Joe “The Beast” Smith Jr. successfully defended his WBO light heavyweight world title for the first time with a ninth-round knockout over late-replacement Steve Geffrard. He immediately attacked Geffrard at the beginning of the ninth and connected on eleven unanswered hard, left-right combinations to Geffrard’s head, including a left hook that forced Geffrard to take a knee. When referee Mark Nelson got to the count of nine, Geffrard’s corner told the ringside doctor to tell the referee to stop the fight, which he did at thirty-seven seconds.
This main event and the five undercard bouts were promoted by Top Rank Boxing from Turning Stone Resort Casino in Verona, New York, in front of a mostly-pro Smith crowd that constantly, loudly chanted, “Let’s go Joe” and “Joseph” throughout the bout. This fight card was televised on ESPN.
Smith dominated this one-sided fight, as he aggressively stalked Geffrard around the ring and out-threw and out-landed the defensive-minded Geffrard, especially with jabs and power shots. He landed several power shots towards the end of the first round and a hard right hook to Geffrard’s body in the second. Smith connected on many powerful hooks to Geffrard’s head and a right to his body in the third round. He kept up his offensive pressure in the fourth round, as he landed a couple of hard-straight rights to Geffrard’s head. He staggered Geffrard in the fifth round from a powerful right jab and he connected on a big left uppercut and powerful body shot in the sixth. Smith had Geffrard in trouble in the eighth, as he connected on several combinations, including a right uppercut towards the end of the round (he out-landed Geffrard 35 to 3 in the round).
According to CompuBox punch statistics, Smith threw more punches than Geffrard (665 to 463), landed more shots (233 to 81), and had a better connect percentage (35 to 17). He out-landed Geffrard with twice as many punches in just about every round and averaged 40 jabs and more than 80 punches thrown per round.
Smith also connected on more jabs (61 to 20) and almost three times as many power shots (172 to 61, at a rate of 59 percent).
He was ahead on all three judges’ scorecards at the time of the stoppage (80-72, 79-72, and 79-73) and only lost two rounds in the fight (second round on Don Trella’s scorecard and the seventh round on Tom Schreck’s scorecard).
Smith improved to 28-3, 22 KOs. He has won four in a row since he lost a twelve-round unanimous decision to undefeated WBA light heavyweight titleholder, Dmitry Bivol (19-0, 11 KOs) in his first world title shot, which also happened to be at Turning Stone Resort Casino. In his last outing in April 2021, Smith won a close twelve-round majority decision over Maxim Vlasov to obtain the WBO title that Canelo Alvarez vacated.
Geffrard, who took this fight on eight days’ notice (former world title challenger, Callum Johnson tested positive for Covid-19 and had to withdraw from the bout) and was taking a massive step up in competition, dropped to 18-3, 12 KOs. He had his eighteen-bout winning streak stopped, which started after he lost the first two bouts of his career. This was the first fight that Geffrard fought past eight rounds.
Smith hopes to land a significant fight later this year, in particular a unification bout against undefeated WBC and IBF light heavyweight world titleholder, Beterbiev. (17-0, 17 KOs). If Beterbiev wants this fight, it could be easy to make since they both share the same promoter, Top Rank Boxing. He would also like a rematch against Bivol (who needs to fight his mandatory challenger, undefeated and former WBO super middleweight champion, Gilberto Ramirez next) and he has expressed interest in an all-New York matchup against former middleweight world titleholder, Daniel Jacobs (37-3, 30 KOs), who is fighting at super middleweight (who will box John Ryder on February 12th). Additionally, he has been mentioned as a potential opponent for Alvarez’s (57-1-2, 39 KOs) next fight.