Callum Johnson has tested positive for COVID-19, promoter Frank Warren has confirmed.
Johnson was supposed to challenge WBO Light Heavyweight champion Joe Smith Jr. in Top Rank & ESPN’s fight card on January 15. Top Rank is now looking for a late replacement. However, the event remains under clouds for now.
Warren told BBC Sports that 37 years old Johnson has been working hard for this title fight, they may want to reschedule the fight in late spring. This would have been the second world title shot for Johnson, who earlier lost to IBF 175 lbs titleholder Artur Beterbeiv. That remains his only loss in his professional career so far.
Since that bout in October 2018, “The One” has racked up three wins over Sean Monaghan(3rd round TKO), Emil Markic(2nd round TKO) and Server Emurlaev(majority decision). Johnson has recently expressed that he is more ready for the world title shot as compared to his fight against Beterbeiv.
For Joe Smith Jr., this is the third time that his bout is getting affected due to COVID-19. Smith was supposed to fight Maxim Vlasov in February 2021, but it had to be rescheduled to April after Vlasov tested positive for the virus. Later, Smith contracted the virus before his scheduled title defence against Umar Salamov. The bout had to be cancelled altogether as Smith had to be hospitalized during his battle with coronavirus.
Umar Salamov, instead of waiting for Smith, went on to challenge and lose to WVA Light Heavyweight champion Dmitry Bivol. Johnson then entered as the first challenger for Smith. It remains unclear against whom and when will Smith’s first defence come.
Frank Warren has mentioned that Anthony Yarde is probably next in line to face Smith for the title. “If Callum doesn’t get his shot then Anthony Yarde is next,” he said. “I’d love to do Joe Smith v Anthony Yarde in the UK. The WBO say there is a mandatory due and it’s going to be Yarde. He is the number one.”