Union Laborer to box on HBO
Irish Joe Smith "The Beast" of Laborers Local 66 fights this Saturday night on HBO Boxing After Dark
Long Island Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO: On Saturday, July 15th Laborers Local 66's own Joe Smith Jr. Joe has brought a lot of attention to our local labor movement by routinely talking about working as a union laborer when he is not fighting. The fight will be a part of HBO's Boxing After Dark, Smith's third fight on National TV. Joe is currently the WBC International Light Heavyweight Titleholder. The fight is scheduled as part of a card that begins at 9:50 PM on Saturday night. Good luck Joe, we are all rooting for you.
General Building Trades Laborers Local 66: I am proud to announce that this Saturday Laborers 66's champ Joe Smith Jr. will be back on HBO in his next fight. Joe (23-1, 19 KOs) will be taking a risky fight this summer against the big punching Sullivan Barrera (19-1, 14 KOs) on July 15 the Forum in Inglewood, California. Joe has the entire division scared and all of the champs are refusing to fight him for fear that they will get knocked out by the Irish Bomber. More details are below. I know I speak for the entire local when I tell Joe that we arell a rooting for him and we know that he will keep the winning streak alive. - Steve Flanagan, Business Manager
Check out this video from 2016, where UCOMM's Kris LaGrange sits down to talk with Joe Smith Jr. at his union hall in Melville, New York.
NY Post: Boxing Title Contender Still Has His Day Job Pouring Concrete
Joe Smith Jr. found boxing in a very familiar manner. As a 13-year-old growing up in Shirley on the South Shore of Long Island, Smith was the oldest of seven brothers and one sister, and wasn’t afraid of a good scrap with anyone inside or outside of his family.
So when his mother sent him to live with his father, the first thing Joe Smith Sr. did was take his teenage son to a boxing gym.
“He saw I was getting in fights in school and outside of school, so he brought me to the gym,” Smith Jr. told the Post. “He said, ‘If you want to fight, you can fight here.’ I ended up doing pretty good against a guy who had been in the gym for a few years. I’ve stuck with it since.”
Smith is 27 now and faces the biggest fight of his career on Dec. 17 when he steps in against Philadelphia native Bernard Hopkins. HBO will televise from the Forum in Inglewood, Calif., in what is expected to be the final fight of the 51-year-old Hopkins’ legendary career.
Smith views it as the launching pad for his career. A victory would position him for a chance at a light heavyweight title and lucrative purses in future bouts.
“Each fight I win brings more opportunities,” Smith said. “I can’t wait to see what I get out of this one. I want to get a title shot as soon as possible. That’s the main goal. Get the title shot and make some money.”
Making money is important. Smith has spent the past eight years as a Union 66 Laborer when he’s not training for a fight. It’s a job he was glad to have after the birth of his daughter Leanna, now 8.
“It’s labor work,” Smith said. “Patching concrete, pouring concrete, smashing down walls with sledgehammers, digging up dirt, all kinds of jobs all over the Island from here to the city. It’s tough work. But there are good people there who try to help you out.”
Many of his fellow union members from Long Island to California will be in Inglewood supporting Smith (22-1, 18 KOs) when “The Irish Bomber” takes on Hopkins (55-7-2, 32 KOs), who is fighting for the first time since losing to Sergey Kovalev in November 2014.
“He’s the kind of guy that union workers and all workers can identify with,” said Smith’s promoter, Joe DeGuardia of Star Boxing. “You get up in the morning. You go to work. You come home. He’s the traditional American looking to get ahead in life. Because of it all the union guys can identify with him. They’re all interested in Joe.”
A good laborer doesn’t waste time finishing a job, and that’s true of Smith in the ring. He earned the fight against Hopkins after scoring a huge upset in June by knocking out top light heavyweight contender Andrzej Fonfara in the first round of a nationally televised bout in Chicago.
Smith dropped Fonfara with a hard right hand with a minute left in the round. Fonfara got up, but was finished by another right hand behind a left hook.
“He may have under-estimated me a little bit, but I still believe he trained hard,” Smith said. “I caught him with a nice shot and got him out of there early. If I get somebody in trouble, I’m a good finisher.”
A 2008 Golden Gloves champion is now grateful his father took him to the gym when he was 13 to keep him out of trouble.
“There were a lot of times when things got rough and I didn’t want to go to the gym,” Smith said. “But my trainer [Jerry Capobianco] and my father pushed me every day and told me this is what I’ve got to do. I took their advice and kept going with it. That’s why we’re here today.”
by George Willis of the NY Post Sports Section