Joe Smith Jr’s next fight could be part of a two-fight deal in New York City beginning with Umar Salamov.
Although no deal has been agreed ESPN’s Mike Coppinger reported the news yesterday that the WBO light-heavyweight champion would make the first defence of his title in the Big Apple in either October or November.
Smith won the title in April overcoming the Russian challenge of Maxim Vlasov and the popular American could now face Vlasov’s countryman Umar Salamov at Madison Square Garden’s Hulu Theatre.
Salamov, who has 26 wins from 27 fights, is unbeaten in five outings. The sole defeat on his record came in Australia against Damien Hooper in July 2017. A fight against Smith represents a massive step up in class for Salamov who has fought once in America stopping Brian Howard three years ago.
Salamov had been due to face Vlasov in a WBO world title eliminator last October which was then postponed until the following month. Salamov then tested positive for Covid-19 which prompted the WBO to make Smith Jr v Vlasov for the title vacated by Canelo Alvarez.
Should Smith Jr take care of business against Salamov then a bigger venue and paycheque may await him early next year. Mike Coppinger believes that the Long Islander would then face Brooklynite Danny Jacobs at Madison Square Garden in January or February. The all-New York affair would likely capture the imagination of the city’s boxing community and gives Jacobs the opportunity to become a two-weight world champion having already succeeded in being a two-time middleweight champion. A bout against Smith would represent the first task at 175lbs for Jacobs.
The spanner in the works may come from Smith’s Top Rank promoter Bob Arum who wants to pit the American against IBF and WBC unified holder Artur Beterbiev. Reports circled yesterday that Beterbiev was expected to put pen to paper on that deal this week. Boxing Social reached out to Team Smith yesterday for a comment on that matter, but they politely declined.
British eyes will keep check on how the situation plays out with Queensbury Promotions’ Lyndon Arthur, the WBO number one contender, hoping to land a world title opportunity next year. It appears that before then however he will have to renew hostilities with Anthony Yarde in a contracted rematch later this year.
Main image: Mikey Williams