Joe Smith Jr vs Callum Johnson for WBO light heavyweight title confirmed for January 15 in New York

  • Tom Ward
Joe Smith Jr defends his WBO light heavyweight belt against Callum Johnson on January 15

Callum Johnson’s golden opportunity to face WBO light heavyweight champion Joe Smith Jr has been confirmed to take place on January 15. 

The Boston brawler, 36, will be hoping it will be second time lucky after being knocked out by Artur Beterbiev in October 2018. 

ESPN’s Mike Coppinger took to Twitter to announce that both fighters have signed off on a deal that will see them headline a Top Rank Boxing show at Turning Stone Resort Casino next year in New York.  

Coppinger later revealed that No1 mandatory challenger Umar Salamov was the targeted opponent for Smith Jr’s return.

GIVEMESPORT reported that Smith Jr was scheduled to fight the Russian at Madison Square Garden on October 30, where the American would make his first-ever title defence in his hometown.

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However, those plans soon vanished in a puff of smoke, as Top Rank were apparently forced to look elsewhere after they encountered problems with his visa.  

It will be Johnson’s first fight in the US since his third-round knockout win over America’s Sean Monaghan in March 2019.

The British star will be looking to get his hands on his first major title since he won the British light-heavyweight title with a first-round knockout of Frank Buglioni in 2018. 

Joe Smith Jr defends his WBO light heavyweight belt against Callum Johnson on January 15

Johnson’s last fight didn’t go so well, however, as he barely managed to scrape past Server Emurlaev last month to retain his WBO Global light-heavyweight title at the Utilita Arena in Birmingham. 

Smith, 32, is one of boxing‘s most underappreciated champions and is also one of the biggest punchers at 175 pounds. 

He boasts a record of 27 victories from 30 fights, while Johnson enters the clash with a record of 21 wins and one defeat.

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Smith was last seen in the ring in April when he beat Russian star Maxim Vlasov by majority decision.

Speaking after the fight, his co-promoter Bob Arum said: “Our next available date for Joe is in January.

“So in the spring, I’d like to do the unification fight or if Beterbiev is successful against Browne, maybe Canelo Alvarez.

“That would be a HUGE event, Canelo Alvarez against Beterbiev.”

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