When Long Island, New York’s, Joe Smith Jr. (26-3, 21 KOs) takes on Russia's Maxim Vlasov (45-3, 26 KOs) for the vacant WBO light heavyweight championship on April 10th on ESPN in Oklahoma, he has the opportunity to engrain his name among Long Island boxing royalty. Long Island, compromised of just two counties, Nassau and Suffolk, has a strong home-grown boxing population. Boxing gyms are scattered across the island breeding both amateur and professional talent. However [according to Star Boxing], only four Long Island born boxers have ever held an elusive world title. In 1988, Buddy McGirt (73-6-1, 48 KOs) became the first Long Island born champion. Hailing from Brentwood, Long Island, McGirt would go on to have a hall of fame career, becoming a three-time champion.
In 2011 Star Boxing started its critically acclaimed Long Island series, “Rockin’ Fights.” Five years from the series inception, but 38 years after McGirt’s championship, Long Island had its second champion when Chris Algieri (24-3, 9 KOs) won the WBO junior welterweight title. In an incredible effort, Algieri got off the canvas to beat the “Russian Rocky” Ruslan Provodnikov in 2016.
The effort to build Long Island boxing continued when, in 2019, Coram Long Island born Marine, Jamel Herring (22-2, 10 KOs) won the WBO super featherweight title against Japan's Masayuki Ito.
Also, while not usually counted among Long Island born-and-bred champions, recognition must be given to former champion, Jake Rodriguez, who resides in Central Islip Long Island, but was born in Puerto Rico.
With a win on April 10th, Smith will join the Mount Rushmore of Long Island boxing royalty. “Bringing that title back to Long Island is everything I have worked for” said Smith. “It will be a big accomplishment for me, and it will lead to bigger and better fights.”
In “Common Man” fashion, this fight has not come without its hurdles. Originally scheduled for February 13th, but later postponed due to Vlasov testing positive for the coronavirus, Smith has found his silver lining, “I am putting in the work and I should be in even better shape than I was the first time. I have been through a lot of up and downs in my career, but I believe this is going to be the time that I win the world championship. It’s going to be a great night.”
“We have had tremendous support from Long Island boxing fans and it is very rewarding to see the World Championship belts here again. Joe Smith Jr is a thrilling fighter and we look forward to having another home-grown Long Island World Champion. Be sure to watch ESPN on April 10th and support Joe Smith Jr. in his quest to win the World Championship.” stated Smith's promoter, Joe DeGuardia, the President of Star Boxing.
Promoted by Top Rank, in association with Joe DeGuardia's Star Boxing, the Smith-Vlasov World Championship card will be televised live on ESPN and ESPN Deportes on April 10th at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT.