WBO Light Heavyweight Champion Joe Smith Jr. and his alternate opponent Steve Jeffrard appeared Friday in their main fight Saturday night on ESPN at Turning Stone Resort & Casino in Vergona, New York.
(Image credit: Mickey Williams (top ranking via Getty Images)
- Joe Smith Jr – 174.25 lbs
- Steve Jeffrard – 173.5 lbs
The card will be shown live on ESPN & ESPN Deportes and simulcast on ESPN+ at 10:00 PM EST / 7:00 PM PT.
Smith Jr. was due to defend against former world title contender Callum Johnson, but pulled out of the fight a week ago due to illness with the coronavirus.
32-year-old Joe Smith Jr. (27-3, 21 KOs) needs to beat substitute Jeffrard (18-2, 12 KOs) to move on to bigger and better things against the prospect of a unified bout against IBF/WBC light heavyweight champion Artur Petribev .
There is also an outside chance that Canelo will choose Alvarez Smith Jr. This would be a dream come true for Smith, as he would earn big money fighting superstar Canelo (57-1-2, 39 KOs).
This week Canelo will decide who his next opponent will be on May 7. If it was Joe Smith, this would be a great fight for Long Island, New York.
“Joe Smith Jr. vs. Steve Jeffrard, what do you expect from a Long Island footballer against an unknown last-minute substitute?” Max Kellerman said on Max in Boxing.
“Well, first of all for Joe Smith Jr., the mindset you have to have is that he’s earned everything he’s got so far,” said ESPN’s Tim Bradley.
“That world championships, he should go into the ring and tell this guy, ‘You’re a last minute substitute, and I’ll treat you as a last minute substitute. I’m the big dog, I’m the world champion, and I’m going to fire you. I will take you out.
“Geffrard, I understand he has some amateur lineage. I understand he’s a last minute substitute. It’s a long shot for him to win the fight.”
“I think he has some hitting power, and he has a similar style with Joe Smith Jr where he likes to sit up front, cover up, and he likes to hit sometimes,” Bradley said.
The lack of names on his professional resume for nine years makes it hard to believe that Jeffrey has a shot at this fight. Also, Geffrard has not been ranked in the top 15 by any of the four sanctioning bodies, that’s for sure.
Not rating Jeffrard meant he didn’t meet the proper opposition, and wasn’t busy enough. For a nine-year professional who only has 18 fights on his resume, this is a sign of problems.
“But you have to understand that this guy [Geffrard] Bradley said. “He’s not ready for twelve rounds. Joe Smith needs to go in there with that mentality and take it out clearly and simply,” Bradley said.
Jeffrard’s lack of strength would make it difficult, if not impossible, to win this fight because the only way he could achieve victory was by boxing and moving for 12 rounds.
If Jeffrard tries to beat Smith with compound punches, he’ll put himself in danger of getting caught in one of his big shots.
“I expect an exciting fight as long as it lasts,” Bradley said in Joe Smith Jr.’s match against Steve Jeffrard on ESPN Saturday night. “I don’t think this fight goes too far. I think both guys have punching power and punching hard enough to hurt each other.
“I have to credit Joe Smith Jr. for being the second toughest punch in this division so far, right behind Peterbiff,” Bradley said.
“I hear you, Tim, and you know why? Because the ears send the message to the brain just like the eyes,” Kellerman said.