By Coach “K”
March 31st 1973 at the Sports Arena, San Diego, California, Muhammad Ali lost a split decision to Ken Norton. The fight itself wasn’t special but the circumstances that developed and which Ali fought that fight were severe.
Ali had his jaw broken in the second round and went on to battle the former Marine ten more excruciating rounds. Not to compare young up and coming prospect Joe “The Irish” Bomber Smith Jr. to Ali or even Kenny Norton but the rugged previously unbeaten light heavyweight experienced a shorter but as severe situation in his scheduled six rounder Saturday night.
Smith suffered two severe fractures to his jaw in the last thirty seconds of round two against then displaying more courage and heart than almost anyone not carrying an M-16. The young boxer puncher went on to fight and in my opinion win almost six minutes before succumbing to the pain.
Saturday August 7th on the undercard Havoc Promotions fight card at Aviator Sports in Brooklyn New York Mastic / Shirley Long Island light heavyweight Joe “The Irish Bomber” Smith Jr. 6-0, 6Ko’s fighting his second bout in eleven days taking on Lawrence, Massachusetts heavy handed Eddie “Thunder” Caminero, 6-3, 6Ko’s .
Smith dominated the opening round and was about to bank the second when with about twenty seconds to go in the round the “Irish Bomber” took a combination clearly getting his attention but did not wobble the sturdy gladiator.
In between rounds Smith I witnessed complaining about something while appearing to have pain in his jaw trying to open his mouth and stretch his jaw. The situation was brought to the doctors attention and after a brief examination Smith who was more than willing was allowed to continue.
Smith now less offensive stayed tight defensively taking most of the heavy handed Caminero’s punches on his arms and despite the obvious pain was still able to land the cleaner heavier shots.
It wasn’t until about the 2:50 mark of round four when during a clinch Caminero fired off some in close rabbit style punches in close that Smith succumbed to the pain of what would later be diagnosed as double fractured jaw. Pulling out of the clinch Smith turned his back as if to stop fighting forcing referee Claudio to call the bout at 2: 58 of round four. At the time of the stoppage the judges scorecards read 29-28, Smith 29-28 Caminero and 30 -27 Smith. I also had the bout scored 30-27 Smith but given another two seconds I would have had it 40-36.
Appearing to come suddenly many questioned what happened. After listening to all the speculation of what happened from Smith had a bad tooth, lacerated tongue having seen Smith fight from all the way back in the juniors I knew there was more involved with this tough Gold Glove Champion and previously unbeaten pro.
Reserving my opinion in my article immediately after the bout I made it a point to contact Team Smith. After speaking to Joe Smith Sr. and coaches Phil and Gerry Capobianco who were all at the hospital as Smith Jr. was awaiting surgery I was informed Smith about the double fractured jaw.
I also learned Smith was originally taken to Mercy Hospital where he was referred to specialists at Stony Brook University Hospital where it was then further diagnosed as dual fractures.
When I asked coach Gerry how Joe was doing he told me Joe was more upset about stopping the fight than his injury and is now more anxious to fight than ever. In my conversations with Smith’s very emotional coaches Phil and Gerry C both could not say enough about how proud they were of their charge fighting under those extreme circumstances.
Below is two film studies of Smith’s jaw you tell me your definition of courage and heart!
YouTube Video of Smith fight below
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