By Steve Kim
After being boxing's Cinderella story of 2016, it was Sullivan Barrera who struck midnight for Joe Smith Jr. - who was defeated by the Cuban back on July 15th of last year.
After scoring a big knockdown in the first round, Smith was unable to capitalize as Barrera recovered and outboxed him for the remainder of the fight.
To add insult to injury, Smith suffered a broken jaw early in that contest and has been laid up since.
Smith's promoter, Joe DeGuardia, gave BoxingScene.com an update on his fighter.
"Joe had his operation for his jaw and now he's getting his impacted wisdom tooth pulled - which is what caused the broken jaw in the first place. And it looks like he'll be ready and we'll put him back in May," DeGuardia said.
Two years ago, the union worker from Long Island, New York, burst onto the scene with several big knockout victories.
Coming in as a major underdog, Smith crushed highly ranked contender Andrzej Fonfara in the first round. Fonfara had taken the contest as a stay-busy fight while negotiating terms for a planned rematch with WBC champion Adonis Stevenson.
And the career changer took place in the fall of 2016, when he knocked out future Hall of Famer Bernard Hopkins. It was the final fight of Hopkins' career.
Most likely Smith (23-2, 19 KO's) will get a tune-up bout before going back into the deep waters of the light heavyweight division.
"Look, it's always a fight but it's going to be a fight I'm going to base around him, I'm going to create a show for him," admitted DeGuardia.
During Smith's layoff, a lot has happened at 175. Andre Ward announced his retirement from the sport. Ward vacated all three of his world titles, and now there are three new world champions - as Artur Beterbiev now holds the IBF belt, Dmitry Bivol is the champion of the WBA, and Sergey Kovalev has the WBO's title.
Steve Kim is the news editor for BoxingScene.com.