Joe Smith Jr v Callum Johnson postponed after Covid-19 positive

The light heavyweight world title fight between Joe Smith Jr and Callum Johnson has been postponed due to Johnson testing positive for Covid-19.

The Briton was due to take on the WBO champion in New York on January 15, providing as a beacon of light in the otherwise fruitless month of action, but his shot at a world title will now have to wait.

Joe Smith Jr (27-3) will still compete that evening live on ESPN in the United States against an unnamed opponent. 

It has proved somewhat of a role-swap for Smith, who tested positive for Covid-19 himself last September and was forced to pull out of a title defence against Umar Salamov.

Speculation is rife as to who will replace Johnson on January 15.

His Top Rank promotors are claiming to be close to “finalizing” a deal, but the odds of the 32-year-old landing a significant name look pretty slim with just a week to go.

Smith was priced at 2/7 with bet365 to beat Johnson in this cancelled title defence, but expect him to be significantly shorter when a replacement is named.

“It’s a real great shame for Callum,” promoter Frank Warren told BBC Sport.

“Hopefully we can get him back in, they may want to [reschedule the fight] in late spring. He worked really hard to get the opportunity.”