Thursday, September 21, 2023  |


Maxim Vlasov tests positive for Covid-19, fight with Joe Smith Jr. off

Joe Smith Jr. knocks Bernard Hopkins out of the ring.
Fighters Network

The Joe Smith Jr. vs. Maxim Vlasov fight, which was scheduled to headline this Saturday’s Top Rank card on ESPN, is off after Vlasov tested positive for Covid-19, the promotion announced Thursday.

As a result, the lightweight bout between Richard Commey and Jackson Marinez will be elevated to the main event at the MGM Grand’s “Bubble” in Las Vegas.

The Smith-Vlasov fight was to be contested for the vacant WBO light heavyweight title. Smith Jr. (26-3, 21 knockouts) of Long Island is the no. 1 contender with the WBO, riding high off of wins over Jesse Hart and Eleider Alvarez, while Vlasov (45-3, 26 KOs) is rated no. 3.

“I am devastated with the postponement of my world title fight against Joe Smith Jr.,” said Vlasov in a press release. “I have been following strict protocols, I have done regular testing with negative results, and I have no symptoms. I am well prepared and had an excellent training camp. I look forward to the rescheduling of the fight and the opportunity to display my world class skills.”

Marinez (19-1, 7 KOs) of the Dominican Republic is looking to bounce back from his first defeat, a unanimous decision to Rolando Romero in August, while Commey (29-3, 26 KOs) is fighting for the first time since suffering a second round knockout to Teofimo Lopez in 2019.

The card will go on as planned at 10 p.m. on ESPN, with Adam Lopez facing Jason Sanchez in the 10-round featherweight co-feature, and Jared Anderson facing Kingsley Ibeh in a six-round heavyweight bout. The undercard will stream live on ESPN+ at 8:15 p.m.