Joe Smith had a spectacular 2020, consecutively dominating two world rated light heavyweight challengers on ESPN in Jesse Hart and Eleider Alvarez, and was nominated as the BWAA 2020 Fighter of the Year.
Now the #1 world rated light heavyweight, Smith Jr. (Long Island, NY 26-3 21KO's) is working hard again in his native Long Island hometown preparing for his WBO world championship title bout against Russian veteran Maxim Vlasov (Samara, Russia 45-3 26KO's).
Incredibly, since Smith Jr.'s two impressive victories in 2020, not much has changed in terms of the current COVID world we are all faced with. Social distancing, masks and testing still reign supreme, especially in the worldwide attempts in the sports world to trudge on through the pandemic. How does an elite athlete work around these conditions? This "Common Man," who has become an elite beloved fighter, gets back to his roots.
"I just train because there is nothing else to do," said Smith. "I can't go to the movies, I can't go bowling, so while I sit at home, there are no distractions, that's for sure. As far as conditioning, I do a lot outside and at home."
In an attempt to keep the circle small, Smith Jr. and trainer Jerry Capobianco are lucky enough to have a key to a local Long Island boxing gym where they are able to put in work as Smith Jr.'s thudding punches echo across the otherwise empty gym.
"As far as sparring, my sparring partner and his coach come down and opens their gym for us" said Smith.
"It is one on one, and no one else is around."
Most recently Smith has continued sharpening his skills training with heavyweight Adam "Baby Face" Kownacki, UFC's Randy Brown as well as Star Boxing stalemate, super welterweight Wendy Toussaint.
As for the fight, Smith Jr. knows the work that he is putting in now will pay dividends come fight night against Vlasov.
"Anybody is a dangerous opponent, but I am confident that I am preparing the right way for a tough fight. I know Vlasov is a busy fighter so I will come into this fight in great shape."
Promoted by Top Rank, in association with Joe DeGuardia's Star Boxing, the Smith-Vlasov World Championship fight will be televised live on ESPN and ESPN Deportes on February 13 at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT.