As JOE SMITH JR.’s (Long Island, NY 25-3 20KO’s) WBO Light Heavyweight World Championship Title Eliminator against ELEIDER “STORM” ALVAREZ (25-1 13KO’s) comes roaring around the corner on August 22, a unique fight camp comes to a close.
Gyms that were once filled with echoing punches on the heavy bag, the clicking of a jump ropes on the floor and the conversation of stories from boxing past, now remain in a deafening silence.
Regardless of the current COVID world, when the phone rings, Long Island’s Common Man, Joe Smith Jr., answers. Come fight night the goal remains the same for Joe Smith Jr., “I just want to keep it going,” he said, ” I got to put on a great show every time I’m in there, so I can have more and more people recognize me.”
Fighters, who are often characterized as creatures of habit, have dealt with this “new normal” in different ways. For Smith Jr., it was a change he recognized, but something he knew he must embrace and make ‘common’, “It was different but as far as training goes, when your training you’re not really around people going out and doing things, so the last two months haven’t made a big difference because I would separate myself from everyone normally.”
Smith Jr. will be returning for his second consecutive bout on ESPN (this time on ESPN+), where he was last in action this past January, defeating then #3 world rated light heavyweight JESSE HART (then 26-2 21KO’s) in classic upset fashion.
Smith believes it’s his duty as a fighter to to bring live sporting entertainment into the homes of millions who have otherwise been in a sport drought, “Boxing has been carrying the sports world. We have to make sure if we have a fight coming up that we stay in quarantine to not mess anything up and be able to get in there to put on a show for the fans.”
After tuning in to the ESPN boxing summer series, Smith Jr. says the circumstances will not faze him come fight night, “I have watched a few fights on ESPN. It’s definitely different, but boxing is a lonely sport, when you’re training it’s only you and your trainer, that’s it.”
Alvarez-Smith Jr. is promoted by Top Rank in association with Joe DeGuardia’s Star Boxing, and Group Yvon Michel. The WBO Title Eliminator is set to take place August 22, live from The Bubble at MGM Grand, in Las Vegas, on ESPN +.