Julian Smith provided an early entrant for 2024 Upset of the Year with a stunningly one-sided stoppage win over previously unbeaten Orestes Velazquez. Smith—a legally deaf boxer from the greater Chicago area—scored four knockdowns on the night and Velazquez’s corner pulled the plug after the ninth round of their DAZN-aired co-feature Friday evening from Caribe Royale Resort in Orlando, Florida. Velazquez fell into an early hole when Smith floored the unbeaten Miami-based Cuban late in the opening round. Smith promised to take the fight directly to the polished Cuban prospect and quickly made his mark. A right hand rocked Velazquez, who was then clipped by a left hook and right hand temple shot to produce the first knockdown of the night.
Smith applied heavy pressure in rounds two and three. Velazquez was down again in round three, though it ruled a slip. He took advantage of the blown call and came alive in the middle rounds. Smith tried to fight from the southpaw stance but it did not produce any positive results. Velazquez thought he turned the tide but saw the bout completely unravel in round eight. A clash of heads left him with a cut over the right eye. Smith continued to come forward but Velazquez was able to land with his right hand. However, he was deducted one point for excessive holding, after which he attempted to make up the difference. Smith was left open for three right hands by Velazquez as both boxers stumbled to the canvas. Referee Massimo Montanini inexplicably issued a count for Velazaquez, who shook his head in disbelief. It proved moot as Smith put away the fight for good in the ninth. Velazquez suffered two more knockdowns late in the round and was sent down after the bell, though waved off by the referee.
The sequence was the last piece of in-ring action for the bout. Head trainer Ismael Salas informed the referee that Velazquez (8-1, 7KOs) was done for the night, as he suffered his first career defeat. Smith advanced to 8-2 (5KOs) with by far the biggest victory of his career. It came in his third straight appearance on Most Valuable Promotions’ CELSIUS – sponsored MVProspects series, where he has now won his last two contests. Jake Donovan is a senior writer for themusicboxingmachine.com. X (formerly Twitter): @JakeNDaBox