|PHILLY BOXING HISTORY April 17, 2013||
Story & Photos by Gary Purfield
Despite coming off his first loss in his last fight, Friday night at Harrahís Casino in Chester Anthony Caputo Smith (13-1, 10 KO) will be taking on the toughest challenge of his young career when he meets veteran Dhafir Smith (26-23-7, 4 KO) for Smithís PA State Light Heavyweight title. Along with coming off his first loss he will face a serious gap in experience against Dhafir who has been in with the elite fighters of the sport, but the decision to take a challenge instead of a simple comeback fight fits his personality. Caputo is a tough fighter willing to take a risk for the reward.
Spending time with Caputo-Smith you find he has a rather refreshing honest perspective of self. He has a ring intelligence not normally evidenced in your classic pressure fighter. Heís a baseball fan that enjoys the intricacies of a classic nine inning pitching duel. He is smart enough to recognize what physical gifts he does and does not have. The twenty seven year old Kennet Square native works for Caputo and Guest Mushrooms in the mushroom business that made Kennet Square famous. He knows he wasnít born to be a slickster but was built to bring pressure and utilize the power he was given in both hands.
Simply put, he may have a boxerís intelligence but has a fighterís heart and physical gifts so he chooses to utilize his tools and train in a manner that best incorporates what he really should be inside the ring. This was evident speaking with him and watching him work at Mike Donohueís Delaware Barbell in Newport, De. The gym suits Caputo. Located in a back strip area the gym is simple but effective sporting an old fashioned tough guy environment with a ring, bags, barbells, and Brazilian Ju-Jitsu training. No frills and nothing fancy. Just old fashioned training to prepare for the roughest of sport.
ďIím not like a dancer or nothing like that. Iím not a real slick boxer. Iím a pressure guy. I like to throw big punches and I stay on you from round to round.Ē
That perspective of self that was mentioned above again came out when asked about his goals in boxing.
ďI just want the biggest fights I can get possible you know. Iím not all I want to fight for a world title and do this. You take one fight at a time and right now itís Dhafir Smith.Ē
Caputo began boxing young and started taking it seriously around nineteen years of age. After a brief amateur career going 9-5 he jumped to the pro ranks where he felt he was far better suited.
Yeah, I didnít like the amateurs cause of the headgear and all the pitty pat. In the pros I can hurt somebody easier.Ē
The pros suit Caputo-Smith. He presents as an old school fighter that wants to show he is tougher than his opponent with the ability to outlast even more skilled boxers breaking them down to earn his wins. He rolled through his first eleven contests winning nine of them by knockout.
Along the way he has picked up quite the fan following as his Kennet faithful come out in droves to Dover Downs in Delaware or where ever else he is fighting. Itís something Caputo Smith takes to heart and has pride in. He wants to represent his hometown and put on show for those that buy tickets to see him.
ďItís good because thereís really not a lot of fighters from there. Just for me I get backing from everybody. I get so much support from Kennet Square and I appreciate it.Ē
In fight twelve he got his first challenge to find out what he was made of. Taking on veteran Douglas Okola 23-7 in December of 2011, Caputo found himself down on the cards and cut over his eye after four rounds of a scheduled six. Caputo-Smith showed his heart dropping Okala in the fifth and finishing him in the sixth. Caputo-Smith believes it was his best moment as a pro so far.
ďProbably Douglas Okola because I got him out in the last round. I was cut early. I was losing so it was sort of a come from behind. It showed I could keep my power late.Ē
The Okola win was followed with a four round decision over Benjamin Diaz in February of 2012. Then he stepped in with hard hitting Kevin Engel 18-6 who was certainly a threat for his known power with sixteen of his eighteen wins coming by knockout. Right off the bat Caputo ran into trouble when Engel broke his nose in the first round leading to a second round knockout loss. It was the first time Caputo Smith had to leave the ring without his hand held high but it would also be a learning experience.
ďThe first punch he caught me with it busted my nose. It didnít hurt me but with all the blood coming out it was like I got to stop this guy now or they are gonna stop the fight so I really opened up. I hurt him a few times but he got me.Ē
ďYou know that happens all the time but the blood was so much that it was like man, I got to knock this guy out. So I was just swinging. He dropped me, I got back up and then they jumped in.Ē
While Caputo doesnít regret the way he fought, he knows itís a lesson well learned to take with him moving forward.
