Who Wins: Joe Smith Jr. vs Maxim Vlasov – How To Watch, Cheat Sheet
When: Saturday, April 10th,
Where: Osage Casino, Tulsa, Oklahoma
How to Watch: ESPN Main Card Starts at 10 p.m. ET/ 7 p.m. PT. , ESPN+ Will Show Complete Undercard With 5:30 p.m. ET/ 2:30 p.m. PT.
Joe Smith Jr. vs Maxim Vlasov, for the vacant WBO light heavyweight world title
Odds: Joe Smith Jr. is a 4-1 favorite, Vlasov is +250 underdog.
Despite a slew of meaningful wins in Joe Smith, Jr’s career, being the man to retire Bernard Hopkins, defeating Jesse Hart, and stopping Eleider Alvarez as well as Andrzej Fonfara, Smith Jr. has never won the light heavyweight world title outright.
Vlasov, a former cruiserweight is on a three-fight winning streak that now sees him in line for this world title fight. Vlasov, last notable fight was a close one against former Top Rank world champion Gilberto “Zurdo” Ramirez, in which Vlasov lost a close fight.
The bout was originally set for earlier this year, but was pushed back after Vlasov failed his COVID-19 test. Smith Jr was in the midst of getting married, and had to prolong camp to get this opportunity.
So what does this fight come down to. Well, mostly if Joe Smith Jr starts fast and aggressive, Smith Jr is a transcendent puncher, and can change a fight with a punch, Vlasov despite having fought at heavier weights, will have to be elusive, in theory, and look to take the fight into the deeper rounds.
The fight feels to be the fitting milestone for Joe Smith Jr. to get a world title that many probably already thought he had earned by now in his career, and will set-up a future bout with IBF and WBC light heavyweight world champion Artur Beterbiev.
Efe Ajagba vs Brian Howard
Efe Ajagba is a recent Top Rank signee, and despite a lot of raw talent, has been a work-in-progress with his former promoter, RingStar. Ajagba should be favored against Howard, but Howard did KO Carlos Negron, a solid fighter, so this is a stern test to see where Ajagba can go in the near future.
What To Know About The Undercard
Heavyweight Jared “The Real Big Baby” Anderson feels like a heavyweight version of Teofimo Lopez, and has the makings of being a transcendent star of the sport. Anderson is someone to watch as he is the best emerging heavyweight in America currently, having won every one of his bouts by knockout so far.
Duke Ragan was #1 featherweight in USA Boxing for many years, as Ragan and Marc Castro would do battle at nationals, year after year. Ragan is improving steadily as a pro, and had about as good of a pro debut as a fighter could have with an iconic one-punch KO. Ragan will be a player in his division at some point, so keep an eye on him.
Trey Lippe Morrison, the son of Tommy Morrison, a staple of the Oklahoma fight scene. The Tulsa native might not be in the most competetive bout, but for those who remember his father, his son, looks like him, and has a similar style. A nice walk down memory lane.
The runner-up at the Olympic Trials Jeremiah Milton, a heavyweight, from Tulsa, will be return to fight in his hometown for the first time since turning pro. Milton has trained in the Bay Area, Florida, the U.K., and Las Vegas, since training for the Olympic Trials, so this homecoming should be meaningful and worth a watch.