WBO Light Heavyweight Champion Joe Smith Jr. has set the date and location for his next title defense. According ESPN‘s boxing insider Mike Coppinger, Smith Jr. will defend his title in Verona, New York on January 12 against Callum Johnson. If Johnson emerges with a win, Coppinger says it is likely that he will fight super middleweight contender Daniel Jacobs for the light heavyweight title later this year. Given both fighter’s New York roots, the showdown would likely take place at Madison Square Garden or the Barclays Center.
Smith Jr. is part of a trio of top light heavyweights that plans to fight within the next three months. Top ranked light heavyweight Artur Beterbiev is set to fight Marcus Brown on December 18. Meanwhile, Gilberto Ramirez will fight Yunieski Gonzalez one week before Christmas. With Dmitry Bivol seemingly out of the Saul “Canelo” Alvarez sweepstakes for the time being, it appears that he will look to schedule a fight in the near future as well.
On the outside looking in, Sergey Kovalev has not fought since being knocked out by Alvarez in November 2019. Maxim Vlasov has not fought since losing to Smith Jr. in April and Joshua Buatsi remains without a fight after earning his 15th straight win. Not to mention, Callum Smith is still searching for his next fight after making the jump to 175 pounds in September.