TOMORROW at 7:30 p.m. ET / 4:30 p.m. PT live on ESPN+ – from the MGM Grand Conference Center – Grand Ballroom (Las Vegas)
(ESPN+ 7:30 p.m. ET / 4:30 p.m. PT)
• Eleider Alvarez 174.6 lbs vs. Joe Smith Jr. 174.9 lbs
(WBO Light Heavyweight Title Eliminator — 12 Rounds)
• Rob Brant 161.1 lbs vs. Vitaliy Kopylenko 159.5 lbs
(Middleweight — 10 Rounds)
• Julian Rodriguez 141.5 lbs vs. Anthony Laureano 145.9 lbs
(Junior Welterweight — 10 Rounds)
• Clay Collard 159.8 lbs vs. Maurice Williams 158.2 lbs
(Middleweight — 8 Rounds)
• Duke Ragan 125.5 lbs vs. Luis Alvarado 126.8 lbs
(Featherweight — 4 Rounds)
• Robert Rodriguez 119.7 lbs vs. Abel Soriano 119.8 lbs
(Bantamweight — 6 Rounds)
• Adrian Valdovinos 137.2 lbs vs. Israel Mercado 136.6 lbs
(Junior Welterweight — 6 Rounds)
• Wendy Toussaint 154.4 lbs vs. Isiah Jones 157.2 lbs
(Middleweight — 8 Rounds)
Leave the judges at home because Eleider “Storm” Alvarez and Joe “The Beast” Smith Jr. are coming for the knockout.
Alvarez and Smith will face off in a WBO light heavyweight world title eliminator in Top Rank’s return to the MGM Grand Conference Center Saturday, Aug. 22. Promoted by Top Rank, in association with Joe DeGuardia’s Star Boxing and Groupe Yvon Michel (GYM), Alvarez vs. Smith and a co-feature will stream live on ESPN+ starting at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT.
“I can’t wait to sit back and watch this fight, which features two of the light heavyweight division’s biggest punchers,” said Top Rank chairman Bob Arum. “It’s a 50-50 fight and a great way to kick off our return to MGM Grand.”
Said Alvarez, “This fight is critical for both of our careers. I respect Joe Smith, who has proven to be an elite fighter. However, I have all the tools to beat him, and that’s what I intend to do. My goal is to become a two-time light heavyweight world champion.”
Said Smith, “This fight means everything to me. It’s my path to a world title fight, and I know this is my second chance to turn my dream into reality. Alvarez is a former world champion, and in my mind, I am treating this as a world title fight. To get there, I have to, and will, win this fight.”
Alvarez (25-1, 13 KOs) is a former Colombian Olympian who has made Montreal his home since turning pro in 2009. He gained widespread recognition following victories over Lucian Bute and Jean Pascal, but his August 2018 knockout win over longtime champion Sergey Kovalev earned him the WBO light heavyweight world title and recognition as one of the world’s top fighters.
Alvarez lost a decision to Kovalev in a rematch the following February, but after recovering from a foot injury, he returned stronger than ever.
He headlined a Top Rank on ESPN main event January 18 and knocked out Michael Seals with a single right hand. The knockout, an instant viral video sensation, became an early frontrunner for Knockout of the Year.
Smith (25-3, 20 KOs), from Long Island, rose to prominence in 2016 as the construction worker member of the Laborers Local 66 union who knocked out top contender Andrzej Fonfara and living legend Bernard Hopkins in back-to-back fights.
He fell short in his only world title shot, a March 2019 decision defeat to WBA champion Dmitry Bivol. The Bivol fight was a minor hiccup, as he returned in January and neutralized Jesse Hart over 10 one-sided rounds in a Top Rank on ESPN main event in Atlantic City.
Smith, who now owns and operates a residential tree service company on Long Island, hopes to punch his ticket to another title shot. A win over Alvarez will assure him of that opportunity.
Joe DeGuardia, Smith’s promoter, said, “I just love watching Joe Smith Jr. fight. He is a true throwback, a fan-favorite with tremendous punching power. It will be thrilling to see him against Alvarez, who is one of the top fighters in the game.
