Verona, New York - On Saturday night, WBO light heavyweight champion Joe Smith (28-3, 23 KOs) made the first defense of his title with a ninth round stoppage of Steve Geffrard (16-3, 12 KOs).

Geffrard took the fight on very late notice - after original opponent Callum Johnson tested positive for COVID-19. 

After chopping away round after round, Smith finally closed the show in the ninth. He unloaded a barrage of punches when the round began to drop Geffrard - with the challenger's corner deciding to stop the fight.

Smith is looking for the biggest fights possible - either with IBF/WBC light heavyweight champion Artur Beterbiev or a defense against Mexican superstar Saul 'Canelo' Alvarez.

Canelo, who holds the undisputed crown at the super middleweight limit of 168-pounds, may eventually return to light heavyweight.

In 2019, Canelo moved up to 175-pounds and knocked out Sergey Kovalev for the WBO title. He would then vacate the belt and dropped down to 168.

Smith would capture the vacant belt last year - when he won a tough twelve round decision over Maxim Vlasov.

Top Rank's CEO Bob Arum, who co-promotes Smith, says Canelo will ultimately be the decider on who he picks for his next ring return, which is being targeted for Cinco De Mayo weekend in May.

"The ball is in Canelo's court," said Arum.

"Canelo is the biggest attraction in boxing now, he's a tremendous talent and a tremendous fighter and he more or less picks his opponents. He also tries to get the best guys.

"So he could fight Beterbiev, he could fight Smith, but it's up to Canelo and I think he's looking to do a fight in May."