Smith Jr will need to see off the threat of mandatory challenger Umar Salamov, who he is likely to face in October or November at Madison Square Garden in New York City, while hoping he can come through relatively unscathed before he can square off against his American rival.
GIVEMESPORT has verified with multiple people close to the situation following an initial report from ESPN‘s Mike Coppinger that, while contracts have not been signed, verbal agreements are in place for the 178-pound title matchup.
The aforementioned sources requested anonymity because Smith Jr’s co-promoter Bob Arum of Top Rank has yet to make an official announcement.
Smith Jr (27-3), 31, of Long Island, New York, hasn’t competed since capturing the vacant WBO light-heavyweight title against Maxim Vlasov at Osage Casino in April 2021.
The bout has been tipped to win Top Rank’s ‘Fight of the Year’ award, but the American titleholder, who is currently riding a three-fight winning streak, hasn’t seen action since.
No. 3-ranked WBC middleweight Jacobs, meanwhile, will have the chance to move up in weight and make an instant impact at 178 pounds.
After defeating Sergiy Derevyanchenko and winning the vacant IBF middleweight title, Jacobs dropped the gold in a humbling defeat to Canelo Alvarez by unanimous decision.
Jacobs is known for his devastating punching power, at one point winning eight straight fights by knockout, and his wars with Gennady Golovkin, Sergio Mora and Gabriel Rosado.
Speaking in a recent interview with The Ring magazine, Jacobs’ manager Keith Connolly confirmed reports that his client has held talks with Smith Jr’s representatives, saying that they were very satisfied with the offer on the table.
He said: “I think it was a great offer that Eddie [Hearn] made.
“It’s multiple times more than Joe Smith has ever made in his life, so I think it was a strong offer.
“It’ll be the biggest fight between New Yorkers in New York in a long time.
“I think Barclays Center and Madison Square Garden would be really interested in the fight.
“It would be a huge fight for New York and for boxing.”