Joe Smith Jr. performs his first WBO light heavyweight title defense against Steve Jeffrard at Turning Stone Resort Casino in Verona, New York on Saturday, Jan. 15.
Geffrard wasn’t supposed to be here. Last Friday, he was preparing for a fight in Delray Beach, Florida, when he got a call. WBO Light Heavyweight Champion Joe Smith Jr. needed an opponent after Britain’s Callum Johnson contracted COVID-19. Jeffrard answered the call and is now challenging Smith for the world title.
Smith Jr. – Jeffrard Tickets
Smith Jr and Geffrard tickets to see all the action at Turning Stone Resort Casino on Saturday, January 15th are on sale. Tickets can be purchased via Vivid Seats and TicketNetwork.
Smith (27-3, 21 KOs) defeated Maxim Vlasov last April and will finally defend his title after a COVID-19 diagnosis delayed his comeback. Jeffrard (18-2, 12 KOs), a South Florida native and former American amateur, was 0-2 before scoring 18 straight wins. The pair win the match scheduled for the 12-round world championship.
In the syndicated film, Abraham Nova (20-0, 14 KOs) looks to expand his unbeaten record as he faces Dominican Olympian William Encarnacion of 2012 (19-1, 15 KOs). The match was scheduled for ten featherweight rounds.
Check below what the fighters had to say at the pre-fight press conference held earlier today.
Boxing fans can watch Joe Smith Jr vs Steve Geffrard live on ESPN+ in the US, Sky Sports in the UK, FITE TV in Australia and other countries.
Joe Smith Jr.: He’ll try to make full use of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity
“I can’t wait to be on ESPN this Saturday to defend my world title in front of the whole world. I’m so happy to be here. There were a few moments where I thought I wouldn’t be here. I can’t wait! Thanks to everyone who made this happen.”
“Since becoming a world champion, the only thing that has really changed for me is that I hold that title, and I want to keep it that way.”
“Geffrard has been in the ring training with the best. I am sure he will do his best and try to take full advantage of this once in a lifetime opportunity.”
Steve Jeffrard: 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 comes into play. I know I can fight against the best mentally and skillfully. I’ve squabbled with the best team in the division and have handled myself very well.”
“I am a fighter, especially with an opportunity like this. I will rise to the occasion. I will show the world who Steve Jeffrard is.”
“I was in the sauna when I got the call for this fight. I was looking forward to the Smith vs. Johnson match, 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 necessary means
“I am excited because I will be fighting near my hometown (Albany). You guys are going to see a fighter full of action. I am ready to put in a great performance. I am looking for a big win on Saturday night.”
“I want to shine and make a statement on Saturday. I want to send a message to the featherweight division. By the end of this year, I want to fight for a world title. I would like to challenge Emmanuel ‘Vaquero’ Navarrete for his title.”
“For two consecutive months, we had a plan for a match for one of the competitors, and at the last moment, we had a change of opponent. What I saw from my new opponent is that he is a very good fighter. He has the skills and a high IQ ring. He is an Olympian. It does not matter. We have one goal, which is Win by all necessary means.”
William Encarnacion: I’m ready to go
“I have been waiting for this moment for a long time. I am happy for this opportunity.”
“It was a good preparation. I didn’t have a fight date when they called me for this opportunity, but I always keep training in the gym. I am ready to go on Saturday.”
Smith Jr. vs. Jeffrard Undercard will be broadcast live on ESPN+. The squad includes rising Puerto Rican superstar Omar Rosario (5-0, 2 KOs), 18-year-old welterweight Jahi Tucker (5-0, 3 KOs), and recent US Olympian Troy Easley (3-0, 2 KOs) in separate bouts. .
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