Recently at a press conference in the City of Brotherly Shove I talked with Philly Light Heavyweight Dhafir “No Fear” Smith. He had some 59 fights in his 14 years of boxing. He told me “I’ve been in over 50 training camps” and hope to be in camp with Sergey “Krusher” Kovalev (WBO Light heavyweight champion) next for his August 4th fight (for new Atlantic City Hard Rock Hotel & Casino).
Smith has the best JAB in Philadelphia! With the right management he would have fought for a world title years ago. Instead there were short notice fights, heavier opponents and many bad decisions not going his way!
Smith’s boxing career started back in March of 2001 before fighting at the Essington Lagoon Nightclub in his 4th, 5th, 7th and 8th fights all in 2001 going 8-0. Then he had back to back draws With Ron Boddie and Clarence “Sonny Bono” Taylor, of DE. He reversed the draw to Taylor in their next fight. He was held to a draw in DE to a DE boxer Larry Marks. “He was one of the best underrated fighters in the world,” said Damon Feldman (promoted his first 8 fights). In January of 2003 Smith defeated popular Philly fighter Joe Christy, 3-3-1, over 6 rounds. Smith lost in NJ to NJ boxer Dennis Sharpe, 13-0, a fight once again in the opponents home state otherwise it would have been Smith getting the win.
From then on for Smith it was short notice fights in other states and even other countries. He would make just as much if not more serving as a sparring partner in training camps. He fought from 160 to 179 pounds during his career even taking on heavyweights.
The highlight of his career is when he defeated former IBF/IBO Super Middleweight champion Jeff “Left Hook” Lacy in December of 2010. This put Smith into the world ratings. “I have been in dozens of camps by choice. I have made connections over the years,” said Smith. He normally trained out of the James Shuler Memorial Gym in West Philadelphia that his trainer Buster Custus owns.
Smith was born in Philadelphia but at age 11 his mother moved him to Upper Darby, just outside of Philadelphia. He started boxing at the Shuler Gym at age 14 but do to transportation problems returned to the Upper Darby Gym above the fire house run by Andy Carr a Martial Arts Master.
I saw him get the better of one time USBA champion Yusaf “Mack Attack” Mack in an exhibition at the gym. “Difference here is I don’t get paid,” said Smith. The problem is after the win over former champ Lacy he fought Jesus “El Martillo” Gonzalez, 25-1, who had several hundred amateur fights. It was for the vacant IBF North American Super Middleweight title and Smith lost over 12 rounds.
Smith has 7 draws on his record and you can figure he won 7 of those fights. In June of 2003 Smith lost to Canadian southpaw Ian Gardner, 12-1, whose claim in fame was in his next to last fight he lost an 8 round decision to current WBA and WBC middleweight champion Gennady “GGG” Golovkin, who is 38-0-1 with 34 knockouts. Making Gardner only one of four boxers to go the distance against the then 10-0 now world champion. Speaking of “GGG” Smith was later in training camp with him and he said “he hit’s like a heavyweight. It was the hardest camp but one of the best being “GGG” was a good person and took care of those who worked with him.
After the Gardner fight Smith beat a couple of Reading, PA, boxers one being Jose Aponte, 18-25-3, stopping him in the first round. Next was Bobby Heath, 25-12-5,
Then for Smith it was off to Moscow for the WBC Youth World Light heavyweight title getting stopped by Sergey Karanevich, 15-4. “I was winning by tired by the fifth round. We arrived in Russia 2-3 days before the fight. I needed a week to get over “jet lag,” said Smith.
Then Smith was back at the legendary Blue Horizon defeating Poland’s Tomasz Nowak, 8-2-1, by split decision on ESPN2. Then he lost in Florida to Shaun George, 8-0-1, whose next fight was winning the IBC Americas Cruiserweight title. Another questionable Five weeks after the George fight Smith was back in Russia again going for the WBC Youth World Super Middleweight title this time. He lost to Russian southpaw Artur Shekhmurzov, 10-0-1, by stoppage in five rounds. His conqueror retired at 14-0-1.
