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Sullivan Barrera vs. Joe Smith Jr. – Results

Sullivan Barrera

By Dan Ambrose: Former Cuban amateur star Sullivan Barrera (20-1, 14 KOs) had to get up off the deck in the 1st round to come back to defeat light heavyweight contender Joe Smith Jr. (23-2, 19 Kos) on Saturday night to win the WBC International 175 lb. title at the Forum in Inglewood, California.

The final judges’ scores were 97-92, 97-92 and 96-93. Smith Jr. knocked the 35-year-old Barrera down in round 1 with a hard-right hand. However, from 2nd round to the 10th, Barrera was able to dominate Smith Jr. with his jabs and right hands.

Barrera was continually nailing the 27-year-old Smith Jr. when he could come forward looking to land one of his enormous power shots. That was the difference in the fight, as Smith Jr. looked like he didn’t belong in the same ring with the better skilled Barrera. It’s not surprising though. Barrera came into the fight with the much better amateur background having been developed at an early age in Cuba. Smith Jr. was just a raw guy with a lot of power, but not much in the way of experience in boxing.

Barrera, #3 WBA, #6 WBC, #12 WBO, fought a smart fight in jabbing and catching Smith Jr. with single shots. Smith Jr. looked uncoordinated out there with his fighting stance, and the awkward way that he would come forward throwing his jab with his head tilted away. It looked like Smith Jr. didn’t know what he was doing in throwing punches. You could see the power was there for Smith Jr. When he would let loose with a left hook or a fight hand, the shots hand knockout written all over them. Fortunately for Barrera, he was able to get out of the way of Smith’s wild shots most of the time. it was only rarely that the punches would land.

The Barrera vs. Smith Jr. fight was previously was supposed to have been a 12 round match, but the promoters decided to make it a 10 rounder. In hindsight, that was not a good move for Smith Jr., as he could have used those two extra rounds to try and score a knockout. To be honest, I don’t think it would have made a difference. Barrera was simply far better than #3 WBC, #5 WBC, #11 IBF, #11 WBO Smith Jr. This could have an old fashioned 15 round fight and Smith Jr. would have been over his head.

Barrera has done a great job of coming back from his one-sided 12 round unanimous decision loss to Andre “SOG” Ward in 2016. Barrera has won his last 3 fights in beating Vyacheslav Shabranskyy, Paul Parker and now Joe Smith Jr. The ranking for Barrera has him in a good position to fight for the IBF or WBA titles once Ward vacates one or both of those titles in the future.

Barrera did a good job of timing Smith Jr. when he would attack him. Barrera was able to catch Smith Jr. coming in each time. Smith Jr. made it easy by choosing not to jab his way into position to throw his power shots. That was a mistake on Smith Jr’s part, as he would have been a lot more effective if he’d used his jab when coming forward. Ward showed that Barrera is vulnerable in close. That’s something that Smith Jr. failed to take advantage of in the fight tonight.

This has to be a real disappointment for Smith Jr., as he was hoping to get an eventual world title shot. In his previous fight, Smith Jr. had retired Bernard Hopkins in stopping him in the 8th round last December. The defeat for Smith Jr. was his first since 2010 when he was stopped in the 4th round by little known Eddie Caminero.

Smith Jr. had won 17 consecutive fights before he lost tonight’s fight to Barrera. Besides his big win over Hopkins, Smith Jr. had knocked out Andrzej Fonfara in the 1st round last year in June 2016. Smith Jr. is now going to need to hit the reset button on his boxing career o try and get in position to get a title shot.

Smith Jr. is one of those types of fighters that is too dangerous for him to be given a world title shot by a champion making a voluntary defense. That means Smith Jr. will need to slowly work his way back in position to get an eventual title shot. If Smith Jr. is lucky, he might get lowered too far by the sanctioning bodies. We’ll have to see. The World Boxing Council seems to be pretty good at keeping popular fighters ranked highly when they lose.

In other results on the card, WBA Super World super featherweight champion Jezreel “El Terrible” Corrales (22-1, 8 KOs) defeated #10 WBA fringe contender Robinson Castellanos (24-13, 14 KOs) by a 10th round technical decision. The judges scored the fight 94-93, 96-92 for Corrales, and 94-94. Boxing News 24 scored the fight 94-94. Corrales didn’t do enough to deserve the victory in the view of this writer.

The fight was halted in the 10th round due to the 35-year-old Castellanos being accidentally cut from a clash of heads in the 10th. Referee Jerry Cantu halted the fight at 0:31 of round 10. Corrales was knocked down in round 4. In the 7th, Castellanos was knocked own. The boxing fans booed the results of the fight, as they felt that Castellanos had done enough to deserve the victory. The cut wasn’t a surprise, as Corrales was constantly moving forward with his head straight up when attacking Castellanos.

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