Joe Smith (27-3, 21 KOs) squeaked by Maxim Vlasov (45-4, 26 KOs) by a narrow 12 round majority decision to win the vacant WBO light heavyweight title on Saturday night in a Top Rank card on ESPN from the Osage Arena in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
The scores were 15-113, 115-113 for Smith, and 114-114 even. Smith hurt the 34-year-old Vlasov with some big shots in the 11th.
However, just when it appeared that Vlasov was going to down, Smith hit him in the back of the head with a rabbit punch. The referee then gave Vlasov a time-out, and saved him from being knocked down and potentially knocked out.
Vlasov appeared to do enough to get the win, but the judges weren’t impressed enough with his performance.
With this win, it sets up a unification fight between Smith Jr and IBF/WBC 175-lb champion Artur Beterbiev later this year.
— Top Rank Boxing (@trboxing) April 11, 2021
Boxing 247 will be giving undercard results below:
- Undefeated heavyweight fringe contender Efe Ajagba (15-0, 12 KOs) continued his glacially long, slow climb to the top with a third-round stoppage over Brian Howard (15-5, 12 KOs). The powerful Ajagba knocked Howard down with a nice right hand to the head in the third. The fight was then halted. The time f the stoppage was at 1:29 of the third. Ajagba is another contender on the Top Rank roster that needs to start fighting better opposition.
- Heavyweight prospect Jared Anderson (9-0, 9 KOs) stayed unbeaten with an easy second-round knockout over Jeremiah Karpency (16-3-1, 6 KOs). The big 6’4″ Anderson knocked Karpency down in round one with a shot to the breadbasket. In the second round, Anderson knocked Karpency down with another body shot. This time the fight was halted. The time of the stoppage was at 0:34. It’s time that Top Rank starts matching Anderson against better opposition already because he’s not being put in fights where he can learn anything because he’s destroying everyone he faces.
- Super featherweight Albert Bell (18-0, 5 KOs) dominated Manuel Rey Rojas (20-5, 6 KOs), beating him by an eight-round unanimous decision. The scores were 78-73, 78-73, 78-73.
- Light welterweight Robson Conceição (16-0, 8 KOs) kept his unbeaten record intact with a seventh-round stoppage victory over Jesus Antonio Ahumada (17-4, 11 KOs). Conceição finished the job with a big left hand to the head.
- Heavyweight knockout artist Trey Lippe Morrison (17-0, 17 KOs) destroyed journeyman Jason Bergman (27-20-2, 18 KOs) by a third-round knockout. In the third round, Bergman suffered an ankle injury, and the fight was stopped at 1:27 of the round.
- Featherweight prospect Duke Ragan (4-0, 1 KO) dominated Charles Clark (3-7-1, 1 KO) in winning a one-sided six-round unanimous decision. The scores were 60-54, 60-54, 60-54.
- Heavyweight prospect Jeremiah Milton (3-0, 3 KOs) stopped Jayvone Dafney (2-3, 2 KOs) in the first round of a total mismatch. The match was halted at 1:19.
- Unbeaten heavyweight prospect Sonny Conto (7-0, 6 KOs) made easy work of Waldo Cortes (6-4, 3 KOs) in stopping him in the first round. Conto flattened Cortes with a right hand to the head. The time of the stoppage was at the 1:41 mark.
The winner of tonight’s Smith vs. Vlasov fight will be taking on IBF/WBC light heavyweight champion Artur Beterbiev in unification with three titles on the line.
Smith feels confident that the 36-year-old Beterbiev is ready to be beaten after watching his recent title defense against Adam Deines. Beterbiev was coming off a long layoff, injuries, and a COVID 19 illness, and he didn’t look as good as he had in the past.
Joe Smith Jr and Maxim Vlasov will be in action tonight in a fight for the vacant WBO light heavyweight belt on Top Rank’s card on ESPN at the Osage Casino in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The main portion of the card will begin at 10:00 p.m. ET.
#1 WBO Smith (26-3, 21 KOs) has bounced back with two consecutive victories since losing to WBA 175lb champion Dimitry Bivol in 2019.
The hard-hitting Smith has seemingly ironed out the flaws in his game with victories over Jesse Hart and Eleider Alvarez.
Tonight, we’ll find out for sure if Smith is ready for the big time when he goes up against the highly technical Russian fighter Vlasov (45-3, 26 KOs), who has different wrinkles in his game that he’ll be looking to try spring on him