Eleider Alvarez will face Joe Smith Jr in a WBO Light-Heavyweight title eliminator on August 22nd in Las Vegas, Top Rank have announced.
’Storm’ Alvarez (25-1, 13 KOs) was set to face his American rival on July 16th, but was forced to withdraw from the clash after sustaining a shoulder injury.
The pair, ranked three and four respectively by the WBO will headline Top Rank’s return inside ’The Bubble’ at the MGM Grand Conference Center after a brief break following the conclusion of their summer series.
Former WBO World champion, Alvarez is looking to launch a second tilt after inflicting a stunning knockout of Sergey Kovalev in 2018, before losing his crown in the immediate rematch.
The 36-year-old Colombian produced a showreel knockout of Michael Seals in January to launch himself back into contention and is confident of seeing off Smith Jr.
“This fight is critical for both of our careers. I respect Joe Smith, who has proven to be an elite fighter.
“However, I have all the tools to beat him, and that’s what I intend to do.
“My goal is to become a two-time light heavyweight world champion.”
Smith Jr (25-3, 20 KOs) has standout wins over former World title challenger Andrzej Fonfara followed by an eight round stoppage of two-weight titlist Bernard Hopkins, who retired after the bout.
‘The Irish Bomber’ bounced back from defeat to Dmitry Bivol in a challenge for the Russian’s WBA title with victory over Jesse Hart in his last fight in January and the 30-year-old admits he’s approaching it as if it was a world title bout.
“This fight means everything to me.
“It’s my path to a world title fight, and I know this is my second chance to turn my dream into reality.
“Alvarez is a former world champion, and in my mind, I am treating this as a world title fight.
“To get there, I have to, and will, win this fight.”
The winner of this fight is likely to face the victor of the expected all-Russian clash between number one contender Umar Salamov and Maxim Maslov, which is awaiting a formal announcement.
The WBO belt has been vacant since December after Canelo Alvarez relinquished his crown after knocking out Kovalev last November.
“I can’t wait to sit back and watch this fight, which features two of the light heavyweight division’s biggest punchers,” said Top Rank chairman Bob Arum.
“It’s a 50-50 fight and a great way to kick off our return to MGM Grand.”