Not only will boxing fans see two of the toughest light heavyweights battle it out in a fight that will ultimately determine the WBO world champion, but this has all the makings of the Fight of the Year.”
JOE “THE BEAST” SMITH JR. IS READY FOR VEGAS AS CAMP CLOSES
As JOE SMITH JR.’s (Long Island, NY 25-3 20KO’s) WBO Light Heavyweight World Championship Title Eliminator against ELEIDER “STORM” ALVAREZ (25-1 13KO’s) comes roaring around the corner on August 22, a unique fight camp comes to a close. Gyms that were once filled with echoing punches on the heavy bag, the clicking of a jump ropes on the floor and the conversation of stories from boxing past, now remain in a deafening silence.
Regardless of the current COVID world, when the phone rings, Long Island’s Common Man, Joe Smith Jr., answers. Come fight night the goal remains the same for Joe Smith Jr., “I just want to keep it going,” he said, ” I got to put on a great show every time I’m in there, so I can have more and more people recognize me.”
Fighters, who are often characterized as creatures of habit, have dealt with this “new normal” in different ways. For Smith Jr., it was a change he recognized, but something he knew he must embrace and make ‘common’, “It was different but as far as training goes, when your training you’re not really around people going out and doing things, so the last two months haven’t made a big difference because I would separate myself from everyone normally.”
Smith Jr. will be returning for his second consecutive bout on ESPN (this time on ESPN+), where he was last in action this past January, defeating then #3 world rated light heavyweight JESSE HART (then 26-2 21KO’s) in classic upset fashion. Smith believes it’s his duty as a fighter to to bring live sporting entertainment into the homes of millions who have otherwise been in a sport drought, “Boxing has been carrying the sports world. We have to make sure if we have a fight coming up that we stay in quarantine to not mess anything up and be able to get in there to put on a show for the fans.”
After tuning in to the ESPN boxing summer series, Smith Jr. says the circumstances will not faze him come fight night, “I have watched a few fights on ESPN. It’s definitely different, but boxing is a lonely sport, when you’re training it’s only you and your trainer, that’s it.”
WENDY “HAITIAN FIRE” TOUSSAINT TO FIGHT ON UNDERCARD OF JOE SMITH JR.’S WBO TITLE ELIMINATOR VS ELEIDER ALVAREZ ON AUGUST 22
Undefeated, Haitian born, Long Island super welterweight WENDY “HAITIAN FIRE” TOUSSAINT (11-0 5KO’s) has been making a name for himself in the tri-state area since his pro-debut at Star Boxing’s “Rockin’ Fights” series.
Now, the 28-year old Toussaint will lace them up in Las Vegas for the first time in his toughest test to date, against Detroit’s ISIAH JONES (9-2 3KO’s). The bout will take place on the undercard of Toussaint’s fellow Long Island sparring partner and Star Boxing stablemate, #4 world rated (WBO) light heavyweight, JOE “THE BEAST” SMITH JR.’s (25-3 2KO’s) WBO World Title Eliminator against #3 world rated (WBO) light heavyweight, ELEIDER “STORM” ALVAREZ (25-1).
Toussaint has found dynamite in his hands as of late, winning five of his last six bouts by knockout. This past February, Toussaint took on the always tough Jermaine Corley at The Paramount. With his full arsenal on display, Toussaint disposed Corley via second round TKO after a vicious uppercut, followed by a right hand.
Toussaint had this to say about the opportunity, “I am ready to fight. I am always ready to fight. Nothing changes for me. The Haitian Fire is ready, anytime, anywhere.”
Jones will be making his third straight appearance at The Bubble, against his fourth consecutive undefeated opponent. In his most recent bout, Jones earned a tough fought majority decision over previously unbeaten Donte Stubbs. The 26-year-old Detroit native will look to keep the momentum on August 22.
“Wendy is a talented boxer,” said Star Boxing CEO JOE DEGUARDIA, “he has a very high ring IQ and power in both hands. He has tremendous potential. Jones will be a great test for Wendy.”