Joe Smith Jr. he will have to keep waiting to defend his WBO title in semi-heavyweight. Callum Johnson, his planned opponent on January 15, had to back out of the fight after being tested positive for COVID-19.
Mike Coppinger of ESPN was the first to report. Top officials are working to find a new rival for Smith. Promoter Frank Warren told BBC Sport that he hopes Smith vs. Johnson will be re-booking soon.
“It’s a real shame for Callum,” Warren said. “I hope we can get him back, they may want to [reschedule the fight] late spring. He worked really hard to get a chance. “
Johnson, the 2010 Commonwealth Gold Medalist, made his professional debut this year. Johnson, a former Commonwealth and British heavyweight champion, lost to Arthur Beterbiev in 2018 for the IBF semi-heavyweight title. Since then, he has won three in a row, his last match being the victory over Server Emurlaev in October by a majority decision.
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Smith made his professional debut in 2009. Last April, he won the WBO semi-heavyweight title against Maxim Vlasov. In 2021, he tested positive for COVID.
Although no new opponent is known and Johnson is still struggling for the title, Warren hopes Smith will face Anthony Yard.
“I’d like to play Joe Smith vs. Anthony Yarde in the United Kingdom, “said Warren. He is number 1 [challenger]. Anthony looked so good in his last fight against Lyndon Arthur. Anyway, we got him to fight sometime in March. Crossed fingers. We’ll see what happens to Smith next week and how he goes, and then from there. “
Yarde, 30, made his professional debut in 2015. The former European and intercontinental WBO heavyweight champion lost to Sergei Kovalev in 2019 for the WBO semi-heavyweight title. Since then, he leads 4: 1. In his final match, he defeated Arthur in retaliation last December to win the Commonwealth and WBO Intercontinental titles in the heavyweight.
“He has gained experience since then [fighting] Sergei Kovalev is worth it, “said Warren.
Saul “Canelo” Alvarez, the undisputed king of super middleweight, is also interested in fighting Smith.