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Eleider Alvarez and Joe Smith Jr set to clash in crucial crossroads bout on August 22

Anthony Cocks

Australian-based boxing journalist Anthony Cocks has been covering the sport for over 15 years for various print and online publications. He refuses to believe that Roberto Duran ever lost to Tommy Hearns and says that Jeff Fenech would destroy Chuck Norris, Bruce Lee and Muhammad Ali on the same night.

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In an intriguing clash between leading contenders Eleider ‘Storm’ Alvarez 25-1 (13) will meet Joe ‘The Beast’ Smith Jr 25-3 (20) in a WBO light heavyweight world title eliminator at ‘The Bubble’ at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada on August 22 live on ESPN+.

The duo was originally slated to fight July 16, but Alvarez suffered a shoulder injury.

The 36-year-old Alvarez logged back-to-back wins against Lucien Bute and Jean Pascal in 2017 before upsetting Sergey Kovalev by seventh-round knockout to win the WBO 175-pound championship in 2018. The following year Kovalev got his revenge on points.

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“This fight is critical for both of our careers,” Alvarez said.

“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.”

The 30-year-old Smith Jr of Long Island is coming off a 10-round split decision win over fellow contender Jesse Hart in January. He famously knocked out Bernard Hopkins in eight rounds in 2016 and has only lost to Dmitry Bivol and Sullivan Barrera in the past 10 years, both times on points.

“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,” Smith Jr said.

“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.”

Promoter Bob Arum of Top Rank added: “I can’t wait to sit back and watch this fight, which features two of the light heavyweight division’s biggest punchers. It’s a 50-50 fight and a great way to kick off our return to MGM Grand.”

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