ďAt one point I did say damn, I wish I stuck to the game plan and broke him down but then again you know youíre in the heat of the battle, Iím a warrior man, Iím gonna go all out. Definitely because Iíve been hurt before and Iíve been cut before obviously but with that the blood was just so much and I went crazy. Not taking anything away from him but I could have been a little smarter.Ē
Fortunately for him he does not seem to be having any lack of confidence that often occurs when fighters lose the zero in the loss column. For his part he has learned his lesson and is motivated to use the loss as fuel to move forward.
ďI think it motivates me more. You know to come off a loss. You can take a loss and be down on yourself and depressed about it or you can try and get better, learn from it. Thatís what Iím trying to do.
ďI feel fine. People think Iím crazy but I really think I could have won that fight. All the credit to the guy but I still think I could have won even being busted. I wouldnít take this Dhafir fight if I didnít think I could beat him.Ē
And his confidence better be intact when he steps in with Dhafir Smith. The Philly boxer who has one of the most deceiving records in the sport brings incredible experience from being in the ring with some of the sports best. He has served as chief sparring partner for elite fighters including Andre Ward, Lucian Bute, and Gennady Golovkin. Smith also brings an excellent jab to compliment his high ring IQ.
I asked Caputo Smith why he would take on a Dhafir Smith after suffering his first loss. When stepping back into the ring why would he want a guy who can create such a puzzle for a fighter that could have doubts coming off a loss? His answer showed he seems past any doubts and simply wants to march on taking a climb up the boxing ladder. Simply put, the higher the risk, the better the reward.
ďIf you look at it heís ranked way higher than me. Heís got a little title. Heís got a lot so if I beat him I take all that. So Iím going there to jump a lot of spots. I thought it was a good opportunity.Ē
While he wants what Smith has, Caputo Smith is well aware of what he is up against and what he has to do Friday night to be successful.
ďI know he has a lot of experience and I do respect him but at the same time I got to fight my game. When I put the pressure on him and I keep coming after him you know thatís really how I handle it. I got to fight my game. I canít really worry about him.Ē
ďOh yeah because Iím not training for a banger or someone thatís going to come in and bang with me for ten rounds. Heís a slick boxer, Dhafirís a very slick boxer and I got to work on getting inside and taking the fight to him.Ē
Fortunately for Caputo Smith he will still have his strong fan support Friday night which chose not to abandon him following the loss.
ďItís great, I really appreciate all the support and it makes you feel good after a loss. I think I sold more tickets for this fight than I ever have. You know there still here after I lose. Thatís loyalty and I appreciate it. Thatís why I try to fight as hard as I can. I give everything I have out there. Iíll never quit.Ē
Along with the fan support he has an one more weapon in his corner with trainer Mario Tiberi. He met Tiberi early in his career and the two found a rhythm right away.
ďMario Tiberi, been with him three years. Basically my whole pro career except my first fight. I just worked with him once before my second pro fight and heís been in my corner ever since then. He works me out so hard and you canít ask for anything more than that as a fighter to have a guy like that standing in your corner.Ē
Caputo Smith has found that fighter-trainer relationship with Tiberi that goes far beyond the ring.
ďI just want you to know, I always appreciate my trainer. Always staying by me, sticking with me through everything. Heís kind of like a second father to me and he always works me out really hard. I just want to fight hard for him too.Ē
Tiberi appears to have used the style of fitting the training to the fighter instead of attempting to make the fighter something he is not. Take that fighters ring identity and build on it opposed to forcing him to do things that donít come natural.
ďIím gonna be honest. Iím not the best boxer in the world but he puts me at a level to fight with guys like that. He pushes me that this guy may be a better boxer but Iím going to be able to fight you and fight you hard and the thing with me is I got power in both hands so Iím never out of a fight.Ē
ďHeís not trying to make me a pretty little boxer. He turns me into a guy who is ready to fight for as many rounds as we gotta go and he gets me in best shape possible to do that. At the end of the day itís on me but he does his part.Ē
Then he has one more extra motivation for Friday. His girlfriend is five months pregnant. With a little one on the way he has all the more reason to push harder for a win.
ďActually I have a kid on the way. I just found out itís a girl, today. Itís crazy. Right now, my child Iím going to have. If I want to quit in there I think about that and that pushes me to go harder.Ē
Friday night the Kennet Square native will get a chance to take a big step in his career. The fighter who prides himself on training hard and fighting harder will have to be at his best to overcome the veteran skills of his opponent. It seems he wouldnít want it any other way. Caputo wants to fight hard and never quit. Most of all he wants to do everything he can do to the bitter end to stand tall for those that support him every step of the way.
ďI just appreciate everyone thatís coming to support me and Iím going to go all out and Iíll never quit and this should be a great fight.