Joe Smith Jr. to defend WBO light heavyweight title vs. Steve Geffrard on Jan. 15

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Joe Smith Jr. (Getty Images)

It's been a bumpy road, but Joe Smith Jr. will now be making the first defense of his WBO light heavyweight title. 

Boxing Scene first reported, and DAZN News has confirmed Smith takes on Steve Geffrard on Saturday, Jan. 15, from Turning Stone Resort Casino in Verona, NY. A source has told DAZN News that Top Rank and Star Boxing, who promote Smith, reached out to numerous fighters, most of whom either turned down the fight or were not on weight. And when approached, Geffrard jumped at the opportunity. 

In April, Smith (27-3, 21 KOs) captured the WBO belt, beating Maxim Vlasov by majority decision. Initially, Smith had been scheduled to face Umar Salamov in October. But Smith came down with COVID-19. So it was rescheduled for next weekend. But Salamov could not obtain a visa from his native Russia and was forced to bow out. Then former 175-pound title challenger Callum Johnson was tabbed as the replacement. But Johnson pulled out this week due to contracting COVID-19. So now, Geffrard moved in and has a golden opportunity.

"I give Steve credit for taking this fight on short notice,” Smith said in a press release. “He is a tough guy, and I expect him to bring everything he has for this opportunity. I'm ready to fight regardless of who is in the ring with me. My goal is the same, which is to defend my world title and keep it on Long Island where it belongs."

After losing the first two bouts of his professional career, Geffrard (18-2, 12 KOs) rides an 18-fight winning streak into the Smith contest. He fought once in 2021, beating Denis Grachev via unanimous decision. 

“This is the opportunity of a lifetime, Geffrard said. "It’s crazy how boxing works. One moment I’m thinking about boxing on a local show, then the phone rings for a chance to fight for the WBO world title on ESPN. Unreal!”

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