World Boxing Association super featherweight champion Jason Sosa (20-1-4, 15 KOs) won a tougher than expected 12 round unanimous decision over challenger Stephen Smith (24-3, 14 KOs) on Saturday night in a one knockdown performance at the Salle des Étoiles in Monte Carlo, Monaco. Smith gave Sosa problems with his holding and sneaky combinations.
Sosa wasn’t able to tee off like he normally does, because Smith would tie him up and wrestle for prolonged periods. When Sosa would get daylight to land a few shots, Smith would almost immediately tie him up again. It was like was like watching Ricky Hatton fight Kostya Tszyu with the way Smith was grabbing Sosa and wrestling him to keep him from throwing punches. It worked well, because it kept the fight from being one-sided as it might have been.
Sosa was at his best in rounds one through seven when he was able to take the fight to Smith. Sosa landed a lot of hard shots to the head of Smith when he was attacking on his front foot. Smith did a better job in the last five rounds of the fight with his strategic clinching, wrestling and sharp combinations. Sosa still looked like the better fighter during most of the last five rounds of the contest, but Smith did well in the 9th and 12th rounds. Smith’s problem is that each time Sosa was let loose to fight, he would nail him with heavy shots and dominate the action. Smith did best when he would tie Sosa up, wrestle, and then land shots after he’d let go of him. The clinching helped Smith lower the punch output of Sosa. It was ugly but effective for Smith.
The judges scored the fight 116-111, 117-110, 116-112. Boxing 247 had Sosa winning by a 117-110 score.
It’s unclear where Smith will go from here with his career. The loss was his second in his last three fights. Smith lost earlier this year to IBF super featherweight champion Jose Pedraza by a 12 round unanimous decision. The scores of that fight were similar to tonight’s fight. You’ve got to give Smith’s promoter Eddie Hearn credit for getting him another title shot in tonight’s fight against Sosa, because he really didn’t deserve to be fighting for another world title. I wouldn’t be surprised if we see Smith fighting for another world title against someone else soon. Hearn does a good job of getting his fighters world title shots, but I’m not sure that Smith earned tonight’s title shot.