Joe Smith Jr. & Steve Geffrard Set For Saturday Night
Light Heavyweight Title Showdown
Steve Geffrard wasn't supposed to be here. Last Friday, he
was preparing to weigh in for a fight in Delray Beach,
Florida, when he received a call. WBO light heavyweight
champion Joe Smith Jr. needed an opponent after British
puncher Callum Johnson contracted COVID-19.
Geffrard answered the call and will fight Smith this
Saturday evening at Turning Stone Resort Casino in Verona,
N.Y. (ESPN, ESPN Deportes & ESPN+, 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT).
Geffrard (18-2, 12 KOs), a South Florida native and former
U.S. amateur standout, was 0-2 before rattling off 18
consecutive victories. Smith (27-3, 21 KOs) defeated Maxim
Vlasov last April and will finally defend his title after a
COVID-19 diagnosis delayed his return.
In the 10-round co-feature, featherweight contender Abraham
Nova (20-0, 14 KOs) will look to extend his unbeaten record
against 2012 Dominican Olympian William Encarnacion (19-1,
The undercard will stream live on ESPN+ (7:45 p.m. ET/4:45
p.m. PT) and includes rising Puerto Rican star Omar Rosario
(5-0, 2 KOs), 18-year-old welterweight Jahi Tucker (5-0, 3
KOs), and recent U.S. Olympian Troy Isley (3-0, 2 KOs) in
At Thursday's press conference, this is what the fighters
had to say.
Joe Smith Jr.
“I can’t wait to be on ESPN this Saturday defending my world
title in front of the whole world. I’m extremely happy to be
here. There were a couple of moments where I thought I
wasn’t going to be here. I can't wait! Thanks to everyone
that made this happen."
“Since I became a world champion, the only thing that has
really changed for me is that I’m holding this title, and I
want to keep it that way."
“Geffrard has been inside the ring training with the best.
I’m sure he is going to give it his all and will try to take
full advantage of this once in a lifetime opportunity.”
“When those belts are on the line, that mental switch turns
on. I know that mentally and skill-wise I can battle with
the best. I have sparred with, and handled myself very well,
against the best of the division."
“I’m a fighter, especially with an opportunity like this.
I’m going to rise to the occasion. I’ll show the world who
Steve Geffrard is."
“I was in the sauna when I got the call for this fight. I
was looking forward to Smith vs. Johnson, but now I’m the
one fighting for the title. It’s surreal.”
“I'm excited because I’ll be fighting very close to my
hometown (Albany). You guys are going to see an
action-packed fighter. I’m ready to put on a great
performance. I’m looking for a big win on Saturday night."
“I want to shine and make a statement this Saturday. I want
to send a message to the featherweight division. By the end
of this year, I want to be fighting for a world title. I
would love to challenge Emanuel ‘Vaquero’ Navarrete for his
“For two months straight, we had a game plan for an
opponent, and at the last minute, we had a change of
opponent. What I have seen from my new opponent is that he
is a very good fighter. He has the skills and a high ring
IQ. He is an Olympian. It doesn’t matter. We have one goal,
and that is to win by all means necessary."
“I've been waiting for this moment for a long time. I am
thrilled about this opportunity."
“It has been a good preparation. I didn't even have a fight
date when they called me for this opportunity, but I always
keep training in the gym. I'm ready to go this Saturday.”