Joe Smith Jr. ready for Canelo or Beterbiev after win over Geffrard
By Sean Jones: Joe Smith Jr. feels he’s ready for Artur Beterbiev or Canelo Alvarez in his next fight after stopping challenger Steve Geffrard by a ninth round knockout last Saturday night in the long-awaited first defense of his WBO light heavyweight title that he’d won a year ago in April.
Canelo hasn’t decided who he’ll face in his next fight on the May 7th Cinco de Mayo holiday weekend. Still, Joe Smith Jr. is one of the options that he and his eagle-eyed trainer/manager Eddy Reynoso will be considering when they sit down this week to pick an opponent.
Canelo’s options for May 7th
The other names that Canelo and Reynoso will be considering are these fighters:
- Ilunga Makabu – WBC cruiserweight
- Artur Beterbiev – IBF/WBC light heavyweight champion
- Dmitry Bivol – WBA 175-lb champion
- John Ryder
- Daniel Jacobs
- David Benavidez
- Gennadiy Golovkin
Beterbiev, Benavidez, and Golovkin likely have ZERO chance of being picked by Canelo because they’re dangerous fighters, and the Mexican star hasn’t faced a quality opponent in four years.
Canelo’s skills have gotten rusty due to him facing paper champions one after another in the weak 168-lb division. When a fighter steps away from fighting quality opposition for four years the way Canelo has done, they go into a shock when they suddenly began facing elite-level fighters once again.
At this point, Canelo isn’t ready to take on talents like Joe Smith Jr, Artur Beterbiev, David Benavidez, Dmitry Bivol, Gennady Golovkin, Demetrius Andrade, or David Morrell Jr.
Hence, the Mexican star will almost surely stick with his original plan to face the little-known WBC cruiserweight champion Ilunga Makabu next in May. That’s what Sean Jones is predicting Canelo will do.
Joe Smith calls out Beterbiev & Canelo
“If Canelo wants to come to 175 and fight me, I’m ready for him,” said Smith Jr. last Saturday night after his demolition job on Geffrard.
“Everybody would love to see that fight. It would be a big deal,” said Smith Jr.
“[Artur Beterbiev] is what I want,” said Smith Jr. after the fight.
Whether Smith Jr. gets the fight with Beterbiev or not will be up to their promoter Bob Arum of Top Rank.
It’s doubtful that Arum will pull the trigger on the Beterbiev vs. Smith fight next, though, as both of them are in the running for a war against Canelo. Arum isn’t going to limit the net that he has to snare Canelo by having Beterbiev and Smith fight.
Arum should let Canelo pick between them so they can bring in big money.
Smith may have scared off Canelo
Unfortunately for the 32-year-old Smith Jr, he probably wrecked whatever shot he had of getting a fight against Canelo by finishing strong with a ninth round knockout of Geffard.
During the first eight rounds, Smith looked unimpressive against his timid & unwilling opponent Geffard. Still, when he turned it on in the ninth round with two flurries, he was dangerous-looking.
At that point, Smith Jr. was fighting similarly to David Benavidez, a fighter that Canelo has shown no interest in fighting. Canelo can’t deal with that kind of an attack from Smith, Benavidez, or any fighter due to his anemic work rate, which has gotten worse as he’s gone up in weight from 160 to 168 and 175.
If Smith threw those kinds of sustained flurries against Canelo, he would overwhelm his copycat Mayweather-esque shell defense and likely knock him out or at the very least have him red-faced and on the brink of being stopped.
Canelo physically can’t match that kind of punch output from Smith or Benavidez because he doesn’t have the cardio to throw a lot of punches. It’s all single stuff from Canelo followed by rest breaks to catch his breath.
For Canelo, he’s likely going to take a SOFT opponent with his next fight and continue the path that he’s been on since 2018.
It’s believed that Makabu (28-2, 25 KOs) is in the driver’s seat to get picked by Canelo for the May 7th date because he’s considered the weakest link among the champions at cruiserweight, and the Mexican star is looking to pad his resume by capturing his fifth division world title.
Fighting in front of his loyal fans at the Turning Stone Resort Casino in Verona, New York, Smith (28-3, 22 KOs) knocked down substitute opponent Geffrard (18-3, 12 KOs) down in the ninth round, resulting in referee Mark Nelson stopping the fight.
There would likely have been no complaints from the boxing fans had referee Nelson halted the contest before Geffrard went down in the ninth because he was getting flurried on by Smith Jr and taking massive unanswered shots.
Earlier in the fight, Geffrard had done an excellent job of partially blocking many of Smith’s hard punches, but he was getting hit and hurt by the fifth. Indeed, Smith Jr. hurt Geffrard with a powerful right in the fifth and a big uppercut in the seventh round.
By the eighth round, Smith changed tactics and began throwing sustained flurries to take advantage of Geffrard covering up and not throwing anything back.
Had Smith done this earlier in the first three rounds, he likely would have gotten Geffrard sooner because he was covering up and offering next to nothing back in his defense.
It appeared that Smith was worried about gassing out, so he chose to slowly pick Geffard apart rather than unload on him to get a quick stoppage.
Geffrard made a mess of his opportunity
For Geffrard, this is probably the last time he’ll ever get a world title shot, and it’s disappointing that he didn’t attempt to give it his best shot to win.
I’m sure Geffrard will be kicking himself & second-guessing his decision to cover up and not throw punches for nine rounds against Smith. After this inept performance by Geffard, I’d be surprised if ever gets another TV gig for the remainder of his career, even on an undercard.
When you’re in the spotlight on television, it’s crucial for a fighter to give it their app, especially if they’re an unknown in the eyes of the boxing public.
It’s better to go out in your shield in a courageous way than it is to fight timidly, as we saw with Geffard last Saturday night.
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