After months of delays due to COVID-19, two top fights have finally been rebooked by Top Rank.
The promotion announced that Joe Smith Jr. and Eleider Alvarez will face one another on August 22 in a WBO Light-Heavyweight Title eliminator bout. On August 29, WBC Junior-Welterweight Champion Jose Ramirez will face mandatory challenger Viktor Postol. Both fight nights will be taking place inside the MGM Grand Conference Center in Las Vegas, Nevada.
No fans will be in attendance as the “Bubble” has been hosting events for Top Rank since June.
The winner of Smith (25-3) v. Alvarez (25-1) will face the winner of Umar Salamov v. Maxim Vlasov to determine a new WBO Light-Heavyweight Champion. The two had a planned bout for July 16 but was nixed when Alvarez had to back out due to an injured shoulder while training. Initial reports had the rescheduled bout taking place between August 20 and August 22.
Smith is 2-2 in his last four fights. “The Irish Bomber” last fought in January, beating Jesse Hart via split decision. A former WBC International Light-Heavyweight Champion, Smith has only fought for a world title once. Back in March, the 30-year-old lost to Dmitry Bivol for the WBA Light-Heavyweight Title.
Alvarez also last fought in January, beating Michael Seals via KO in the seventh round. He won the WBC Continental Americas Light-Heavyweight Title in the process. A former WBO Light-Heavyweight Champion, Alvarez lost the title to Sergey Kovalev back in February 2019 after initially beating him for it.
Ramirez (25-0) is coming off of a TKO-win over Maurice Hooker back in July 2019. He won the WBO Junior-Welterweight Title to go along with his WBC belt. The 27-year-old won the vacant WBC belt back in 2018, beating Amir Iman. Postol (31-2) is coming off of a unanimous decision win over Mohamed Mimoune back in April 2019 to become the mandatory challenger. He is on a two-fight win streak following a 1-2 record from 2016 to the middle of 2018.
The two were supposed to fight in China earlier in the year, but the bout was postponed due to the coronavirus heavily affecting the area. They were then booked for May in California, but it was once again postponed due to the pandemic growing in America. Previous reports stated that the last week in August would end up being when the bout could take place.
Both fights will air on ESPN and are expected to feature a stacked undercard.