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Joe Smith Edges Out Maxim Vlasov In Entertaining Light Heavy Collision

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Nope, I had no clue which way it would go as I waited to hear what David Sutherland, Pat Russell and Gerald Ritter thought about the WBO light heavyweight title fight between Joe Smith from Long Island and Russian Maxim Vlasov.

It was trending tough for Smith late in the fight, on Saturday night in Tulsa, Oklahoma, as the Russian, a herky jerky sort who has a great chin and showed an admirable absence of rust after a long (17 months)  layoff, went on a streak in rounds 8, 9, 10 of the ESPN/Top Rank main event. But Smith listened to his corner, reminding him not that gently what the stakes were. So he roared back and was the busier man in round 11 and round 12 at Osage Casino.

Joe Smith and trainer Jerry Capobianco, two Long Island guys who were not expected to get to this level.

That served him well as Sutherland saw a tight fight, at 114-114. Ritter went for Smith, 115-112, and Pat Russell liked Smiths’ work a notch better, 115-113.

“It’s a great feeling,” said the power hitter, who found a home for his right, but learned quick that Vlasov’s chin hadn’t degraded during his time off. “It was definitely a close, tough fight. I give it to Vlasov. Great fighter. He really put on a great show tonight and toughed it out. I believe that round where I hurt him there… I believe he had his head down, and I should’ve got the knockout. I think I would’ve got the stoppage that {11th} round, but he pulled it off and made it out on his feet. I believe I got the victory tonight because they saw I landed the harder shots. He landed a lot of punches. It was a great fight.”

And so what’s next for the 31 year old Smith, who can probably almost ditch the tree servicing company if he wants to? “I want the other belts. I want the big fights out there. Now I gotta get back in the gym and keep working on my technique and stuff. I believe I’m going to start unifying belts.”

Vlasov, age 34, had his say after the event: “This was a very hard-fought, competitive fight,” the Russian said. “I thought I was winning rounds and was well ahead. Against the aggressive style of Joe Smith, I came forward the entire fight. I felt confident I was winning and was securing rounds in the bank with the judges. I never felt that I was behind at any stage of the fight.This was my opportunity to show the world I was a world champion and I did that and Joe Smith knows I did that.”

Editor/publisher Michael Woods became addicted to boxing in 1990, when Buster Douglas shocked the world with his demolition of the fearsome Mike Tyson. The Brooklyn-based journalist Woods has covered the sport since then, for ESPN The Magazine, ESPN.com, ESPN New York, RING, and he was editor of TheSweetScience.com from 2007-2015. Woods is also an accomplished blow by blow and color man, having done work for Top Rank, DiBella Entertainment, EPIX, and numerous other organizations.

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