Top Rank Boxing presents a major light heavyweight fight in Las Vegas on Saturday when former world champion Eleider Alvarez faces off with Joe Smith Jr. at the MGM Grand (7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN+). The fight was originally scheduled for July 16 but became one of many Top Rank bouts to fell apart during the promotion’s first attempts to hold shows from within “the bubble” in Las Vegas.
Alvarez suffered a shoulder injury ahead of the originally planned date but now looks ready to get back on the path to regaining a world title as the fight serves as one of two semifinal title eliminators for the WBO light heavyweight championship briefly held by Canelo Alvarez. Maxim Vlasov vs. Umar Salamov is the other matchup in that mix, though there’s no date set for that clash.
Both Alvarez (25-1 13 KOs) and Smith (25-3, 20 KOs) are talented light heavyweights with significant stopping power, though Alvarez holds the edge in technical boxing skills.
Alvarez scored an August 2018 knockout of Sergey Kovalev to win the IBA and WBO light heavyweight titles, scoring three knockdowns in the seventh round to get the finish. He also has notable wins over Jean Pascal and Lucian Bute in his career. A unanimous decision loss to Kovalev in their rematch ended Alvarez’s short reign as champion, but he rebounded by beating Michael Seals in January to get back in the win column while picking up a tertiary WBO belt in the process.
Smith has scored his own significant wins in his career, including beating Andrzej Fonfara, Jessie Hart and being the final man to ever step in the ring with Bernard Hopkins, knocking out the legend in his final fight. Smith has been outworked by more technical fighters in his career, losing decisions in recent years to Sullivan Barrera and Dmitry Bivol. But Smith’s big power keeps him a threat in any fight as long as he is on his feet.
Read on below for the full card and odds via William Hill Sportsbook.
Alvarez vs. Smith card, odds
Eleider Alvarez -220
Joe Smith Jr. +180
|Adrian Valdovinos||Israel Mercado||Super featherweight|
|Duke Ragan||Luis Alvarado||Featherweight|
As mentioned, Smith can be — and has been — beaten by fighters with better technical chops. There’s great potential for some hard-hitting action in this fight. Neither is big on movement but both are big on throwing hard shots. Alvarez could fight a bit smarter and engage less, allowing Smith fewer openings, but any little mistake could change the fight for either man. Alvarez is just faster and has better movement, even with two guys who don’t move a ton, so those edges should be enough to favor him. While a Smith upset wouldn’t be a shock, I like Alvarez to work well until finally finding a home for a right hand that has become increasingly dangerous. Pick: Alvarez via TKO8