By Scott Christ
Sullivan Barrera was too skilled for Joe Smith Jr.
The fairytale run for Joe Smith Jr came to a screeching halt tonight in California, as Sullivan Barrera routed him over 10 rounds — more on that in a moment — to win a clear decision on HBO Boxing After Dark.
With his father watching him from ringside for the first time in eight years, Barrera (20-1, 14 KO) came off the canvas in round one and pretty much dominated the remainder of the fight, winning on scores of 96-93, 97-92, and 97-92. BLH had it even wider, scoring two cards for Barrera, both 98-91 in his favor.
Barrera was clipped and dropped by a left hook from Smith in the opening round, though he otherwise controlled the action of that frame, too. Still, that gave Smith a 10-8 opening round. It was hard to find much to give him after that, as Barrera simply outclassed him, boxing well and landing good shots, his skill just too much for Smith, something of a Cinderella story last year with wins over Andrzej Fonfara and Bernard Hopkins.
The win could set up Barrera for a big fight later this year, and HBO floated the idea of him facing Sergey Kovalev, which could be interesting with Kovalev coming off of two losses to Andre Ward, also the only fighter to beat Barrera as a pro.
For Smith, it’s a major setback, obviously, and he looked very ordinary in this one. He’s still got a little name value, but he’s not with a major promoter, and could have a hard time finding fights. His power is dangerous, but he can be outboxed, as we learned tonight against Barrera, who unlike Hopkins is a natural light heavyweight, and in his prime.
Note: The fight was originally scheduled for 12 rounds, but was changed to a 10-round fight earlier today. Nobody informed HBO of this, so the broadcast went on with everyone watching thinking they were seeing a 12-round fight. When referee Jack Reiss called the final round in the 10th, it seemed like even the two fighters questioned him, but the commission got word to HBO that the promoters had changed the distance beforehand.
Source:: Bad Left Hook