Joe Smith Jr Vacant Title Fight Off- Opponent Vlasov has Covid 19
In what had been a more regular occurrence, as boxing resumed last Summer, a prominent main event fight is once again off for a positive Covid 19 test. This, as Maxim Vlasov will be unable to battle Joe Smith Jr. for the vacant WBO Light Heavyweight Title on Saturday night in Las Vegas.
Top Rank Boxing made the mid-afternoon Pacific time announcement on social media that the Russian Vlasov had tested positive arriving in their bubble at the MGM Grand and there would be no replacement,
BREAKING NEWS: #SmithVlasov postponed ⬇️
Saturday's ESPN broadcast:
🥊 Commey-Marinez – Main event
🥊 Adam Lopez vs. Jason Sanchez – Co-main event
🥊 Jared Anderson vs. Kingsley Ibeh – ESPN opener at 10pm ET pic.twitter.com/nONNGTbTHA
— Top Rank Boxing (@trboxing) February 11, 2021
Smith Jr. (26-3, 21 KOs) spent his 2020 rebounding from a loss to Unified Champ Dimtri Bivol by getting back into the title picture at 175 pounds with back to back wins of Jesse Hart and then, knocking out former world champion Eleider Alvarez in an August title eliminator.
Vlasov (45-3, 26 KOs) has been waiting for this title opportunity, as well, since signing a promotional pact with Top Rank Boxing last March. He moved down to Light Heavyweight in early 2019 and soon joined the ranks of the top contenders. In a six-month span, Vlasov stopped Omar Garcia in four rounds, topped longtime contender Isaac Chilemba by unanimous decision to avenge a 2011 defeat, and shut out the previously undefeated Emmanuel Martey over 10 rounds.
Smith (26-3, 21 KOs) is best known for sending living legend Bernard Hopkins through the ropes and into retirement in 2016, and has to be frustrated that a new opponent will likely have to be found or he will probably have to fight at least in March, if not later for the World title.
The two were to have fought for the belt vacated by Canelo Alvarez, who wants to continue fight as a Super Middleweight.
Covid 19 positive tests have already involved WBO 140 lb. champ Jamel Herring’s fight with Jonathan Oquendo last August being postponed and also last November’s anticipated Heavyweight rematch of Russian Alexander Povetkin and England’s Dillian Whyte. Povetkin, who knocked Whyte out cold with one punch last August, contracted the virus and had to be hospitalized, twice.
The Povetkin-Whyte bout is now re-scheduled for next month.
Meanwhile, back to Saturday night’s card for Top Rank and ESPN, they’ve elevated their Lightweight contender fight between former IBF champ Richard Commey and Victor Martinez to the main event.