Then back to square one Smith won over Deandre McCole at the Essington Night Club. Next fight started his longest losing streak of 8 fights starting in Rzeszow, Poland, losing to Dawid “Gypsy” Kostecki, 15-0, over 10 rounds. A low blow from Kostecki in the 6th round gave Smith 2 minutes rest but it took 2 rounds to get back to being able to return to form. WBC representative Rex Walker told Smith “you won that fight!” Kostecki’s mother rushed into the ring crying due to the cut over her son’s eye. The fight was on POLISH PPV Kostecki retired at 39-2 (25), after his second loss in 2014.
Losing to undefeated fighters like Chuckie Cavallo, Max Alexander and Wayne Johnson were all disputed losses. Then he lost to Derrick Whitley, 22-23-3, in his home town of Mansfield, MASS. “I had no problem with that loss. Like me, he took last minutes fights against tough opposition,” said Smith. Disputed losses followed against James McAllister, 9-5-1, Henry Buchanan, 11-0 (fought on the “Contender” series), and Jameson Bostic, 5-3.
After these losses Smith took on Indiana’s Nick Cook, 14-1, from Indiana ending with a disputed draw over 6 rounds. Cook retired with a 16-1-1. Following were two wins and a draw against a pair of undefeated boxers Henry Mayes, 5-0, and Mike Paschall, 10-0. Just 17 days later he won his first title defeating Kippy Warren, 17-5-2, for the WBF All American Light Heavyweight title by majority decision in Raleigh, NC, over 10 rounds in October 2006.
Five weeks later the Pennsylvania boxer named Smith fought for the USA New York State Light Heavyweight title against future world contender Curtis Stevens, 14-1, losing a disputed decision over 10 rounds. Stevens lost in January of this year bringing his record to 29-6. He lost one of them to WBA Middleweight champion Golovkin in 2013 being stopped in 8.
In January of 2007 Smith was left with a disputed draw against Omar Pittman, 13-3, at the New Alhambra, in Philadelphia. Four months later he took on Olympic Gold Medalist and future world Super Middleweight champion Andre “S.O.G” Ward, 11-0, getting stopped in 6. This would not be the last time he saw Ward. He had been in two training camps with him. Ward thought Smith was tough enough in their fight that he would need one as good a boxer as him in camp. “He’s (Ward) one of the best skilled and smart boxers I’ve been in with. I had to lose 6 pounds the day of the fight to make weight. He is a very good person who would give you the shirt off his back,” said Smith.
After the Ward fight Smith went 4-0-1, starting with Olympic Trials boxer Brandon Mitchem, 25-4-1, Jonathan Reid, 34-6, disputed draw with Larry Marks, 29-9, defeating John Johnson 12-1, and Rayco Saunders, 15-8-2. Two months later Smith was out of the country again in Canada against current WBC Light Heavyweight champion southpaw Adonis “Superman” Stevenson, 10-1, losing by 5th round stoppage for the vacant Continental Americas Super Middleweight title.
Then Smith lost to Nigerian Kingsley Ikeke, 23-3, by a disputed split decision and Jerson Ravelo, 18-3 by a razor sharp decision in 8. Then again he went 4-0-1 with the Lacey fight being the last of the five. In January 2012 back in Philadelphia he beat Quentin Rankin, 4-1, and won his second title fight defeating Tony “Boom Boom” Ferrante, 12-3, for the USA Pennsylvania State Light Heavyweight title.
Following the Ferrante fight Smith had Cuban Umberto Savigne, 9-1, on the canvas before losing a 10 round decision in Sunrise, FL, for the WBA Fedelatin Light Heavyweight title. Matchmaker Johnny Bos was there and told this writer “Dhafir won that fight!” In April 2013 he lost a disputed majority decision to Anthony Caputo Smith, 13-1, for his USA Pennsylvania Light Heavyweight title. I even told Caputo Smith afterwards “you lost that fight!”
In Smith’s last year of fighting in 2014 he won a decision and then lost to southpaw Tommy Karpency, 22-4-1, over 10 rounds in Washington, PA, (outside of Pittsburgh) in a fight I attended. He said afterwards “you know I can’t fight a southpaw!” In his next fight Karpency defeated former IBF World Light Heavyweight champion Chad Dawson, and two fights later he lost to WBC World Light Heavyweight champion Stevenson.
