Sunday, January 16, 2022

Boxing tonight: Smith’s title defense was in jeopardy before Geffrard emerged

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Smith will defend the WBO light heavyweight title before looking for Beterbiev or Bivol. Plus: we take a look at the latest matches between Eubank Jr. vs. Williams and Fury vs. Whyte

Arenas across the UK will remain silent while British boxing is on hiatus, but there is a title at stake in New York this weekend. Joe Smith Jr will defend his WBO light heavyweight belt – but his rivals haven’t exactly lined up to face him.

“Boxing tonight” is I‘s weekly look at Saturday night action in the UK and beyond, with the details of how to watch and what to watch out for

After his opponent Callum Johnson was ruled out after testing positive for Covid, promoter Joe DeGuardia was given the unenviable task of finding a last-minute replacement.

“We literally went through over a dozen fighters, and the guys spun it left and right,” DeGuardia said. “Finally after about the eighth guy, [Smith] Said listen Joe I don’t care who you put in this I fight just make a deal

It is no exaggeration to say that Steven Geffrard could not have imagined such an opportunity with only eight days’ notice. The call came as a shock, but he promises to be “equal to the occasion.”

“I keep telling myself that,” he adds. “I will show the world what makes Steve Geffrard.”

Bookmakers are not so sure. The odds are against him and it’s no surprise considering Smith (27-3-0) is steadily gaining ground in the division.

His star has continued to rise, his career once synonymous with a somewhat absurd victory over a 51-year-old Bernard Hopkins, who toppled the boxing legend through the ropes in the eighth round.

Taking on Artur Beterbiev is the ultimate goal of the ultimate light heavyweight showdown. Pick any division out of the hat and you’ll find people in boxing willing to tell you Canelo should fight in it. In the real world, however, Smith is trying to assert himself as king at 175 pounds.

Amid the continued uncertainty following the announcement by the British Boxing Board of Control (BBBofC) that all January fights would be postponed, Chris Eubank Jr was the victim again.

His grudge match against Liam Williams was pushed back to the end of the month but then had to be moved back to February 5th.

Even that was up in the air as it took place in Cardiff, but the Welsh Government has now eased restrictions which had temporarily suspended indoor sporting events.

One fight that seems unlikely at the moment, however, is Dillian Whyte’s WBC title challenge against Tyson Fury. The deadline for the first settlement between the pair’s camps is January 18, before purse bids are ordered.

Whyte’s team are concerned about the proposed purse split, with Fury set to take home the lion’s share – to say the least. Meanwhile, Fury seems to be hesitantly turning to other opponents.

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