Star Boxing Review of 2021: Joe Smith Jr. the hero
One year ago, a collective sigh of relief could be heard across the globe as the year changed from 2020 to 2021. At the change of a number, hope began to amass amongst the public that a COVID riddled world would finally be put behind us, and normalcy would be restored.
While safety measures were put in place, and fight bubbles continued to serve its purpose, the world finally got back to boxing.
The year was scheduled to start off with a bang, as the “Common Man,” Long Island light heavyweight hero, JOE SMITH JR. (27-3 21KO’s) prepared for his second crack at world title glory, against crafty Russian veteran MAXIM VLASOV in mid-February at the MGM in Las Vegas on ESPN.
Unfortunately, a stern reminder of the realties of COVID postponed the fight when Vlasov tested positive just two days before the world title fight. Like the resilient working man that he is, Smith Jr. would not be deterred. A change of date and venue saw the fight moved to Tulsa Oklahoma (April 10), but the goal and result remained the same. In a thrilling 12-round fight, Smith Jr. strapped his boots a bit tighter, bit down hard in the championship rounds, and gutted out the victory by majority decision to win the WBO World Light Heavyweight World Championship.
Joe Smith Jr. will start off Star Boxing’s 2022 in his first world title defense against fellow light heavyweight banger, by way of the United Kingdom, CALLUM JOHNSON (20-1 14KO’s) on January 15 at Turning Stone Resort Casino, LIVE on ESPN.
Through the uncertainty, Hall of Fame promoter Joe DeGuardia remained steadfast, finding high level opportunities for the vast and talented Star Boxing stable after the Joe Smith Jr. World Championship victory, Upset minded heavyweight CARLOS TAKAM (39-6-1 28KO’s) would board a flight in late July and cross the Atlantic Ocean into enemy territory to take on #1 heavyweight contender JOE JOYCE in London.
Takam brought the fight to Joyce over the first five-rounds, landing an overhand right that seemed to never miss its target. The uneasy tension of the UK crowd could be felt as Takam barreled on, winning on all judge’s scorecards. In the sixth-round, Joyce landed a stiff combination unsteadying the former Cameroon Olympian, who maintained a defense during the onslaught, deflecting much of the Joyce attack.
Controversary ensured as the referee jumped in, stopping the fight, much to the distain of Takam who immediately protested. As a result of the stoppage, Joyce got the TKO-6 victory, but Takam once again validated his reputation in the boxing world.
Star Boxing’s critically acclaimed “Rockin’ Fights” series came back from a 19-month COVID hiatus to a triumphant return to The Paramount in Huntington New York for two shows in 2021. Rockin’ Fights 39 took place on September 4th and Rockin’ Fights 40 followed on November 11th.
At November’s Rockin’ Fights 40, recently signed Current IBO World Super Featherweight Champion, Italian, MICHAEL “LONE WOLF” MAGNESI (20-0 12KO’s) got right to work making his US debut against EUGENE LAGOS in the main event of “Rockin’ Fights 40”, resiliently getting off of the deck in the first round to clobber Lagos with a perfect right hand to the body, then to the head, reminding fans of former World Champ Arturo Gatti. Magnesi awed the crowd in an inspiring third-round TKO victory, planting his Italian flag in the US as a real force at 130 lbs.
Undefeated super lightweight and Paramount grown ALEX “EL TORO” VARGAS (12-0 4KO’s) appeared on both of Star Boxing’s 2021 Paramount shows, showcasing his talents in front of his hometown fanbase, picking up two unanimous decision victories.
2021 also saw Author, ringside analyst and former WBO World Champion, CHRIS ALGIERI (25-4 9KO’s) return to the ring for the first time after two years of pandemic hiatus in August to co-feature on the TrillerVerz card at the Hulu Theatre at MSG.
Algieri took Brooklynite MIKEL LESSPIERRE to school over ten-rounds earning a wide-spread unanimous decision. Parlaying this domination, Algieri took his chances in Liverpool England (December 11) against undefeated rising welterweight prospect, CONOR BENN. After a tense three rounds, with Algieri up against the ropes, Benn connected with a crisp and brutal one two combination in the fourth immediately ending the fight.
The fourth quarter of 2021 proved extremely busy as Star Boxing’s talent was once again on display on Triller. Star Boxing rolled into the Barclays Center in Brooklyn with both the main event and co-feature of another boxing/music combined event. The main event featured the return of knockout artist and NABA Super Lightweight Champion, CLETUS “THE HEBREW HAMMER” SELDIN (26-1 22KO’s) against stablemate WILLIAM SILVA (28-4 16KO’s).
