Smith vs Vlasov scoring: Suspect?
Last night, Joe Smith Jr. (27-3, 21 KOs) won a hard-fought majority decision over Maxim Vlasov (45-4, 26 KOs) to claim the vacant WBO light heavyweight title.
Smith vs Vlasov scores were 114-114, 115-113 and 115-112.
It’s not uncommon for the A-side fighter to get the benefit of the doubt in relatively even, hard-to-call rounds.
And Smith, of course, had that luxury going in. But Vlasov appeared to have done enough to separate himself from Smith in at least seven of the 12 rounds.
Vlasov cut Smith in the opening stanza and appeared to frustrate and outwork his foe through the first six rounds. Joe landed the occasional humdinger, but they seemed to be too few and far between to offset Vlasov who was consistently peppering Smith with clean shots and making Joe miss all while controlling the tempo and landing some hard leather of his own at times.
Smith had his moments and delivered a fine performance. However, Vlasov was clearly the ring manager last night and appeared to have unleashed more punishment than he received. Even their body language was telling – Smith looked frustrated throughout while Vlasov appeared confident, and content with his performance.
Joe’s biggest moment came in Round 7 when he landed some big shots and hurt Vlasov, clearly taking the round. But the Russian rebounded well in Round 8, looked borderline dominant in Round 9 and decisively carried Round 10.
Heading into Round 11, a case could be made Vlasov had already pocketed nine rounds.
Smith dug deep to win Rounds 11 and 12 but his efforts seemed to be too little, too late.
A look at the scorecards reveals the judges were generous to Smith in any round that seemed remotely close. In addition to Rounds 7, 11 and 12, the only rounds Smith clearly separated himself from Vlasov, all three judges awarded Smith the majority of rounds between 2 and 6, when Vlasov appeared to be piling up the points and scoring effectively amid a few Smith offensives.
“I never felt that I was behind at any stage of the fight,” insists Vlasov. “This was my opportunity to show the world I was a world champion and I did that and Joe Smith knows I did that.”
B-side fighters are seldom awarded close fights, bouts where both fighters can make a legitimate case for winning. Vlasov shouldn’t have expected to win in that circumstance.
…. But, is that what we saw in Smith vs Vlasov last night?
Even a draw would have been palpable.