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The Cyber Boxing Zone Newswire
Feb 3, 2001
Heavyweight China Smith
By Joe Bruno
Thereıs a new heavyweight on the horizon, and he has the sweet name of China Smith.

The six-foot, one-inch, 220-pound Smith, basically a heavyweight baby at only 21 years of age, returned to his hometown of Sarasota, Florida Friday night and systematically dismantled Mike McGrady at Robards Arena via the three knockdown rule at 1:55 of the first round. Smith raised his record to 18-0, with all his 18 wins coming by knockout.

As McGradyıs 8-15 record showed, he came into Sarasota as basically an opponent for the multi-talented southpaw Smith. But that didnıt deter McGrady from making a fight out of it. At the opening bell, McGrady charged across the ring, firing wild punches that seemed to emanate from his hometown of Pittsburgh. (McGrady calls himself the "Detroit Assassin,"so maybe geography wasnıt his best subject in school.

"I hit him with my best right hand right on the chin, " McGrady said. "And it didnıt even faze him.²

Smith used compact combinations to drive the wild-swinging McGrady backwards. A minute into the round, crisp right hook on top of the head, dropped McGrady to the canvas. He was up at four, looking more embarrassed than hurt, and he took referee Max Parkerıs Jr.ıs standing eight count.

Smith maneuvered McGrady into a neutral corner and fired a short, crisp three-punches combination, right hook, left cross, right hook, that was truly a thing of beauty. All three punches landed in a flash, flush on McGradyıs chin. He went down in a sitting position against the ropes, a pained expression on his face.

McGrady sported a crooked grin, as he spoke to the press afterwards. "I can still feel that three-punch combination right now."

McGrady pulled himself to his feet at eight, and stood on shaky legs, like a young colt on his hoofs for the first time. Another flurry of blows and, a shoulder block by the charging Smith, who was a standout running back at local Riverview High, and McGrady was on his back again. Without counting, Ref Parker Jr. waved the fight over.

Smith was asked if he was disappointed that the fight didnıt last longer. "I get enough work in the gym every day,"Smith said. "When it's time to fight I want to get it over with as quickly as possible."

"We didn't have to go looking for him, he came to us and that made it real easy," Smith added.

Smith is trained by veteran Henry Grooms, and is promoted by Steven Diaco.

"China is only a baby at 21,"Diaco said. "He turned pro at 18, but he really only had a handful of amateur fights. Weıre moving him up slowly, and trying to raise the level of competition each time. This was only his second scheduled 10-rounder and it only went one round.²

Smith is scheduled to fight again on March 17th in Tampa, and Diaco said he also has plans to bring China back to Sarasota at least once later in the year.

"The city of Sarasota showed tonight it can support boxing,"Diaco said. "We had a sellout with more than 3800 seats being sold.²

Diaco couldıve sold even more seats, as dozens of fight fans were turned away at the doors. Unlike, some small town fight cards, the Sarasota crowd was loud, but not unruly. The security was tight and effective, and was supplemented by Sarasota Police Officers, who did a good job of keeping fans in check. Incidentally, Diaco has to pay for the local police presence out of his own pocket, but it was money well spent.

Tickets cost a mere $30, $20 and $10, and local fight fan Neal McMahon was pleased with the bang he got for his buck.

"It was a great night out for the city of Sarasota,"McMahon said. "I saw China Smith fight in Tampa at the beginning of his career, and it was nice to see him fight back here in his hometown. Iıd definitely come back here to see him fight again. Who know? With the heavyweight division in the shape itıs in, China Smith could become world champion. He certainly has the talent.²

Truthfully, with McGradyıs heart, but limited talents, it was hard to tell how good China Smith really is. But these eyes have seen lots of heavyweights while covering the boxing scene for the past 25 years, and not too many come to mind with the hand-speed and power of Smith. Plus heıs a southpaw, and leftys give even the best heavyweights fits when they face them in the ring.

And the first name China itself is a great marketing tool for Diaco. For those who think China Smith, nicknamed "The Dragon², made up his first name for these same marketing purposes, think again. His fatherıs name is China Smith too. The senior Smith was also a star high school football player in Sarasota. He helped lead Cardinal Mooney to its only football state championship in 1972. The senior Smith was also a star amateur boxer, but he gave up a pro career to start raising a family.

Due to the strict influence of his father and mother, China is respectful almost to a fault. He calls all older people "Sir"and no one has ever heard him utter the curse words that spew from the mouths of some of todayıs over-prices and over-pampered sports stars.

"He has always been a gentleman," his Riverview football coach John Sprague said. "His dad and momma raised him that way. I don't think he has ever been disrespectful to an adult."

Maybe the China Smith Jr. does have the talent to top the division. To the experienced eye, thatıs certainly a possibility. And in the seamy world of boxing, worse things could certainly happen.

To those who doubt that, I give you two words: Mike Tyson.

Enough said.
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