Smith was in training camps with a pair of Canadians in Stevenson and southpaw former WBA World Super Middleweight champion Lucian “Le Tombeur” Bute. Referring to Bute he said “he is a good slick southpaw who punches hard with 18 oz. gloves. I trained with him prior to the PA title against Ferrante”.
Smith was in camp with former WBO Light Heavyweight and WBC Cruiserweight champion Zolt Erdei, of Hungary. “He has a very sharp jab like mine. He is a slick and strong southpaw,” said Smith. Smith gives credit for his jab to former boxer and then trainer Jimmy Beecham.
When Golovkin was training to defend against the No. 1 super welterweight contender Philadelphia’s Gabe “King” Rosado, Smith who was in camp with Golovkin! “He and Ward would be some fight,” said Smith. Golovkin’s manager Tom Loeffler said “we were very satisfied with Dhafir in camp”. Smith spent 5 weeks in camp with Golovkin.
Finally Smith talked about his 50 some training camps. He was in camp with Arthur Abraham the former IBF Middleweight and WBO Super Middleweight champion 10 times! With WBC Super Middleweight champion Sakio Bika 4 times, Germany’s WBA Light Heavyweight champion Jurgen Brahmer 3 times, current IBF Light Heavyweight champion Artur Beterbiev in Canada, both USBA champ Edwin Rodriguez and Joe Smith who was tough and very strong in New England, in camp with Stevenson twice in Detroit after losing to him. Manny Steward wanted to sign Smith because he reminded him of another Philly boxer Fred Pendleton who had a so, so record but Steward passed away before Smith could sign the contract. “Steward was a great trainer,” said Smith. In camp with IBF Light Heavyweight champion Karo Murat in Germany. “It was the worst camp I was ever in. When we sparred he used 14 oz. gloves and I used 16 oz. gloves,” said Smith.
Smith was in camp with Brian Vera twice, Germany’s WBA Super Middleweight champion Tyron Zeuge 7 times, Bernard “The Executioner” Hopkins, Cruiserweight champion Steve “USS” Cunningham, both Charlo twins, No. 2 IBF and the light heavyweight contender Marcus Browne 3 times, TZ 7 times, WBO Light Heavyweight and WBC Cruiserweight champion Zsolt Erdei in Philadelphia, IBF Super Middleweight champion Caleb Truax 2 times in Minnesota, IBF Super Middleweight champ Lucian Bute in Montreal, NABO Middleweight champion Randy Griffin, Heavyweight title contender’s Bert Cooper and Malik Scott both in Philadelphia, Heavyweight contenders Travis Kauffman, Eddie Chambers and Super Welterweight Julian Williams. Germany’s Enrico Koelling 3 times, Philly IBF Super Middleweight champion Charles Brewer, Derek Edwards in NC, Sweden’s Erik Skoglund 5 times and we can go on and on.
Being a friend of mine, Smith, agreed to do another interview with me at Shuler’s gym and out having lunch.
KEN HISSNER: You have been in camp with several world champions. Would you say Golovkin was the biggest puncher and Ward the best boxer?
DHAFIR SMITH: Yes
KEN HISSNER: In over 50 training camps which one treated you the best would you say?
DHAFIR SMITH: GGG and Ward
KEN HISSNER: Which training camp was the hardest?
DHAFIR SMITH: GGG
KEN HISSNER: Were you kidding me when you said you couldn’t fight southpaws?
DHAFIR SMITH: I have trouble with them but have beaten more than a couple of them.
KEN HISSNER: You still look like you are in great shape at 35. What do you do besides going to camp to stay in that kind of condition?
DHAFIR SMITH: I have had more fights (59) than any Philly boxer but Bernard Hopkins (65) and I’m looking to pass him in the future.
KEN HISSNER: I want to thank you for taking the time to answer some questions.
DHAFIR SMITH: Anytime. Let me know when it goes up.