The 23-year-old fighter, who won the title last August by stopping Ghanaian Joseph Laryea in four rounds, was making his first defense and didn’t get a walkover-opponent in the skilled and tough challenger Smith (25) from Las Vegas.
This was Menard´s third straight fight at the Evangeline Downs, and, as has become custom, his many loyal fans turned up to support.
And the support from his fans may have played a big factor in the champions ability to dig deep to grind out the victory in what turned out to be a brutal fight.
Menard dropped Smith to the canvas in the first and third rounds, but couldn’t keep him down, going the 12-round distance.
Both boxers put on excellent, gritty performances, but Menard seemed to land more in most rounds and often appeared to be spurred on by the cheers from the Acadiana crowd.
After twelve fast-paced rounds of boxing, the judges scored the bout 117-109, 115-110 and 119-107 in favor of Menard, who improved his professional record to 20-1 (14).
Smith dropped to 14-4 (10), and didn’t yet fulfill his goal of becoming his family’s third world champion after father Lonnie Smith, Sr. and uncle Eddie Mustafa Muhammad.
Also on the fight card was young 18-year-old Dylon Hollier, who took on 30+ fight veteran Anthony Adams. In just three rounds, Hollier recorded his first professional win with a third-round knock out.
In a see-saw battle, Bailey “Bang Bang” took on Mike Thompson. Bailey recorded the hard fought win, moving him to 9-1-5 KO’s.
Chris Singleton came to town fresh off three straight victories out of Illinois, looking to do all his hometown fans proud against Mario Lacey. Entering with a mere four professional bouts, Singleton knocked the stuffing out of Lacey, moving his stats to 5-0-3 KO’s.
Travis Scott came to town once again to prove he is a great talent and the real deal in the boxing game. Scott scored his tenth victory in as many fights over Sean Wilson with a perfect 10-0-2 KO’s slate.
Cody “The Kid” Richard literally brought the entire city of Orange, Texas with him to Opelousas. Richard out-gunned Lincoln Bond and moved to 10-0-5 KO’s in his early pro career.
“Summer Heat At The Downs” was promoted by Boxncar Promotions, and also featured an exciting undercard that saw debutant Dylan Hollier and prospects Bailey Bobbit, Chris Singleton, Travis Scott and Cody Richard come out victorious.