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  Smith Jr. Obliterates Alvarez In 9

By William Trillo
Photos: Mikey Williams - Top Rank


The main event in the Las Vegas “Bubble” was a Light Heavyweight world title eliminator featuring former champion Eleider Alvarez (26-1, 14 KO’s) vs. the hard working and rugged Joe Smith Jr (25-4, 20 KO’s). It was a fight that promised to be a fan friendly battle and it did not disappoint.

These two strong combatants were letting the heavy leather fly early and often, this was truly a bombs away affair. But from the onset it was Smith who was pressing the attack as Alvarez seemed to be waiting, looking to counter with his vaunted right hand. That scenario played itself out round after round. As the fight went on, it was becoming clear Smith was putting rounds in the bank.

Bloodied but not deterred Alvarez was still in the fight and was trying to land an equalizer. Then like a Cobra, a right hand struck and Smith’s legs buckled. That was the moment Alvarez was hoping for but as fate would have it, he could not take advantage. Smith somehow managed to stay on his feet and finish the round. That would be the last time Alvarez would make any noise.

As round nine began Smith bull rush attacked a weary Alvarez. A blistering one-two combination sent Alvarez to the canvas and under the ropes. Laying hopelessly outside the ring Alvarez struggled to get up but by the time he rolled back into the ring and tried to rise to his feet it was too late. The ref counted him out at the 26 second mark of the ninth giving the jubilant Smith a KO victory.

Reflecting on the process Smith remarked, “Coming into this camp, I knew I had to work on my boxing. I wanted to be sharp, throw a lot of straight punches. I watched his fight with {Sergey} Kovalev, and Kovalev kind of set the way to beat him. So we watched that and worked off of it. I knew coming in today I had to box a little more because he’s got that great right hand. He caught me with it a couple times, but I can take a punch, too. Every time he hit me, I wanted to come and stop him in his tracks, and I did that. I stuck to my game plan, and it was a great fight. I feel this one is a big one. I really needed it. I wanted to prove I’m not just a knockout guy. I proved my boxing ability, too, and I showed that tonight.”

The new improved Middleweight Rob Brant (26-2, 18 KO’s) put on a quality performance after a 13-month layoff. Brant beat a tune on the face of Vitalii Kopylenko (28-3, 16 KO’s) that raised an angry mouse under his right eye.

Using a steady jab and great movement Brant showed skills we have not seen from him before. Putting a beating on a fighter the likes of veteran Kopylenko makes Brant’s dream of becoming a world champion again seem like a real possibility. After five rounds the referee took a look at the eye of Kopylenko and decided he was not going to allow the fight to see round six.

Talking about his night Brant said, “My punch output was high, but I felt like I threw a lot of quality shots, especially with a veteran like Vitaliy. I’m not going to try and pronounce his last name out of respect, but he’s a crafty veteran. He’s been around for a long time. I spent a lot of time in camp with them. It’s been a three-month camp with them. Between the advice they have given me and being around Terence Crawford and Jamel Herring, it teaches you to relax a little more.”

Heads up boxing fans, Super Lightweight Julian Rodriguez (20-0, 13 KO’s) is a fighter to keep your eyes on. His performance against Anthony Laureano (13-1, 4 KO’s) was very impressive. Although we only had less than three minutes to assess his skills it’s clear “Hammer Hands” Rodriguez has all the tools to make his presence known in the 140 pound division. Officially this fight was stopped after Laureano went down at the 2:50 mark of round one.

In regard to his performance Rodriguez noted, “Previous to the shoulder injury, I was more of a brawler. I was coming in with bigger shots, but once I noticed the arm wasn’t holding up in that way, it forced me to focus more on my footwork, using my jab, and more of a different style. Now I feel like I have all the tools.”

Becoming a somewhat of a cult hero because of his performances in “The Bubble” Super Middleweight Clay Collard (9-2-3, 4 KO’s) kept up his winning ways with a KO victory over Maurice Williams (7-2, 3 KO’s). To be honest Williams may have been on the lower end of the scale of legitimate fighters but that made no difference to a determined Collard, he was there to do his business. After a feel out round in the first Collard let his fists do the talking in round two and it was more than Williams could deal with. The bout was brought to a merciful halt at the 1:54 mark of round two.

On his popularity Collard said, “I’m just a fighter. I like getting out there as often as possible and entertaining the fans. I appreciate all the love and support from the fans, and I enjoy putting on a show for them. Listen, I’ll fight as often as possible. I love fighting on these Top Rank shows, and I look forward to the next one. This has been quite the ride. It’s funny. All of these prospects are calling me out. Things are different, that’s for sure.”

Making his pro debut Featherweight Duke Ragan did himself proud with a one punch KO victory over Luis Alvarado (1-2). A right hand from Ragan put Alvarado down but when he got back up he had no idea where he was. Fight over. Officially the bout came to an end at the 1:54 mark of round one.

Bantamweight mark of Robert Rodriguez (9-0-1, 5 KO’s) lived up to his nickname “Biggie” as he decimated Abel Soriano (10-1, 7 KO’s) inside of one round. Soriano came in as the undefeated KO machine but after a left to the liver and a hook to the chin did their damage the ref had no choice but to halt the battle at the 2:59 mark of the first round.

Super Lightweights Adrian Valdovinos (5-1-1, 4 KO’s) & Israel Mercado (8-0, 7 KO’s) put their respective undefeated records on the line in this tough six round scrap. Both men gained some good experience and learned you can’t blast everyone out every time you fight. Mercado gets the nod by unanimous decision 59-55 and 60-54 twice.

Super Welterweight Wendy Toussaint (12-0, 5 KO’s) took the opening fight of the night with a unanimous decision over Isiah Jones (9-3, 3 KO’s). It was a dominant but tentative performance from Toussaint who seemed to land punches at will. The problem was he wasn’t that willing to throw often enough, especially when he had Jones hurt. Toussaint shows promise but will need to be more aggressive as he progresses. Final scores read 80-72 & 79-73 twice.


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