The Turning Stone Resort & On line casino in Verona hosts world championship boxing this Saturday night time, but it surely gained’t be the principle occasion that many hoped for, as Joe Smith Jr defends his WBO mild heavyweight title for the primary time, in opposition to the unknown Floridian, Steve Geffrard, dwell on ESPN within the USA and on Sky Sports activities within the UK.
Geffrard steps in at late discover for Britain’s Callum Johnson, who was dominated out simply a few weeks from his scheduled battle with Smith with COVID-19.
Smith Jr (27-3, 21 KOs) is a good operator, and he first got here to wider prominence in 2016, wiping out the damaging Andrzej Fonfara in a spherical.
That earned the New Yorker a golden ticket in opposition to the legendary Bernard Hopkins, and Smith Jr lastly ended the lengthy profession of ‘The Executioner’, knocking the Philadelphian out of the ring and out of the competition in eight rounds.
The success was short-lived although, as he was out hustled by Sullivan Barrera in his very subsequent battle, falling quick on a ten spherical determination.
Since dropping a 2019 WBA title shot to Dmitry Bivol on the playing cards, Smith Jr is on a run of three straight wins, together with a ninth spherical stoppage of former world champion, Eleider Alvarez, and that win gave him a shot on the vacant WBO belt final outing.
That was in April final yr, and the 32-year-old took a majority verdict against Maxim Vlasov to change into world champion. He now faces an underwhelming opponent in Geffrard (18-2, 12 KOs), a person nominated to battle for the belt because the fifteenth ranked contender with the organisation.
The 31-year-old misplaced his first two bouts as knowledgeable, and has solely fought as soon as since March 2018.
Geffrand entered the WBO rankings by means of profitable the vacant Asia Pacific title in 2016. His final outing was in March final yr, outscoring Denis Grachev over eight rounds.
Prediction: Smith Jr shouldn’t have any bother in coping with Geffrard, and I favour him to do it within the first half of the competition. The champion hits laborious, and will rating a knockdown early on the best way to a dominant victory.
Two ten rounders help the principle occasion. At featherweight, the unbeaten Abraham Nova faces William Encarnacion (19-1, 15 KOs), who fights exterior his native Dominican Republic for the primary time and replaces Jose Enrique Vivas, who withdrew via damage.
Nova (20-0, 14 KOs), who has excessive rankings at tremendous featherweight, has been steadily stepping up in school, and Encarnacion was knocked out simply two fights in the past.
Prediction: Nova can win inside schedule.
The opposite ten spherical attraction comes at heavyweight, the place Lyubomyr Pinchuk (13-2-1, 8 KOs) ought to be capable of take an early win in opposition to Jose Mario Flores (8-2-2, 4 KOs).
In six spherical motion, Omar Rosario (5-0, 2 KOs) can financial institution a factors win in opposition to Raekwon Butler (4-1, 2 KOs) at tremendous light-weight, and at middleweight, Troy Isley (3-0, 2 KOs) can see off Harry Keenan Cruz Cabano (6-2, 2 KOs) inside the gap.
The ultimate six rounder is at welterweight, and Jahi Tucker (5-0, 3 KOs) can take an early win in opposition to Akeem Black (6-4, 2 KOs).