Joe Smith Jr. can envision a fast track to a cruiserweight title.
It has to begin with a win this weekend, of course. Assuming that he is able to get past former WBO super middleweight titlist Gilberto ‘Zurdo’ Ramirez, Smith has designs on immediately calling out anyone with a belt at his new weight.
“I believe a win over Zurdo can get me rated as a top cruiserweight,” Smith told BoxingScene.com. “Then I can get a shot at one of the champions there and become a two-division world champion.”
Smith (28-4, 22KOs) will likely enter the ring at a career heaviest weight this Saturday on DAZN from Chelsea Ballroom at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas. The full-time union worker has never weighed more than 181 ¾ pounds for a fight, and that came more than a decade ago.
The contracted weight limit will allow both Smith and Ramirez (44-1, 30KOs) to weigh as much as 183 pounds at Friday’s official pre-fight weigh-in. Ramirez also makes his divisional debut, though more so out of necessity for the Mexican southpaw.
Smith has not fought since a second-round knockout to Artur Beterbiev in their lineal, WBC, IBF and WBO light heavyweight unification last June 18 in New York City. The 34-year-old from the Mastic hamlet of Eastern Long Island, New York envisions a return to the win column on a night where he ruins Ramirez’s bid to one day add a third divisional title and will place himself on a path to win his second crown.
“I am looking forward to seeing what this fight brings,” admitted Smith. “If everything goes my way and I have a great night, I hope I can get a shot at a cruiserweight champion or something like that.
“All the [cruiserweight] champions are great fighters. I’d love to face any one of them.”
Ramirez is listed as a -200 favorite to prevail according to Fan Duel sportsbook, which has Smith as a +182 underdog to
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox