Steve Geffrard attempted to add his name to the list of recent surprise winners in boxing after agreeing to a title fight on eight days’ notice. Unfortunately for him, Joe Smith Jr. was determined and ready to defend his WBO light heavyweight title.
Smith knocked out Geffrard in the ninth round at the Turning Stone Resort Casino in Verona, NY on Saturday night. After landing several blows that rocked his opponent, Smith landed combinations that forced Geffrard, who had never gone past eight rounds in his career, to go down. It looked like he wasn’t going to beat the referee’s count, and his corner ended up stopping the fight.
“He really brought it today,” Smith said after the fight. “It was a great fight. As you can see, he’s a great fighter, a good survivor. I was trying to get him out of there early, but I realized he was too tough and I wasn’t going to be able to do it.” that. I tried to wait until the later rounds and started throwing more combinations to break him down.”
Smith (28-3, 22 KOs) controlled the ring from the first round. The Long Island, New York product landed punches and hooks early on, driving Geffrard back. In the clinch and driving forward, Smith landed massive punches that managed to break through Geffrard’s solid defense. Geffrard let his guard down for a brief moment early on, and Smith landed a big hook and overhand right.
Smith began round 2 by pretending Geffrard was a punching bag and delivered multiple combinations. He landed jab and hook combinations, changing angles each time. Using a tight guard, he got past Geffrard and landed more hooks to the body. Geffrard’s corner told him before the third round that Smith didn’t want to be in the middle with him, and Geffrard was able to land some body and face shots. He was playing closer to the vest. However, it was the only push Geffrard had. Smith would move away from the middle and try to punish Geffrard in the corner.
Smith opened Round 4 with body shots; Geffrard responded with punches. A big overhand from Smith set up two uppercuts and multiple left-right combinations. Geffrard tried to get tough by provoking Smith, but Smith didn’t change his game plan. The champion continued to land volume shots in the fifth, clipping Geffrard and pushing him back. While Geffrard hit crisp shots in the fifth and combinations in the sixth, Smith continued to press forward. After six rounds, Smith had thrown approximately 474 punches; He threw 665 punches in total in the fight.
Geffrard tried to regain control of the center of the ring in the seventh, but Smith quickly responded. While he was tight with his defense, Geffrard’s offense didn’t reciprocate. It was later revealed that Geffrard’s left arm was injured from multiple blows to the area. He managed to land combinations in the eighth, but Smith continued his assault.
Round 9 was uncharted territory for Geffrard and Smith took advantage. He pushed Geffrard into the corner, landed multiple punches that rocked him, and then knocked him down with an uppercut. Everything ended after that.
According to Compu Box, Smith connected on 233 shots to Geffrard’s 81. Smith hit 20 or more shots in a round seven times and 30+ shots three times.
Smith successfully defended the WBO light heavyweight title for the first time. He was supposed to face Callum Johnson, but Johnson was pulled after testing positive for COVID-19. Smith has won four in a row and looks to face WBC and IBF light heavyweight champion Artur Beterbiev in a unification fight sometime this year. He is also interested in facing Saul “Canelo” Alvarez, and Canelo has shown interest in the division again.
“If I have Beterbiev next and I beat him, I want (Dmitry) Bivol next and unify all the belts. Become the unified champion and then take out the pound-for-pound king,” Smith said.
“If Canelo wants to come to 175 and fight me, I’m ready for him. That’s the fight I want. Everyone would love to see that fight. It would be a big problem,” he added.
Geffrard (18-3, 12 KOs) lost for the first time since 2013, ending an 18-fight win streak.