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Saturday, February 13th LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHT WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP: JOE SMITH JR. VS. MAXIM VLASOV – FEB. 13 – ESPN

LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHT WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP: JOE SMITH JR. VS. MAXIM VLASOV – FEB. 13 – ESPN

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Smith (26-3, 21 KOs) is best known for sending living legend Bernard Hopkins through the ropes and into retirement in 2016, but a world title has thus far proven elusive. He received a shot at the WBA light heavyweight world title in March 2019 and nearly knocked out Dmitry Bivol in the 10th round, but Bivol hung on to win a unanimous decision. Smith rampaged in 2020, dominating Jesse Hart over 10 rounds and knocking out former world champion Eleider Alvarez in an August title eliminator. Those victories propelled Smith to the WBO No. 1 ranking and a second crack at world title glory. Vlasov (45-3, 26 KOs), a 15-year-pro, has been a world-level operator at super middleweight, light heavyweight and cruiserweight. He moved down to light heavyweight in early 2019 and soon joined the ranks of the top contenders. In a six-month span, Vlasov stopped Omar Garcia in four rounds, topped longtime contender Isaac Chilemba by unanimous decision to avenge a 2011 defeat, and shut out the previously undefeated Emmanuel Martey over 10 rounds.

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Saturday, February 20th SUPER FEATHERWEIGHT WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP: MIGUEL BERCHELT VS. OSCAR VALDEZ – FEB. 20 – ESPN

SUPER FEATHERWEIGHT WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP: MIGUEL BERCHELT VS. OSCAR VALDEZ – FEB. 20 – ESPN

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Berchelt (38-1, 34 KOs) has held the WBC super featherweight title since January 2017, when he knocked out Francisco Vargas in the 11th round. His last five title defenses have ended via the quick route, including a ninth-round TKO over Miguel Roman, a sixth-round TKO over Vargas in their May 2019 rematch, and a fourth-round knockout over former world champion Jason Sosa. He fought last June in a non-title bout and knocked out Eleazar Valenzuela in six one-sided rounds. Valdez (28-0, 22 KOs) is a two-time Mexican Olympian who vacated the WBO featherweight world title last year after six title defenses, which included scintillating 12-round barnburners against the likes of Scott Quigg, Genesis Servania and Miguel Marriaga. He suffered a severely broken jaw against Quigg in March 2018, returned 11 months later, and has since won four consecutive bouts. Since moving up to 130 pounds, Valdez has scored stoppage wins over Adam Lopez and Jayson Velez.

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