Joe Smith Jr was scheduled to make his first WBO title defense on Saturday, Oct. 30, but that will have to be postponed after Smith tested positive for COVID-19.
Smith (27-3, 21 KO) is lined up to face mandatory challenger Umar Salamov, and the fight was going to take place at the Hulu Theater, the “small room” at Madison Square Garden in New York. He won the vacant title on April 10, scoring a debated decision victory over Maxim Vlasov in Oklahoma.
“I was in camp working hard. I am very disappointed that I won’t be able to defend my title in October due to having COVID,” Smith said via press release. “When I am better I will be back in the gym preparing to fight as soon as I can and put on a great show for all my fans.”
“We are disappointed that we must postpone Joe Smith’s first world title defense in front of his dedicated New York fanbase,” Star Boxing promoter Joe DeGuardia added. “Currently, our sole focus is to make sure that Joe is healthy and we wish him a speedy recovery. News on a rescheduled fight date will be announced soon.”
It’s the second fight for Smith to be postponed this year due to COVID. He and Vlasov were originally meant to fight in February, but Vlasov tested positive and the fight had to be postponed two months. There’s still a chance that Smith-Salamov will happen before the year is out, but available dates might make that a little tricky, especially with one weekend a general no-go due to Christmas Eve and Christmas being on a Friday and Saturday this year, and the following weekend being New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.