Top Rank just cannot catch a break. Mike Coppinger reports that the July 16th ESPN main event between Eleider Alvarez and Joe Smith Jr., which was meant to serve as a semifinal eliminator for the vacant WBO light heavyweight title, is off after Alvarez suffered an injury “unrelated to COVID.” TVA Sports’ Jeff Jeffrey confirms the news, revealing that Alvarez injured his shoulder and that the fight could land at the end of August or in September.
This is a bummer, to say the least. Beyond being one of the summer’s best-matched and highest-profile fights, Alvarez (25-1, 13 KO) and Smith (25-3, 20 KO) looked likely to put on a show. This development will likely bump Andrew Cancio’s match with late replacement Cesar Valenzuela to main event status, and while “El Chango” is heaps of fun, it’s a far less appealing matchup than a clash between world-ranked light heavyweights.
Top Rank had already lost Mikaela Mayer vs. Helen Joseph, Jose Pedraza vs. Mikkel LesPierre, and Jamel Herring vs. Jonathan Oquendo to the coronavirus, though they managed to swiftly re-book each matchup. Let’s hope Alvarez’s injury is minor enough for them to do the same here.