It’s safe to say respected boxing commentator and analyst Al Bernstein wasn’t happy with the scorecards on Saturday night as Joe Smith Jr. earned a split decision win over Jesse Hart.
The Atlantic City light-heavyweight clash seemed to be a mere formality after ten rounds as Smith, the pre-fight underdog, dominated proceedings.
Smith put himself back in the win column with consummate ease, erasing the memory of a world title loss to Dmitry Bivol back in March.
The ‘Common Man’ had been thought to have considered walking away from boxing, which makes James Kinney’s scoring of the contest all the more startling.
Careers are on the line each and every fight, Therefore, incompetence such as what was witnessed at the Hard Rock, has to be eradicated.
— Evan Korn (@KornerMan44) January 12, 2020
Bernstein made his feelings clear in the aftermath.
“James Kinney’s scorecard in the Smith-Hart match is an absolute disgrace,” he said. “My 20 yr. old son, who has watched maybe four boxing matches in his life, could have scored it better.
“It is beyond shameful. He should NEVER be allowed to judge again.”
The fighters made no mention of the controversy in their post-fight interviews. Smith was just pleased the result went his way.
“I knew no matter how hard I got hit, I just had to stay busy,” Smith stated. “That’s what I did tonight. I’m coming home with the win.
“This win means everything for me. I had to make a statement that I belong at this level.”
Hart added: “I hurt my right hand a week ago. You can see it’s messed up. I don’t want to make any excuses because Joe fought a great fight.
“I hurt the hand in my last sparring session and thought I could overcome that. Credit to Joe for doing what he had to do.”
Smith, by claiming the WBO NABO strap, has put himself in the frame for clashes with the likes of Anthony Yarde and Sergey Kovalev. Not to mention a possible vacant title clash if Canelo decides to give up the belt.
Should the Mexican decide to make a defense on May 2, Smith may well have punched his way into consideration.