Joe Smith Jr. didn’t find much success Saturday, save for a first-round knockdown, but he wasn’t just fighting Sullivan Barrera.
The light heavyweight contender also was fighting through a broken jaw en route to a unanimous decision defeat.
“Somewhere during the second round I was injured and was in a lot of pain, but I did not want to let it show and I refused to quit,” Smith, 27, said in a statement posted on his social media accounts. “As the fight went on it got much tougher for me as the pain was just increasing more and more. I came very close to calling it.
“My corner was amazing, thank you Jerry Cap and Phil Cap for the advice and inspiration giving me the strength to keep me going — you guys are the best. Stitch (Duran), thank you for keeping down all the swelling. After the fight I went to the hospital for the second time in my career, it turns out I had my jaw fractured just as I expected so I fought about nine rounds with this. So I am very proud. I will be taking some time to heal and to make maybe the biggest decision of my career.”
Smith (23-2, 19 knockouts) certainly didn’t seem right on fight night. Referee Jack Reiss checked on Smith several times between rounds, but the Long Islander fought on, and though he wasn’t able to ever find his footing, he kept pushing forward. After the 10-round fight, Smith checked into UCLA Medical Center, where it was confirmed he sustained a broken jaw.
“It’s a similar injury to the one he suffered (seven) years ago and frankly, it’s amazing that he continued to valiantly fight over the next eight rounds and finish the fight,” said Joe DeGuardia, CEO and President of Star Boxing. Smith’s only other pro defeat came in 2010 to Eddie Caminero, the other time he broke his jaw.
“After spending part of Saturday night at the UCLA Medical Center, Joe will have surgery later this week in New York and we’ll know more then about a time frame for his full recovery. We congratulate Sullivan Barrera on his victory.”
Smith fought on the club level until a breakout 2016, where he scored upset knockout wins over Andrzej Fonfara (first round) and Bernard Hopkins. Smith, in fact, knocked the legend out of the ring in his farewell fight.
But Smith was unable to parlay his banner year into more success in 2017, and now it’s back to the drawing board.
Mike Coppinger is the Senior Writer for RingTV.com. Follow him on Twitter: @MikeCoppinger
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Source:: The Ring – Boxing