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Joe Smith Jr. has surgery on broken jaw

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By Allan Fox: Light heavyweight knockout Joe Smith Jr. had surgery on Tuesday to repair a broken jaw he suffered possibly before his disappointing his 10 round unanimous loss to Sullivan Barrera (20-1, 14 KOs) last Saturday night on July 15 at The Forum in Inglewood, California.

According to Smith Jr’s promoter Joe DeGuardia of Star Boxing, his jaw was injured during his final sparring before his fight with the 35-year-old Barrera. It was thought that it was just a bruise at the time, but the injury might have been worse than expected.

Smith’s surgically repaired jaw will be wired shut for a 5 week period. It’s obviously going to take a while for Smith Jr. to come back fully from the broken jaw. The surgery was performance at the Stony Brook University Hospital in Stony Brook, New York. Hopefully, Smith Jr. is able to return to the ring without him suffering any setbacks that could delay his ring return.

Barrera beat Smith by the scores 97-92, 97-92 and 96-93. The 97-92 score was the most accurate of the three in my view. Smith Jr. vs. Barrera fight took place on the undercard of the Miguel Berchelt v. Takashi Miura card, and it was televised on HBO Championship Boxing.

The broken jaw that Smith Jr. might have had before the fight with Barrera slightly taints the victory for the Cuban. Nothing is being said about a rematch between the two fighters, but you can argue that a second fight makes a lot of sense. If Barrera won because of Smith Jr. having an injured jaw before the fight, then that would seem like a rematch would make sense.

If a bruised jaw that was weakened to the extent that it could be easily broken by Barrera, then it was still bad news for Smith Jr. to have taken the fight under those conditions. Smith Jr. should have pulled out of the fight. Against a guy with the kind of punching power, experience and boxing skills of Barrera, it wasn’t a good idea for Smith Jr. to take that fight with an injured jaw.

The injury decreased Smith Jr’s chances of winning. With the defeat that Smith Jr. suffered to Barrera, it puts his career in a bad spot where he’ll need to come back from the injury and slowly rebuild his career to get back to where he was before he took the fight with Barrera. Who knows how long it’ll take for Smith Jr. to get back to the rankings he was at for the Barrera fight. A lot of boxing fans saw the Smith Jr-Barrera fight, and they might not be as excited about Smith Jr’s career after seeing him get dominated by Barrera the way he was.

There was a lot of curiosity why the fight was a 10 rounder instead of a 12 rounder. Smith Jr’s injury might be a potential reason for the fight being a 10 round fight instead of a full 12 round.

Smith Jr. knocked Barrera down in the 1st round of their fight last Saturday. After the 1st round, Smith Jr. looked gun-shy and uncomfortable when he would come forward to try and mix it up. Smith Jr. would turn his head to avoid contact. It looked like he was trying not to get hit. The injury had to have been painful for Smith Jr. to deal with the entire fight. Generally when a fighter suffers a broken jaw, the fight is stopped due to the risk involved for the injured fighter. In this case, Smith Jr. fought the entire 10 rounds with the injury.

“He thought it was broken in sparring. I hate to think that he was right,” DeGuardia said to espn.com. “Any time you get a significant break there’s always concerns, but typically this would not be a career-ending injury. But it’s tough. He’ll get a rest now.”

It’s too bad Smith Jr. took the fight with Barrera given the injury. It’s doubtful that Barrera is going to want to fight Smith Jr. a second time. Barrera, 35, wants a title shot. Depending on which title he’s going after, he still is looking at a long wait for a crack at a belt. It’s not in Barrera’s best interest to devote too much time fighting Smith Jr. rather than moving forward to get a title shot before he ages out and it too old to win a world title. It doesn’t make sense for Barrera to target a title shot against WBC light heavyweight champion Adonis Stevenson, because it could take many years before he gets a shot at his belt.

The loss for the 27-year-old Smith Jr. takes the wind out of his sails right now. Smith Jr. had recently beaten Bernard Hopkins and Andrzej Fonfara in back to back fights. Those were impressive knockout victories for Smith Jr. He showed incredible power in Hopkins and Fonfara, both of which had good punch resistance. Hopkins fell out of the ring after getting hurt by Smith Jr. in the 8th round in their fight last December. Hopkins said he was injured while falling out of the ring, which is why he chose not to get back inside the ring to continue the fight.

It’s unclear how long it’ll take for Smith Jr’s surgically repaired broken jaw to heal. It was said to be a clean break. Earlier in Smith Jr’s career, he suffered a broken jaw in a 4th round TKO defeat at the hands of Eddie Caminero back in 2010. That was a fight that Smith Jr. would have likely won with ease if not for the jaw injury. We’ll never know about the Barrera fight unless the two fighters face each other again with Smith Jr. healthy with a jaw injury. It does make you wonder what a healthy Smith Jr. would have been able to do to Barrera after you saw how he knocked him down in the 1st round.


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