Paul Smith to face WBA champion Tyron Zeuge on March 18
By Scott Gilfoid: In some quite bizarre news, 34-year-old former two-time world title challenger Paul Smith (38-6, 22 KOs) will be challenging WBA World super middleweight champion Tyson Zeuge (19-0-1, 11 KOs) for his title on March 18 at a still to be determined venue, according to Boxrec. What makes this fight seem all the more stranger is the fact that Smith isn’t ranked in the top 15 by any of the sanctioning bodies in the 168lb division at this time, and he’s lost three out of his last six fights in the last two years. Frankly, I’m stunned that Smith is getting ANOTHER world title shot. We’ve got talents like Jesse Hart, who has never fought for a world title before, and he’s ignored while Smith fights for his third world title in the last two years. What is up with that?
Paul Smith getting a title shot at this point in his career makes little sense. His record in his last six fights is 3-3. Can you imagine an NFL team going to the Super Bowl with a record of 8-8 on the season? I don’t understand how Smith could be considered for a world title shot with that kind of record. Zeuge looks like a very vulnerable champion, so I can understand why someone like Smith is getting the fight, but shouldn’t at least the World Boxing Association insist on Zeuge fight a contender rather than a 2nd tier fighter?
Smith is pretty much on the verge of journeyman status. When you’ve lost that many fights in a close period of time, as Smith has done, it’s hard to see a fighter as anything more than a journeyman. Smith’s losses came against Arthur Abraham [x 2], and Andre Ward. Smith’s 9th round TKO loss to Ward came in June 2015. Smith’s defeats to Abraham took place in 2014 and 2015. Smith lost the first fight to Abraham in September 2014, but he started squawking about how he felt he should have won. The bellyaching led to Smith getting a rematch, which he clearly lost by a one-sided 12 round decision in February 2015.
I had Smith easily losing the first fight against Abraham in 2014, and I didn’t see the point in him getting an immediate rematch. If challengers could get rematches all the time in boxing each time they lost close fights, the sport would be slowed to a crawl with endless rematches. In the case of the Abraham-Smith I fight, I thought it was a clear win for Abraham.
Smith has won his last three fights against weak journeyman level fighters named Bronislav Kubin (19-23-2, 12 KOs), Bartlomiej Grafka (18-24-3, 9 KOs) and 36-year-old Daniel Reji (28-14, 15 KOs). Boy, those sure are some great records, aren’t they? All three of those dreadful mismatches took place in 2016. Smith stopped two of those three lower level journeyman fighters.
The 24-year-old Zeuge recently won the WBA World super middleweight title in beating champion Giovanni De Carolis (24-7-1, 12 KOs) by a 12th round knockout last November in Germany. De Carolis appeared to be winning the fight, but faded badly in the 12th and got stopped. The two fighters had previously faced each other in July of 2016 in fighting to a 12 round draw in Germany. I saw that fight as well, and had the Italian De Carolis easily winning against the German Zeuge. I wasn’t surprised that De Carolis didn’t get the victory though, because he was after all the visiting fighter fighting a hometown guy in Zeuge. The German fighter Zeuge fought with one hand most of the fight due to him suffering an arm injury, and it was very, very one-sided with De Carolis totally dominating. I still can’t believe the fight was scored a draw. That has to be one of the worst scored fights I’ve seen in boxing. I don’t know how the judges didn’t see De Carolis winning.
While I think Paul Smith is a decent journeyman fighter, Id rather see Zeuge face an actual top 15 contender for his first defense of his WBA strap. Jesse Hart, George Groves or Anthony Dirrell would be much preferable to Paul Smith as a title challenger in my view. When get champions fighting guys with 3-3 records in their last six fights, I see it as a race to the bottom of the sport. It’s up to the sanctioning bodies to make sure you don’t get champions combing the 2nd and 3rd tier ranks for easy opposition to milk their titles against. Smith should at least be ranked at No.15 for him to be getting a title shot, shouldn’t he? I’m just saying. Smith sure has lost a bunch of fights recently, and now he’s about to get another crack at a world title.
Zeuge should win fairly easy against Smith. Zeuge is a combination puncher with very little power. If he takes it the full 12 round distance, he wins. I can’t see Smith getting a decision over Zeuge.