WBO light heavyweight champion Joe Smith Jr. and his replacement opponent Steve Geffrard made weight on Friday afternoon for their main event fight this Saturday night on ESPN at the Turning Stone Resort & Casino in Vergona, New York.
(Photo credit: Mikey Williams (Top Rank via Getty Images)
- Joe Smith Jr. – 174.25 lbs
- Steve Geffrard – 173.5 lbs
The card will be shown LIVE on ESPN & ESPN Deportes and simulcast on ESPN+ at 10:00 p.m. ET/7:00 p.m. PT.
Smith Jr. had been scheduled to defend against former world title challenger Callum Johnson, but he pulled out of the fight a week ago due to him becoming ill with COVID.
The 32-year-old Joe Smith Jr. (27-3, 21 KOs) needs a win over substitute Geffrard (18-2, 12 KOs) to move on to bigger and better things against possibly a unification match against IBF/WBC light heavyweight champion Artur Beterbiev.
There’s also an outside chance that Canelo Alvarez could pick Smith Jr. That would be a dream come true for Smith, as he would make massive money fighting the superstar Canelo (57-1-2, 39 KOs).
Canelo will be deciding this week who his next opponent will be for May 7th. If it’s Joe Smith, that would be a great fight for the Long Island, New York native.
“Joe Smith Jr. vs. Steve Geffrard, what do you expect from the Long Island slugger against an unknown last-minute replacement?” said Max Kellerman on Max on Boxing.
“Well, first of all for Joe Smith Jr, the mentality that you’ve got to have is that he’s earned everything that he’s gotten so far,” said Tim Bradley of ESPN.
“That world championship, he’s got to go in the ring and let this guy know, ‘You’re a last-minute replacement, and I’m going to treat you like a last-minute replacement. I’m the big dog, I’m the world champion, and I’m going to knock you out. I’m going to take you out.’
“Geffrard, I do understand that he has some amateur pedigree. I understand that he’s a last-minute replacement. It’s a long shot for him to win the fight.
“I believe he does have some punching power, and he does have a similar style with Joe Smith Jr. to where he likes to sit in front, cover-up, and he likes to bang at times,” said Bradley.
The lack of names on his nine-year professional resume makes it difficult to believe that Geffrard has a chance in this fight. Also, Geffrard isn’t ranked in the top 15 by any of the four sanctioning bodies, and that’s telling.
For Geffrard not to be ranked means he’s not faced the right opposition, and he’s not been busy enough. For a nine-year pro to have only 18 fights on his resume, that’s a sign of problems.
“But you’ve got to understand that this guy [Geffrard] was getting ready for an eight round fight,” said Bradley. “He’s not ready for twelve rounds. Joe Smith needs to go in there with that mindset and take him out plain and simple,” said Bradley.
Geffrard’s lack of power will make it difficult, if not impossible, for him to win this fight because the only way he can get the victory is by boxing & moving for 12 rounds.
If Geffrard attempts to beat Smith with combination punching, he’s going to put himself at risk of getting caught by one of his big shots.
“I’m expecting an exciting fight for as long as it lasts,” said Bradley on the Joe Smith Jr. vs. Steve Geffrard clash on Saturday night on ESPN. “I don’t think this fight goes the distance. I think both guys have punching power and punch hard enough to hurt one another.
“I would have to favor Joe Smith Jr. in being the second hardest puncher in this division as of now, right behind Beterbiev,” said Bradley.
“I hear you, Tim, and you know why? Because the ears send the message to the brain just like the eyes,” said Kellerman.