Joe Smith Jr. and Abraham Nova huge favourites in underwhelming Top Rank Card

Leeeeetttt’s get ready to rumble! Well, sort of.

2022 has gotten off to a very slow start in the boxing world, with Saturday night’s show in Verona the first real piece of action to digest in the new year.

And it’s hardly a blockbuster…

Joe Smith Jr defends his WBO light-heavyweight title against late-replacement Steve Geffrard following a positive Covid-19 test from original opponent Callum Johnson, and Abraham Nova fights William Encarnacion in a featherweight clash.

Let’s take a closer look at the action:

Smith Jr out to make a statement

New opponent, but same goal for Joe Smith Jr.

The 32-year-old is making the first defence of his WBO world light-heavyweight title on Saturday night, with late-replacement Steve Geffrard tasked with causing a mammoth upset.

Smith Jr – nor Top Rank – can be blamed for this headline contest.

Callum Johnson was a fantastic opponent for the American, but a positive Covid-19 test for the Briton has put this fight on the waiting list for now.

3 DAYS ??

Till the always-entertaining Joe Smith Jr. makes the first defense of his WBO Light Heavyweight title. #SmithGeffrard | SATURDAY | ESPN

— Top Rank Boxing (@trboxing) January 12, 2022

Geffrard is very inexperienced at the top level, contesting a 12-round fight just once back in 2016 against Dmitry Sukhotskiy.

In fact, the 31-year-old from Miami has only entered the ring three times since December 2016…

We’re expecting an easy night’s work for the champion, in nothing but a tick-over.

He’s registered 21 KOs in 27 wins and another is likely in Verona.

“Super” Nova close to a world title shot?

Joe Smith Jr isn’t the only fighter dealing with a last-replacement this Saturday.

126-pound contender Abraham Nova now fights William Encarnacion in the chief support to the title fight in Verona, with original opponent Jose Enrique Vivas pulling out due to Covid-19 complications. 

“I’m the local star this Saturday,” Nova explained to without an ounce of arrogance. “I’m close to my home town – about an hour away – and there will be a lot of fans coming to see me. The pressure is on me to perform, but that’s what I’ll do.

“Supernova” @AbrahamNova22 says his hand speed is explosive?#SmithGeffrard | JAN 15 | ESPN

— Top Rank Boxing (@trboxing) January 11, 2022

“A win will put me right in the mix with the best featherweights and in the conversation for a world title fight. I’m coming to make a statement on Saturday night – I’m not here to be played with.”

We’re expecting a statement win for the unbeaten Nova on Saturday, with Encarnacion making his debut outside of the Dominican Republic.