What’s Next Up For WBO World Light Heavyweight Champion Joe Smith Jr?
3KingsBoxing previously reported that Top Rank had some big plans in store for WBO World light heavyweight champion Joe Smith Jr (27-3, 21 KOs). It looks like the ball is now starting to roll. According to ESPN, the hard-punching 31-year-old from Long Island, New York is finalizing a two-fight deal. First, a title defense against WBO light heavyweight mandatory challenger Umar Salamov (26-1 19 KOs). Next would be a fight against former three-time world middleweight champion Daniel Jacobs (37-3, 30 KOs).
The bout against Salamov would take place this Fall at the Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York City. If the defending champ wins against Salamov, a fight against Jacobs will occur in early 2022.
Smith won the vacant WBO 175 pound strap with a majority decision win over Maxim Vlasov in April of 2021. It was a thrilling contest, leading candidate for the 2021 Fight of The Year.
Salamov is a 27-year-old from Grozny, Russia who now resides in Las Vegas. He may be the mandatory challenger, but his resume is nondescript. In truth, there are not many recognizable names on his record. Of his twenty seven pro bouts, all but one have been in either his native country of Russia or Ukraine.
Daniel Jacobs is the high profile name of this deal. His close defeats to former unified world middleweight champions Gennady Golovkin and Canelo Alvarez are still fresh on the minds of many boxing fans. He has since moved up to 168 pounds. However, the 34-year-old from Brooklyn, New York, has not shown the same form at super middleweight as did at 160.
If Jacobs were to fight Smith Jr, that would require yet another move up in weight. If everything comes off successfully, the fans are the big winner. A potential Smith Jr-Jacobs fight would be an intriguing contest. Stay tuned to 3KingsBoxing for further details.
By: Michael Wilson Jr.