Joe Smith Jr was set to defend his WBO light heavyweight title on January 15h against Callum Johnson. Just last night it was reported that Johnson had to pull out of the fight due to a positive covid test. Prior to Johnson falling out of this fight, it was said that Anthony Yarde is next in line for a title shot. The question remains, will Yarde be ready to take this fight on short notice or will Joe Smith be looking to rebook this fight for later down the line. Craig Richards has also been rumored to replace Johnson on the 15th, tweeting that his bags are packed and he is just waiting for his schedule for fight week.
Craig Richards is the WBA international light heavyweight champion, the WBA continental light heavyweight champion, and the BBBofC British light heavyweight title. Richards has a professional boxing record of 17-2-1 with 10 of those 17 wins being knockouts. He lost a decision to Dmitry Bivol in May and then knocked out Marek Matyja in October of 2021. Craig Richards is currently ranked 12th in the world and fourth in the UK.
Anthony Yarde is currently ranked 11th in the world and third in the UK. He has a professional record of 22-2 with 21 of those 22 wins being knockouts. He was only knocked out in one of his two losses and that one knockout loss was to Sergey Kovalev. Yarde is 1-1 against Lyndon Arthur, knocking Arthur out in his last fight back in December. Since he fought as recently as December, it is not likely that he would want to jump in and take this short notice fight in eight days.
Joe Smith Jr
Joe Smith Jr is the WBO light heavyweight champion of the world. Smith will be coming into this fight with a professional record of 27-3 with 21 wins by knockout. He is coming into this fight on a three-fight winning streak with wins over Maxim Vlasov, Eleider Alvarez, and Jesse Hart. He is most famous for his knockout over Benard Hopkins where he knocked Hopkins out of the ring. Smith has won the WBC International light heavyweight title, the WBA world light heavyweight title, and now the WBO light heavyweight title. He has said that he is not chasing big money fights and he just would like to work on his legacy and prove that he is the best light heavyweight boxer in the world. With that being said he may just plan to wait for Anthony Yarde. On the other hand, he has been training for a long time and is ready to fight, it is entirely possible he takes a fight on short notice just to stay active.
The fight between Smith and Johnson was set to be the main event of Top Rank on January 15h. The co-main event is set to be 20-0, Abraham Nova taking on 19-1, William Encarnacion. This card will be shown exclusively on ESPN/ESPN+ and will be taking place at the Turning Stone Resort & Casino in Verona, New York.
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