When Saturday rolls around, Joe Smith Jr. will finally be able to walk into the ring and defend his WBO light heavyweight title. However, he will face a very different opponent than expected.
Smith will now fight Steve Geffrard on ESPN. His original opponent, Callum Johnson, tested positive for COVID-19 a few days ago, upsetting the showdown. The fight will take place inside the Turning Stone Resort Casino in Verona, New York.
“I give Steve credit for taking this fight on short notice,” Smith said in a statement. “He’s a tough guy and I hope he brings everything he has for this opportunity. I’m ready to fight no matter who he is.” in the ring with me. My goal is the same, which is to defend my world title and keep it on Long Island, where it belongs. “
Smith made his professional debut in 2009. He beat Maxim Vlasov in April to win the WBO light heavyweight title. Umar Salamov was originally supposed to face Smith for the title in October at Madison Square Garden’s Hulu Theater, but Smith tested positive for COVID-19 and was in hospital for a few days.
Geffrard, an unranked fighter, was supposed to fight Gonzalo Andreassen on January 8, but was pulled for this match to happen.
The Miami native made his professional debut in 2013. Since losing two in a row to start his career, he has won 18 in a row. His last fight was a unanimous decision victory over Denis Grachev in March, the first time he has fought since 2018. The 31-year-old has 12 wins by knockout.
The WBO is expected to approve this showdown despite the last minute announcement. Just outside of the top 15 within the WBO rankings, Geffrard is looking to make an immediate impact thanks to this change.
“This is the opportunity of a lifetime,” Geffrard said. “It’s crazy how boxing works. At one point, I’m thinking about boxing on a local show, then the phone rings for a chance to fight for the WBO world title on ESPN. Unreal!”