American light heavyweight champion Joe Smith Jr. makes his first light heavyweight title defence this weekend, taking on Steve Geffrard, a largely unknown quantity from Florida.

The bout was originally scheduled to take place against Britain’s Callum Johnson but an untimely illness forced the late substitution of Geffrard, who’s fortune will see him compete for the first major title of his career.

Although less enticing than originally billed, the focus will remain on Joe Smith Jr.’s inaugural performance as champion of the world. We preview the fight and pick out the best odds.

A star in the making?

Boxing has taken a seat on the periphery of the A-lister sports in the United States with its key figures no longer garnering the same appeal as the stars of yesteryear; many even argue that the UFC has taken its place as the number one combat sport in the country.

But Joe Smith Jr.’s story is one that emulates the fabled ‘American Dream’. A blue-collar story starting as a humble union labourer in New York, now mixing it with the some of the biggest names in boxing such as Bernard Hopkins and Dmitry Bivol, there’s a lot to like about the rise of the Long Island born brawler.

It’s unfortunate that the original opponent in Callum Johnson fell through, who’s cult UK following would have helped to draw more eyes to the contest. Fans will have to settle for an all-American affair on January 15.

Though we’re yet to see Smith Jr. beat the biggest names of the division, a win here would put him firmly on the map for unification bouts with Artur Beterbiev and a rematch with Dmitry Bivol.

These are the fights that’ll define Smith Jr.’s career, one currently famed most for being first boxer to score a stoppage victory over former undisputed middleweight world champion Bernard Hopkins, who retired after their fight.

Smith Jr. stands as the current favourite at 1/12 to win outright, with Geffrard a 7/1 outsider.

You can find all our markets for this fight here.