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.

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.

“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.