by Max Schramm: Joe Smith Jr. weighed in at 174.25 pounds Friday at heavyweight to defend his WBO Light Heavyweight title against late substitute Stephen Jeffrard Saturday night at Turning Stone Resort Casino in Verona, New York. Geffrard (18-2, 12 KOs) weighed 173.5 pounds and looks good.
(Image credit: Mickey Williams (top ranking via Getty Images)
Smith Jr. will be shown. vs. Geffrard live on ESPN and ESPN Deports starting at 10:00 PM ET / 7:00 PM PT. It would be Smith’s first defense of his 175-pound WBO title that he won in his last fight against Maxim Vlasov last April.
The 32-year-old Smith Jr. (27-3, 21 KOs) was initially scheduled to defend against #11 WBO Callum Johnson, but was forced to pull out of the card after testing positive for COVID 19.
Fortunately for Smith, his Top Rank promoters quickly found Jeffrard an alternate opponent. Not much is known about Geffrard, as his battles often went unnoticed.
Jeffrard beat Denis Grachev and Dmitriy Sokhotsky, so he has some ability.
Joe Smith Jr has had a tough road
To get to where Smith Jr. is today as the 175-pound WBO Champion, he defeated some excellent fighters and showed he can recover after suffering losses.
Smith’s losses came against Dimitri Bevol, Sullivan Barrera and Eddie Caminero. But Smith Jr. defeated these excellent fighters:
- Bernard Hopkins
- Maxim Vlasov
- Elizabeth Alvarez
- Jesse Hart
- Andre Fonvara
“It was a bumpy road with a lot of obstacles, but I feel 100% confident and ready to go,” Joe Smith Jr. told ESPN’s Max on Boxing.
“I came out with a majority decision win over Maxim Vlasov. I won a vacant world title belt,” Kellerman told Smith Jr. of his recent victory. “It was a tough, tough close fight. what did you learn?”
Smith Jr. said: “I’ve had some tough fights to get to this title, I’ve faced many guys who were top competitors, and I got a lot of experience going this way to get that belt.
In that battle [with Maxim Vlasov]I was there with one of the best players in the world. “He has an amazing record with a lot of experience, and I’m getting better and better with every fight I have because I’m fighting the best,” said Joe Smith.
It will be interesting to see the current release of Smith Jr. He tackles the three fighters who defeated him in the past. If at all possible, Smith would likely avenge his three defeats and look good at doing so.
Smith wants to show his improvements
“You’re experienced. It’s been a long road for you,” Kellerman told Smith Jr.
“The career of Bernard Hopkins is finished By striking it, put the ring clean. Then you lose your next battle [to Sullivan Barrera], and the final title shot between stringing some good wins together and one that culminates on Vlasov.
“You mentioned that it gives you experience, but what was that journey like?”
“It was ups and downs, but it all happened for a reason, and I feel like it all made me a better fighter today,” said Joe Smith.
“I’m excited and looking forward to getting in the ring To show everyone the improvements you’ve made. “I think you’re going to see a faster, sharper all-around fighter when I’m there on Saturday,” Smith said.
“Looking at how you can hit, isn’t it about preparing the shot, or figuring out how to get that shot at home because your hit hurts you?” Kellerman said.
Smith Jr. will need to launch an attack on Jeffrard because he will try to outpace him for the entire fight. If Smith starts slowly, he could find himself poorly behind in the second half of the competition.
A Possible Peterbiffe Battle for Smith Jr
“The two biggest 175lbs in the world are the belt holders, Artur Petterbiev and Dmitriy Bevol. Both are undefeated. You’ve faced Bivol, I hinted at it, but now your name has been tied to Beterbiev, and that would be bombs far away. Your thoughts?” Kellerman said of Smith’s next possible fight.
“Yes, I think this puts on a big thrilling fight that fans love to see,” Smith Jr. said in a 175th unification match between him and WBC/WBC champion Peterbief.
“This is one of the biggest fights in boxing that takes place because two massive punches work in it, and that’s what people love to see. They love to see people punching so hard and knocking someone out,” Smith Jr. said.
We’ll see if Top Rank wants to put Beterbeiv and Smith Jr. With each other after this fight. However, it doesn’t make sense for them to agree to a fight now because there is a chance Canelo Alvarez will rise to 175 to challenge for titles.
Smith does not look at Jeffrard
“Joe, you should know better than most people. Boxing history is full of men who have finally reached the top, and can let their guard down a bit like a trap fight against a late submarine,” said Kellerman.
“You’re in this position. As much as I’ve struggled to get to where you are, is there a danger here that this is a trap fight?” Kellerman said in a fight between Stephen Jeffrard and Smith Jr., “How do you warn about that?”
It’s imperative that Jo Smith Jr. not overlook 31-year-old Giffard as he has an extensive amateur career. He’s been a professional for nearly ten years, and he’s competing with the best.
“Yeah, there’s definitely danger with this guy. I don’t know much about him. He came at the last minute,” Smith Jr. said of his alternate opponent Jeffrard.
“I know he was a very experienced fighter, and he was a great amateur,” Smith said. “Compete with Petribev and Elder AlvarezAnd many of the best contenders.
“So, I know this guy has a lot of experience in other respects, so I expect a strong opponent ahead of me,” Smith said in his fight with Jeffrard Saturday night.
It’s possible that Jeffrard’s past sparring with heavyweight Peterbiffe prepares him for what’s in store for him on Saturday night against Smith Jr.
The power between Beterbiev and Smith is similar, and if Geffrard learns from the Russian fighter, he can use that to try to win.