By Huck Allen: Joe Smith Jr. has tested positive for COVID-19 and won’t be defending his WBO light heavyweight title against Umar Salamov on October 30th as planned.
As a result, Star Boxing promotions states that Smith’s defense against the #3 WBO Salamov (26-1, 19 KOs) fight will need to be postponed until a later date. The battle was supposed to take place at Madison Square Garden in New York.
An announcement will be made soon for the rescheduling of the Smith Jr. vs. Salamov fight. It’s a big letdown as boxing fans want to see Smith Jr. (27-3, 21 KOs) in action following his recent three impressive wins over Maxim Vlasov, Eleider Alvarez, and Jesse Hart.
Smith, 32, is coming into the zenith of his career after losing a wide 11 round unanimous decision to WBA light heavyweight champion Dmitry Bivol in March 2019.
That was an excellent learning fight for the Long Island, New York native Smith Jr, who has looked much-improved in his three contests since.
Joe Smith Jr’s statement
“I was in camp working hard. I am very disappointed that I won’t be able to defend my title in October due to having COVID.
“When I am better, I will be back in the gym preparing to fight as soon as I can and put on a great show for all my fans,” said Smith Jr.
Perhaps the real downside of Smith’s positive COVID-19 test is it delays his movement towards bigger fights against the 175-lb champions in the division.
Smith Jr. wants to fight IBF/WBC light heavyweight champion Artur Beterbiev in a unification, and he’d like to avenge his loss to WBA champion Bivol as soon as possible as well.
The 27-year-old Salamov isn’t a big fight for Smith, and he’s not a big enough name to where a victory over him will resonate with the boxing public. Smith needs to get this stay-busy match against Salamov done with, and then move on to bigger & better things.
Las Vegas resident Salamov has won his last seven fights since losing his lone career defeat against Damien Hooper in a 10 round unanimous decision 2017.
Unfortunately, that loss may not have been a fluke thing for Salamov, as the Australian Hooper was the better fighter of the two.
Canelo Alvarez is expected to be moving up to 175 if he successfully becomes the undisputed 168-lb champion in his November 6th match against IBF champ Caleb Plant.
If Canelo does move up to 175, he’s going to look in Joe Smith’s direction to try and recapture his WBO belt, which he previously held after defeating champion Sergey Kovalev in 2019.
Smith needs to focus on fighting better opposition if he wants to make a name forhimself. His recent wins over Jesse Hart and Eleider Alvarez came against opposition won’t do much for his career.