Joe Smith Jr (26-3, 21 KOs) and Maxim Vlasov (45-3, 26 KOs) will be fighting in the rescheduled date of April 10th for the vacant WBO light heavyweight title in a Top Rank card in Tula, Oklahoma.
Michael Woods broke the news on the new date for the Smith vs. Vlasov fight.
The two were previously scheduled to battle for the vacant WBO 175-lb belt on February 13th in the main event on ESPN, but the #2 WBO Vlasov came down with COVID 19 and had to pull out of the fight.
Now with the 34-year-old Vlasov having recovered from his illness, the fight with Smith Jr is back on, and they’ll be fighting next month on ESPN.
The younger, stronger fighter Smith, 31, has to be seen as the favorite in this fight due to his youth and punching power. However, the Russian Vlasov is a formidable opponent with respectable punching power and tons of experience against well-known pposition during his 16-year professional career.
Some of Vlasov’s past opponents:
- Isaac Chilemba
- Gilberto ‘Zurdo’ Ramirez
- Ismayl Sillah
- Rakhim Chakhkiev
- Olanrewaju Durodola
- Krzysztof Glowacki
- Vikapita Meroro
- Khoren Gevor
What’s impressive about Vlasov is a good portion of his career has been fought at cruiserweight against bigger and stronger fighters, and yet he’s done remarkably well.
Since moving down in weight to light heavyweight in 2019, Vlasov has won his last three fights with ease beating these fighters:
- Emmanuel Martey
- Isaac Chilemba
- Omar Garcia
Other than his fight against the shopworn Chilemba, Vlasov hasn’t been tested since moving down to 175. We’ll see how well Vlasov looks against Smith Jr on April 10th.
Top Rank promoter Bob Arum wants to match Joe Smith Jr against IBF/WBC champion Artur Beterbiev in 2021. It would be a shocker if Vlasov beats Smith, but you can’t rule that out.
We’ve seen Smith lose in the past to Sullivan Barrera, Eddie Caminero, and Dimitry Bivol. Vlasov would likely beat Barrera and Caminero (7-9) without any problems.
Recently, Smith Jr has shown improvement in his game, beating Jesse Hart and Eleider Alvarez in his last two fights. The last time Smith was beaten was in 2019 in losing to Dimitry Bivol by a 12 round decision.
This is the same WBO strap that superstar Canelo Alvarez captured from Sergey Kovalev in 2019.
Although Canelo won the fight by an 11th round knockout, he likely recognized that things would be much harder if he chose to keep it and face Joe Smith Jr, Artur Beterbiev, and Dimitry Bivol.
Those are the guys that Canelo would have been expected to face if he hadn’t bailed out and given up the WBO strap.