By: Marc Livitz :Sullivan Barrera survived a first round knockdown and proceeded to pitch a near shutout for the next nine against Joe Smith, Jr. for the WBC International light heavyweight title at the Forum in Inglewood, California. Smith had received much acclaim last December when he knocked out Bernard Hopkins in the same building, however Saturday night was a much different story.
Barrera’s lone career loss was to Andre Ward sixteen months ago and his efforts against Smith may help to make that defeat fade over time. Each man tested their jabs early in attempts to get in close and connect with something big. Barrera was able to counter and display his vast amateur background. With thirty seconds left in round one, Joe landed a strong left hook to the forehead which sent Sullivan to his backside. He beat the count and looked to go right back to his original strategy as the second was underway. Barrera worked against the body of Smith and followed up at times with uppercuts to the head. Still, Joe would answer with power shots of his own. He landed an overhand right in the opening seconds of round three that seemed to very briefly confuse Smith, after which he continued his assault to the ribs and sides. It seemed as if this would be a case of accuracy against power. Barrera was the more technical fighter and Smith clearly possessed the greater power in terms of a single shot.
Sullivan landed his best punch of the bout in the last minute of the fourth. A well timed right uppercut hurt Smith for a few short seconds. The gap in talent was beginning to show as the man from Long Island, New York was starting to telegraph his wide swinging attempts. Joe moved to a southpaw stance for a few moments late in the fifth round until a right hook from Barrera changed his mind. On occasion throughout the contest, referee Jack Reiss warned each fighter about punching behind the head during tie ups. They traded power shots to highlight the dying moments of the sixth.
The following three minutes consisted much of the Cuban combatant backing up, outworking and out landing Smith. Reiss approached Joe’s corner before the eighth and asked him if he was fit to continue, as the trained eye may have seen the bout becoming a landslide. CompuBox numbers showed a near one hundred punch advantage in terms of connected effort for Sullivan Barrera at this point. He had Smith back pedaling for much of the round. In the opening minute of the ninth as Barrera was landing at will with jabs and left hooks, Joe replied with a hard right to stop the momentum. Before the tenth round commenced, Jack Reiss appeared to mistakenly tell each man that they were entering the final round of a championship contest, which would normally contain twelve.
The news surfaced that the respective promoters of the fighters, Main Event and Star Boxing agreed to shorten the bout to ten as opposed to twelve. Regardless, the contest seemed to be a done deal shortly after the first round knockdown. The three judges at ringside saw the bout 96-93, and two cards each with 97-92. Barrera out landed Smith 187-61 and left the ring with the WBC International light heavyweight belt.
Additional Results from Los Angeles
Mercito Gesta KO 8 Martin Honorio - Lightweight
Manuel Robles, Jr. KO 5 Christian Esquivel - Featherweight Diuhl Olguin UD 8 Horacio Garcia - Featherweight
Recky Dulay KO 3 Jaime Arboleda - Super Featherweight