Joe Smith Jr makes the first defense of his WBO light heavyweight title against Steve Geffrard at Turning Stone Resort Casino in Verona, New York on Saturday, January 15. The date when the fight airs live in the UK and Australia is Sunday, January 16.
Geffrard wasn’t supposed to be here. Last Friday, he was preparing to weigh-in for a fight in Delray Beach, Florida, when he received a call. WBO light heavyweight champion Joe Smith Jr needed an opponent after British puncher Callum Johnson contracted COVID-19. Geffrard answered the call and is now challenging Smith for the world title.
Smith Jr vs Geffrard tickets
Smith (27-3, 21 KOs) defeated Maxim Vlasov last April and will finally defend his title after a COVID-19 diagnosis delayed his return. Geffrard (18-2, 12 KOs), a South Florida native and former U.S. amateur standout, was 0-2 before rattling off 18 consecutive victories. The pair squares off in the scheduled for twelve rounds world championship bout.
In the co-feature Abraham Nova (20-0, 14 KOs) is looking to extend his unbeaten record as he faces 2012 Dominican Olympian William Encarnacion (19-1, 15 KOs). The bout is scheduled for ten rounds at featherweight.
Check out below what the fighters had to say at the pre-fight press conference held earlier today.
Joe Smith Jr: He will try to take full advantage of this once in a lifetime opportunity
“I can’t wait to be on ESPN this Saturday defending my world title in front of the whole world. I’m extremely happy to be here. There were a couple of moments where I thought I wasn’t going to be here. I can’t wait! Thanks to everyone that made this happen.”
“Since I became a world champion, the only thing that has really changed for me is that I’m holding this title, and I want to keep it that way.”
“Geffrard has been inside the ring training with the best. I’m sure he is going to give it his all and will try to take full advantage of this once in a lifetime opportunity.”
Steve Geffrard: I was looking forward to Smith vs. Johnson, but now I’m the one fighting for the title
“When those belts are on the line, that mental switch turns on. I know that mentally and skill-wise I can battle with the best. I have sparred with, and handled myself very well, against the best of the division.”
“I’m a fighter, especially with an opportunity like this. I’m going to rise to the occasion. I’ll show the world who Steve Geffrard is.”
“I was in the sauna when I got the call for this fight. I was looking forward to Smith vs. Johnson, but now I’m the one fighting for the title. It’s surreal.”
Abraham Nova: We have one goal, and that is to win by all means necessary
“I’m excited because I’ll be fighting very close to my hometown (Albany). You guys are going to see an action-packed fighter. I’m ready to put on a great performance. I’m looking for a big win on Saturday night.”
“I want to shine and make a statement this Saturday. I want to send a message to the featherweight division. By the end of this year, I want to be fighting for a world title. I would love to challenge Emanuel ‘Vaquero’ Navarrete for his title.”
“For two months straight, we had a game plan for an opponent, and at the last minute, we had a change of opponent. What I have seen from my new opponent is that he is a very good fighter. He has the skills and a high ring IQ. He is an Olympian. It doesn’t matter. We have one goal, and that is to win by all means necessary.”
William Encarnacion: I’m ready to go
“I’ve been waiting for this moment for a long time. I am thrilled about this opportunity.”
“It has been a good preparation. I didn’t even have a fight date when they called me for this opportunity, but I always keep training in the gym. I’m ready to go this Saturday.”
Smith Jr vs Geffrard undercard will stream live stream on ESPN+. The lineup features rising Puerto Rican star Omar Rosario (5-0, 2 KOs), 18-year-old welterweight Jahi Tucker (5-0, 3 KOs), and recent U.S. Olympian Troy Isley (3-0, 2 KOs) in separate bouts.
Get Smith Jr vs Geffrard full fight card and broadcast information.