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First off, Canelo Alvarez faced his next opponent at the press conference earlier this week to overdo Saturday’s return against WBA super middleweight champion Callum Smith. It was hard to miss how challenging this was for the Mexican superstar.
The pun on this case was intended for Alvarez (53-1-2, 36 KOs), the reigning pound-for-pound king, who gave up no shortage of seven inches on the 6-foot-3 Smith (Jan. -0, 19 KOs) as the two stared deeply into each other’s eyes as the flashes from nearby cameras switched on and off.
30-year-old Smith, a native of England and the youngest of four professional boxers as brothers, is not to be taken lightly as an opponent. He has power, greatness, and hunger. It also fits well with Alvarez’s résumé as he is routinely difficult to measure himself despite being as influential as the sport’s greatest star.
When the photos of the height differences between the two flooded the internet just days before the fight on Saturday (20 p. . m. ET on DAZN, register now) at the Alamodome in San Antonio it was only natural to wonder if Alvarez had bitten off more than he could chew.
Alvarez, 30, is not only looking to unify the WBA title at 168 pounds after previously holding the governing body secondary belt, but the two fighters will also battle for the WBC title, vacated after David Benavidez had lost the weight for a title defense earlier this year. Still, he was far from concerned when asked how he was going to negotiate the difference in altitude.
« We knew about the size and we also knew about its qualities, but I have the necessary boxing experience and we have prepared for it, » said Alvarez on Wednesday to « Morning Kombat ».
Of course, Smith’s advantage only comes into play when he takes advantage of it by keeping Alvarez on the outside of his thrust and preventing the same type of vicious body attack that Alvarez once used to mess with Smith’s older brother Liam during his 2016 title bout 154 to quit pounds.
« We’ll have to wait and see, » Smith told CBS Sports last week. « Of course I have to try to make the most of my advantages. There’s no point having a seven-inch height advantage if I haven’t used it.
« At the highest level, a lot can change as the battle progresses. Part of it will be at close range and part will be some distance away. I just have to be prepared for anything Canelo Alvarez shows up. I have to have a good game plan and play it through at night. I believe that Dec.. . 20 I’ll wake up another champion. «
When asked if he would attack Smith’s other two brothers or any extended family members next, should he get past Callum that weekend, Alvarez let out a rare chuckle.
Can’t you get enough boxing and MMA? Get the latest in martial arts from two of the best in the business. Subscribe to Morning Kombat with Luke Thomas and Brian Campbell for the best of analysis and in-depth news, including a full preview of all the action this weekend at the Octagon and the ring below.
The reality is that Alvarez won’t be short of great opportunities after recently breaking free of exclusive deals with DAZN and former promoter Golden Boy. But none of this matters if he doesn’t get through Smith first, finding a way to get into his opponent.
« Hopefully yes, hopefully so, » Alvarez said of whether he is aiming at the body. « We’ll try to see that, and maybe it’s the best story. «
In the modern era of boxing cards, this is definitely a one fight show. But for those hardcore guys looking for the next big thing, there are still a few names to keep an eye out for. Especially Marc Castro, who competes in the bantamweight division against Luis Javier Valdes. Castro will make his pro debut after setting an amateur record of 177-7. The native Californian has a lot of hype about his name and will try to cause a sensation on the undercard.
In addition, two prospective heavyweight players meet when Frank Sanchez competes against Julian Fernandez. Sanchez, a 28 year old from Cuba, has been an absolute force in his career so far with 12 knockout wins in 16 professional fights. He is undefeated in all these fights and faces a permanent opponent in Fernandez who only suffered the second loss of his career in September 2019.
It is thanks to Alvarez ‘size that he can jump back and forth between three weight classes from 160 to 175 pounds so effortlessly and still has both his strength and instinct as a finisher. But even though Alvarez was the smaller man in recent championships against the much bigger Super Middleweight Rocky Fielding and Sergey Kovalev light heavyweight, he played the role of the stalking power puncher in search of the target.
Alvarez can box his way to victory as well, should he of course need it, which he did in 2019 against an also much bigger Daniel Jacobs in the unification middleweight division. Even so, there is reason to believe that he will try to overpower Smith in this fight and do so slowly.
While it is easy to say that Smith’s thrust will potentially be the main blow in this fight for him to control range and prevent Alvarez from getting close enough to aim at his body, none of this becomes significant be if he doesn’t give Alvarez a reason to hesitate.
This is where the effectiveness of Smith’s right hand becomes critical, especially at the beginning of the fight. Making a decision against Alvarez has long proven difficult as the judges favored his clean counterattack in close fights. So the first half of the fight was supposed to show if Smith could actually play the role of the taller man and make Alvarez pay for crossing the imaginary line in front of him.
Should Smith prove unable to do so, a late stoppage (particularly due to heavy hooks on the chest to slow him down) seems almost inevitable.
Smith is tall, tough, and hungry, but it’s largely up to him how much risk he takes to actually try to win instead of hanging around hoping for the best.
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Canelo Álvarez, Callum Smith, World Boxing Association, DAZN
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