Joe Smith Jr would rather unify than fight Canelo Alvarez

  • Tom Ward
Joe Smith Jr would rather unify than fight Canelo Alvarez

Joe Smith Jr has one thing on his mind heading into his fight with Callum Johnson next weekend and it’s NOT Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez.

WBO light heavyweight champion Smith Jr will make the first defence of his world title on January 15 in New York City. 

The 32-year-old American, who last fought in April 2021 when he won the belt after defeating Maxim Vlasov on points, is scheduled to the ring at Turning Stone Resort Casino.

Victory for the Long Island native will keep him on a collision course for a unification bout against fellow champions Artur Beterbiev and Dmitry Bivol possibly before the end of the year. 

Top Rank promoter Bob Arum recently revealed Canelo Alvarez has expressed interest in facing either Beterbiev or Smith Jr. 

But if he has a choice he knows who he would pick for his next fight.  

During a recent appearance as a guest on The Last Stand podcast with Brian Custer, he said: “I want to unify. I want to fight Beterbiev and Bivol. Really, those are the only fights I want to take, it’s those two.

Joe Smith Jr beat Maxim Vlasov by unanimous decision

“Unless Canelo comes up, and he wants to fight, I’ll take that fight. 

“But I want to unify, I don’t want to go backwards, I’m trying to get all of them, all the belts.”

A fight with Canelo would no doubt be one of the if not the most lucrative of his career. 

However, Smith doesn’t care about any of that, as he insists he is only motivated by his legacy.

He added: “At this point, everybody would choose the Canelo fight, just because there’s money to be made there.

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“But really, for my legacy, I want to be known as a great fighter, so I would like to fight Beterbiev and Bivol.”

Smith is well aware of what could be in store for him in 2022, but for now his focus is solely on Johnson, who had some success of his own against Beterbiev.

He continued: “With this sport, you never know, if they’re willing to come to me and fight, I’ll take any one of them. 

Those are the fights I want, but I know I gotta [sic] get past Johnson and make a statement with him.

“That’s gonna [sic] open up the doors for these big fights to happen.”

READ MORE: Canelo Alvarez sends ‘special’ message to Tyson Fury and Oleksandr Usyk

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