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Shirley’s blue collar bruiser Joe Smith Jr. fights for title on April 10

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Barring any last-minute snafu, Shirley’s Joe Smith Jr. will finally square off against Maxim Vlasov this Saturday, April 10, for the WBO light heavyweight title.

Coverage of the fight will begin on ESPN about 10 p.m., with the boxers expected to step into the ring at Osage Casino in Tulsa, Oklahoma, about 11:15 p.m.

The two contenders were originally set to battle in the main event for Top Rank on ESPN on Feb. 13 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, but Vlasov tested positive for COVID-19 on Feb. 11.

The hard-punching Smith Jr. (26-3, 21 KOs) and the Russian veteran Vlasov (45-3, 26 KOs) are vying for the vacant WBO light heavyweight title in a bout famed boxing promoter Bob Arum has referred to as “‘Rocky IV’ come to life.” Arum predicted the bout will contend for Fight of the Year in 2021.

Smith, nicknamed “The Irish Bomber,” has won 21 of his bouts by knockout. In January 2020, he became the WBO-NABO light heavyweight champion with a split decision win over Jesse Hart.

Smith, 31, in his last fight successfully defended his title with a knockout win against Colombian Eleider Álvarez. The knockout victory that elevated Smith to star status was his successful WBC title defense against legend Bernard Hopkins in 2016.

Six months later, Smith lost his WBC belt to Sullivan Barrera of Cuba. A win over Vlasov would open to the door to even bigger opportunities for Smith.

The post Shirley’s blue collar bruiser Joe Smith Jr. fights for title on April 10 appeared first on GreaterMoriches – greaterlongisland.com.

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