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Liam Smith can beat Canelo Alvarez, says Gallagher

Canelo Alvarez

By Scott Gilfoid: Joe Gallagher, the trainer for WBO junior middleweight champion Liam Smith (23-0-1, 13 KOs), believes his fighter has a very good chance of pulling off the upset by beating former two division world champion Saul “Canelo” Alvarez (47-1-1 33 KOs) in their fight in less than three months from now on September 17 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Gallagher thinks Smith, 27, can win as long as he soundly beats Canelo in a conclusive enough way to where he can’t lose by a decision or by knocking him out. Gallagher notes that Amir Khan recently fought Canelo last May in a fight in which Khan appeared to win many of the first five rounds of the contest.

The judges gave most of those rounds to Canelo, and they had Khan trailing in the fight at the time that he was knocked out in round six.

“Liam Smith can definitely win this fight. Whether they give it to him is another matter,” said Gallagher to skysports.com. “You’ve got to win and win well to get the decision. Everybody thought Amir Khan won some of the early rounds against Canelo but the judges favored Canelo and one judge I don’t think even gave Khan a round.”

Gallagher doesn’t need to worry his head about Smith getting robbed in this fight. He’s so over-matched in this fight that I just can’t see him being able to make it the distance with the 25-year-old Canelo. Smith has fought only one decent fighter in his career and that was John Thompson last year in October 2015. Smith won the fight by a 7th round knockout. When I say decent, I mean that I think Thompson is a lower B-level fighter, bordering on being a C-level guy. Smith struggled against Thompson in the first five rounds of that fight before Thompson gassed out and was stopped in the 7th. The fact that Thompson is the best guy that Smith has fought in his career suggests that he’s been pretty well matched since he turned pro in 2008.

Let’s be real; Smith hasn’t fought any of the quality 154lb fighters like the Charlo brothers, Erislandy Lara, Demetrius Andrade, Austin Trout, Julian Williams, Erickson Lubin, Charles Hatley, Miguel Cotto, Cornelius Bundrage, Vanes Martirosyan, Jarrett Hurd, or Oscar Molina. Heck, Smith hasn’t even fought guys like John Jackson and Willie Nelson. You ask me why Smith hasn’t fought any of those guys. Why is Smith not fighting them? Instead of fighting those guys, Smith has been facing the following opposition: Predrag Radosevic, Jimmy Kelly, David Ezequiel Romero, Robert Talarek, Zoltan Sera, Jason Welborn, Mark Thompson, and Erik Ochieng. With the kinbd of match-making that’s been done for Smith since he turned pro, its understandable why he’s still unbeaten at this point. Further, Smith didn’t have to beat a good fighter from my above mentioned list for him to win the vacant WBO 154lb title. Smith just had to beat John Thompson. The World Boxing Organization made it easy for Smith to win their WBO title by having his contest against Thompson be for the WBO junior middleweight title rather than insisting that Smith fight someone good like Andrade, Trout, Julian Williams, Lubin or the Charlo brothers.

I would agree with Gallagher that his fighter Smith is probably up against it in terms of his chances of winning by a decision. I mean, I honestly don’t think Smith can win a decision even if he dominates Canelo in every round. It’s not just the Canelo-Khan fight that gives me the impression that Canelo is someone that can’t be beaten by a decision by a non-star fighter. It’s also Canelo’s fights against Erislandy Lara and Austin Trout that make me feel that he cannot lose by a decision. I don’t think Canelo did enough to get the decisions in either of those fights, but something the judges see in his style of fighting that makes them give him the benefit of the doubt. However, I don’t see Smith winding up getting jobbed in this fight because he’s unlikely to make it to the final bell. Canelo hits too hard, and Smith isn’t a mover or a defensive fighter for him to avoid getting thrashed by the hard hitting Mexican fighter. Besides that, Canelo is a large middleweight with special abilities to drain down in weight to fight at 154 and 155. Canelo is able to rehydrate into the 170s without being weight drained and weakened by the process.

If you ask another fighter to take 20+ pounds the week of a fight and put it back on overnight before the bout, they’re likely to be weakened by the process in many cases. Canelo can do it without being weakened. I haven’t heard anything about Smith having a rehydration clause in his contract to keep Canelo from rehydrating into the 170s or 180s. This means that Smith will likely be out-weighed in this fight by 10 to 15 pounds at the very least. Smith doesn’t look big after he rehydrates for his fights. My guess he comes into his junior middleweight contests no bigger than 164lbs at the most. He’s someone that could probably make 147 if he wanted to try and get an advantage against his opponents. As such, I think Smith is going to be giving away too much weight for him to have a chance of making it to the 12th round against a slugger like Canelo. The judges likely won’t have anything to do with the outcome of this contest because I don’t see it going the full 12 rounds.
“People are quick to write him off but they’re not too quick to give him praise as one of Britain’s best world champions. It’s a great opportunity for Liam to go over there and show people that,” said Gallagher.

Of course, the boxing fans, media and the bettors are writing off Smith. Why wouldn’t they? He’s over-matched against Canelo. Gallagher can deny it if he wants to, but he’s only denying reality by doing so. Yeah, Liam Smith is one of the UK’s best junior middleweights if not the best, but that’s not really saying much, is it? There aren’t a lot of really good 154lb fighters in the UK at the moment. Smith might be the best, but he has no competition at the moment. Until Kell Brook move up in weight to the junior middleweight division, it’s safe to say that Smith is No.1 in that division in the UK.

At best, I can maybe see Smith giving Canelo problems early on before the Mexican star gets his offense in gear. Canelo is one of those type of fighters that takes a while before he starts firing on all cylinders. But once Canelo is warmed up and feeling comfortable, he’s going to be like a large train going down a steep hill.

Smith is not going to be to stop him. I see Canelo blasting Smith to smithereens by the 6th or 7th rounds. But if Smith can make it the full 12 rounds, I think it would be a moral victory for him even if he loses by a lopsided 12 round decision, which is very likely if it goes to the cards.


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