The light heavyweight division has a new face, and his name is Joe Smith, Jr. In one of boxing’s shockers of the year, Star Boxing’s Long Island knockout artist known as "The Irish Bomber" (22-1, 18 KOs) stunned the heavily-favored power-puncher Andrzej Fonfara (28-4, 16 KOs) with a first round TKO in the scheduled 10-round light heavyweight main event on Premier Boxing Champions (PBC) on NBC on Saturday night (June 18) at UIC Pavilion in Chicago.
Smith first floored his opponent with a monstrous, punishing overhand right, and Fonfara was down in the center of the ring. The furious onslaught continued with a flurry of punches that had the hometown favorite Fonfara reeling, culminating with jaw-jarring left hook that had him down a second time, and the bout was halted. Fonfara was unable to withstand the barrage from the concrete fists of the Union 66 construction worker, and referee Hector Afu stopped the annihilation at 2:32 of the opening round. The end result: Smith’s brutal and perfectly-executed demolition becomes a leading candidate for upset of the year.
"I expected it to go 10 rounds because he’s a great fighter," an elated Smith told NBC in the ring. "I trained harder for this fight than I ever have, and came here to prove a point that I belong in the ring with the best.
"I was trying to stay on top of him because once I started hitting him, he left himself open," added Smith. "I caught him with the over hand right. When I see someone hurt, I’m a finisher, and was determined to get him out.
"There’s no feeling like this. I’m happy to take this victory back home to New York to all my fans," Smith wrapped up later. "Now everybody knows who I am. This is the best thing that could have happened.
Promoter Joe DeGuardia said "I am so proud of Joe. He worked hard and earned a sensational victory. He’s a true example of the American spirit. We’ve been fortunate on Long Island to have seen him at our shows at the Paramount and now the world will be able to witness his rising star first hand."
Fonfara was eyeing a rematch with the WBC light heavyweight champion Adonis Stevenson, who he lost two in a close decision two year ago. Fonfara had beaten both Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. and Nathan Cleverly before Smith foiled his plans.
Representing Long Island, New York, Smith Jr. was making his national television debut and it was a beauty. It was his 16th straight victory.
The 26-year-old was a highly decorated amateur who won the 2008 New York Golden Gloves with a victory over Seanie Monaghan. A member of the Local 66 Laborers Union between fights and the oldest of eight siblings, Smith Jr. by far picked up his most impressive victory of his career.