. Gayle can be reached via Google +
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