The North American title fight lived up to the hype as Seldin and Silva went to battle over six fan friendly rounds that had fans on the edge of their seats. Early in the seventh Seldin landed his quintessential missile overhand right that sent Silva to the canvas where he would remain for several minutes, before thankfully getting to his feet. The seventh round KO victory put Seldin back on the map at 140 lbs. and is now currently world rated #8 by the WBA and #14 by the IBF.
In the co-feature bout, Queens native DANNY “EL GALLO” GONZALEZ (20-3-1 7KO’s) would take on PETROS ANANYAN for the vacant WBA Continental America’s Title over ten-rounds. After a slow start Gonzalez came on heavy in the back half of the fight, overcoming a gash on his forehead that left the ring, Danny himself, and everyone involved a bloody mess. The bloody battle was riveting and sensational. The gash would cause Gonzalez to need 25 stitches in his face post fight. Gonzalez fell just short in the fight by a razor thin close majority decision but earned the respect of boxing fans everywhere for his performance.
WBC Continental America’s Cruiserweight Champion, SIMONE “TYSON” FEDERICI (18-2-1 8KO’s) improved with a points decision in his native Italy in March and was set to defend his title against Massachusetts product, Vincenzo Carita, until Carita broke a rib in training and the fight was postponed. Be on the lookout for this fight in early 2022.
Star Boxing was pleased to add alongside its 2021 signings of Vargas and Magnesi, Iraqi born Kurd, BADIEN “BAD MAN” HASSO (19-0 10KO’s) who will be campaigning at Middleweight.
2021 also saw many of Star Boxing’s prospects and contenders continue their rise up the ratings. After picking up a TKO victory in Kentucky earlier in the year, undefeated Ukrainian Super Bantamweight OLEH “UKRAINIAN PITBULL” DOVHUN (13-0 5KO’s) defeated Glenn Dezurn in Pittsburgh this past November, to win the NABA Super Bantamweight Title. With the victory Dovhun is now rated #6 in the world by the WBA.
In May, fellow Pittsburgh based Ukrainian, LYUBOMYR “THE DEMOLITION MAN” PINCHUK (13-2-1 8KO’s) returned to his natural cruiserweight division and dominated Andrew Satterfield for a first round TKO victory.
Undefeated French Super Welterweight DAVID PAPOT defeated Evgeny Terentiev for the IBA World Title, and at the close of the year, is world rated #6 by the WBO, and #10 by the WBA.
Belgium based Bridgerweight, JOEL DJEKO jumped to heavyweight and took his shot at French Olympian TONY YOKA in Yoka’s backyard. Djeko made a great account for himself, getting late into the 12th, but Yoka proved to be too much coming away with the victory. Djeko will be campaigning in the WBC’s Bridgerweight division and is world rated #4 by the WBC’s new weight class.
Undefeated Light Heavyweight prospect RICHIE “POPEYE THE SAILOR MAN” RIVERA (21-0 16KO’s) picked up three wins in 2021, traveling to Orlando, Massachusetts, and Colombia in the process.
Highly touted Irish prospects, “SUPERFLY” TONY BROWNE hit the road 6 times in 2021, finishing the year with a record of 5-1 1KO, and “THE SILENT ASSASIN” RYAN O’ROURKE continued his unbeaten streak with another three victories, improving to 8-0 1KO.
Undefeated Moldovan born, Irish based prospect VICTOR “SLICK VIC” RABEI improved to 11-0 4KO’s before being sidelined by injury and will look to bounce back in 2022.
Danbury super lightweight, OMAR “THE BEAST” BORDOY(11-1 3KO’s) added a victory to his record with a wide unanimous decision in Derry New Hampshire.
23-year-old Dominican banger SANDERSON DIAZ (14-0 11KO’s) notched two additional second-round KO’s to his record in 2021, and looks to make landfall in the US in 2022.
Star Boxing CEO JOE DEGUARDIA stated: “Certainly 2021 has been challenging with continued uncertainties. With that said, I am proud of our team (staff and fighters) who bit down, rolled with the punches, and really came roaring to the finish. I’m happy we were able to get our boxers significant opportunities that have put them in position to have a very successful 2022, and thrilled by the WBO World Championship earned by Joe Smith Jr.
The business of boxing is much like boxing itself, and 2021 was certainly a year full of bobbing and weaving, being hit and hitting back. But, at its close, all of us at Star Boxing are proud of our team and excited for what’s to come. On behalf of all of us, I wish you a happy and healthy new year, and we hope to see you in two weeks on January 15th for Joe Smith Jr.’s world title defense against fellow light heavyweight banger, Callum Smith at Turning Stone live on ESPN!”