By: Hans Themistode
All of the long hours and hard work that Joe Smith Jr. put in is all seemingly for nothing. At least for now.
The light heavyweight contender was just recently informed that his upcoming showdown against Maxim Vlasov for the vacant WBO title will no longer take place this weekend as Vlasov has tested positive for COVID-19.
To the surprise of no one, Vlasov was gutted by the news.
“I am devastated with the postponement of my world title fight against Joe Smith Jr,” said Vlasov. “I have been following strict protocols, I have done regular testing with negative results, and I have no symptoms. I am well prepared and had an excellent training camp. I look forward to the rescheduling of the fight and the opportunity to display my world-class skills.”
For Smith Jr., the road to becoming a world champion appeared to be lining up perfectly for him. With back to back wins against Jesse Hart and former titlist Eleider Alvarez, Smith Jr. stomped his way to his second world title attempt. The Long Island native’s first shot originally came roughly one and a half years ago against Dmitry Bivol.
Breaking down their showdown is a simplistic one as Smith Jr. was dominated round after round. Still, even with the lopsided loss, promoter Bob Arum was confident that Smith Jr. would blast out Vlasov which would ultimately set up a three belt unification matchup with unified champion Artur Beterbiev.
Those plans obviously, will now have to wait.
Even without the main attraction, the show must go on. Stepping into the spotlight on the night will be former IBF lightweight titlist Richard Commey. For the former belt holder, it’ll be his first ring action since a second round knockout loss at the hands of Teofimo Lopez in December of 2019.