Two months later, Joe Smith Jr. and Maxim Vlasov are ready to fight.
Both boxers made weight for their WBO light heavyweight title fight, which takes place Saturday evening live in front of a sold-out crowd at Osage Casino in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Smith (26-3, 21KOs) weighed 174.8 pounds in his bid to become just the fourth-ever boxer from Long Island (New York) to win a major title. Russia’s Vlasov (45-3, 26KO) tipped the scale at 175 pounds for his first major title fight.
The two were due to meet on Feb. 13th at MGM Grand Conference Center in Las Vegas. Their scheduled ESPN headliner was postponed after Vlasov tested positive for COVID-19, with the news coming just two days prior to fight night.
Smith enters riding a two-fight win streak, including a 9th round knockout of former WBO titlist Eleider Alvarez last August in the MGM Bubble. The feat secured his place for a second career title fight, having come up well short in a 12-round decision defeat to unbeaten WBA 175-pound titlist Dmitry Bivol in March 2019.
Vlasov has won his last three starts, all coming at light heavyweight after moving down from cruiserweight. His last fight at the higher weight came in a 12-round unanimous decision loss to Krzysztof Glowacki in their Nov. 2018 WBO interim cruiserweight title fight.
In his most recent start, Vlasov scored a 10-round shutout of Emmanuel Martey in Nov. 2019. His 2020 campaign was limited to a canceled WBO title eliminator versus countryman Umar Salamov, who tested positive ahead of their oft-postponed and ultimately scrapped clash due to have taken place last fall.
The winner will claim the vacant WBO title left behind by Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez more than a year ago in his bid to instead campaign at super middleweight.
The evening’s chief support pits Nigerian heavyweight prospect Efe Ajagba (14-0, 11KOs) in a scheduled 10-round bout versus Georgia’s Brian Howard (15-4, 12KOs).
Ajagba—who is now based out of the greater Houston area—weighed 239.6 pounds for his second fight since signing with Top Rank and manager James Prince. Howard—a career cruiserweight who moved up in weight in 2019—checked in at a career-heaviest but well-distributed 218 pounds.
Both bouts air live on ESPN, ESPN Deportes and ESPN+ beginning at 10:00 p.m. ET.
Below are the weights for the undercard bouts which will air live on ESPN+ beginning 5:30 p.m. ET.
Robson Conceição (15-0, 7KOs), Salvador, Brazil, 128.4 pounds vs. Jesus Ahumada (17-3, 11KOs), Hermosillo, Mexico, 129 pounds—8 rounds, junior lightweight (129-pound contracted limit)
Jared Anderson (8-0, 8KOs), Toledo, Ohio, 251.8 pounds vs. Jeremiah Karpency (16-2-1, 6KOs), Morgantown, West Virginia, 226.6 pounds—8 rounds, heavyweight
Duke Ragan (3-0, 1KO), Cincinnati, 125.8 pounds vs. Charles Clark (3-6-1, 1KO), Dallas, 126.6 pounds—6 rounds, featherweight
Albert Bell (17-0, 5KOs), Toledo, Ohio, 132.2 pounds vs. Manuel Rojas (20-4, 6KOs), Dallas, 132 pounds—8 rounds, junior lightweight
Trey Lippe Morrison (16-0, 16KOs), Tulsa, 225.8 pounds vs. Jason Bergman (27-19-2, 18KOs), Birmingham, Alabama, 256 pounds—8 rounds, heavyweight
Jeremiah Milton (2-0, 2KOs), Las Vegas via Tulsa, 231.8 pounds vs. Jayvone Dafney (2-2, 2KOs), McComb, Mississippi, 222.6 pounds—4 rounds, heavyweight
Sonny Conto (6-0, 5KOs), Philadelphia, 230.4 pounds vs. Waldo Cortes (6-3, 3KOs), Phoenix, 262 pounds—4 rounds, heavyweight
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox