Geffrard Gets the Shot of a Lifetime Against WBO Light Heavyweight Champ Joe Smith Jr
3KingsBoxing reported that on January 6, Callum Johson had to withdraw from a scheduled January 15 bout with WBO light heavyweight champion Joe Smith Jr (27-3, 21 KOs) after testing positive for COVID-19. After a mad scramble to find a replacement opponent, Top Rank promotions announced that Smith will now face Steve Geffrard (18-2, 12 KOs). The contest takes place at Turning Stone Resort Casino in Miami, Florida, live on ESPN. Top Rank CEO Bob Arum made the following statement about this match on social media.
RATING THE NEW CHALLENGER
While Arum claims Geffrard is “credible”, some will view that opinion with a hard side-eye. At first glance, the 31-year-old is unranked by any of the four major sanctioning bodies, and his list of opponents is underwhelming. However, the challenger boasts good amateur background. In 2010, he was named USA Boxing Male Athlete of the Year after winning the Heavyweight Golden Gloves and National Championships.
This reporter was able to see him on video. An observation of him in action discloses a fighter of some solid skills and is fundamentally sound. He knows how to handle himself in the ring. But, he’s making a significant leap in competition.
There may be moments of adjustment for the defending champ. Geffrard is more of a boxer, with arguably a better jab than his previously scheduled opponent, Johnson. Also, Geffrard has adequate hand speed and throws his punches short and with precision. The Miami, Florida-based fighter was in preparation for a fight on January 8. But, with the opportunity to fight for a world title, he jumped at the opportunity.
In boxing, you have to prepare mentally and physically for the expected and the unexpected. Smith is a seasoned pro at this point, so his job is to stay on task. He has aspirations of engaging in a unification match at some point this year with either unified WBC/IBF champ Artur Beterbiev or a rematch with WBA ‘super’ world 175 pound champ Dmitry Bivol. So, he cannot afford to overlook Geffrard in any way possible.
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By: Michael Wilson Jr.