WBO light heavyweight champion Joe Smith Jr (27-3, 21 KOs) makes the first defense of his title live from Turning Stone Resort Casino in Verona, New York on Saturday, January 15. British contender Callum Johnson, who was originally set to challenge for the belt, tested positive for COVID-19, and was replaced by Steve Geffrard (18-2, 12 KOs) in the scheduled for twelve rounds championship main event.
In the ten-round co-feature, featherweight contender Abraham Nova (20-0, 14 KOs), who was originally slated to take on Jose Enrique Vivas, is now set to fight Dominican veteran William “El Gago” Encarnacion (19-1, 15 KOs). Vivas dropped out with an injury.
Joe Smith Jr vs Steve Geffrard tickets
Smith (27-3, 21 KOs), the fighting pride of Long Island, won the title last April with a majority decision over Maxim Vlasov. His proposed October return was postponed due to a COVID-19 diagnosis, and with Johnson out, he turns his attention to Geffrard (18-2, 12 KOs), a 31-year-old native of Miami, Florida.
“I give Steve credit for taking this fight on short notice,” Smith said. “He is a tough guy, and I expect him to bring everything he has for this opportunity. I’m ready to fight regardless of who 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.”
Geffrard is a nine-year pro who has won 18 straight fights since starting his career 0-2. He upped his record to 18-2 last March, winning an eight-round unanimous decision over longtime contender Denis Grachev. Geffrard had a fight scheduled for Jan. 8 in Delray Beach, Florida, but the “South Florida Cinderella Man” jumped at the chance to fight Smith on eight days’ notice.
Geffrard said, “This is the opportunity of a lifetime. It’s crazy how boxing works. One moment 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!”
The finalized Smith Jr vs Geffrard undercard is expected to be announced shortly. The current lineup can be found below.
Boxing fans can watch the fight live on ESPN and live stream on ESPN+ in the United States, and Sky Sports in the United Kingdom. In Australia and other countries the fight airs live stream on FITE TV.
Smith Jr vs Geffrard fight card
- Joe Smith Jr vs. Steve Geffrard, 12 rounds, light heavyweight – Smith Jr’s WBO light heavyweight title
- Abraham Nova vs. William Encarnacion, 10 rounds, featherweight
- Duke Ragan vs. TBA, 6 rounds, featherweight
- Jahi Tucker vs. TBA, 6 rounds, welterweight
- Omar Rosario vs. TBA, 6 rounds, junior welterweight
- Kasir Goldston vs. TBA, 6 rounds, junior welterweight
- Bruce Carrington vs. TBA, 4 rounds, featherweight