Canelo Alvarez faces Liam Smith at AT&T Stadium on 9/17
By Dan Ambrose As already reported by boxing news 24, Saul “Canelo” Alvarez will be taking his September 17 fight against WBO junior middleweight champion Liam Smith to the giant 90,000 seat AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. This is a huge venue for a fight of this magnitude because the British fighter Smith is not well known in Texas nor is he well known in U.S at all, period.
It would seem that Golden Boy Promotions has made a blunder by sticking this fight in such a giant stadium. Canelo vs. Smith would be better for a smaller 5,000 seat stadium, because it’s a fight that likely won’t resonate with the boxing public.
Canelo is taking a lot of abuse from fans for choosing to move down in weight to fight at 154 against a fighter that many boxing fans see as the weakest by far of the junior middleweight belt holders in Liam Smith. One of the reasons why Golden Boy didn’t want Canelo to fight Gennady Golovkin right now was for the 170+ pound Canelo to move slowly into fighting at 160. With Canelo going down to fight at 154, it doesn’t make sense because he’s going ub the opposite direction.
What’s even more interesting is that the Canelo-Smith fight will be sold on HBO pay-per-view. Canelo certainly has a fan base, but the opponent is all wrong to ask the fans to purchase this fight on PPV. The timing of the PPV fight is wrong as well, as it comes just as Canelo vacated his WBC middleweight title rather than face his #1 WBC mandatory challenger Gennady “GGG” Golovkin. That ducking move could turn off a lot of boxing fans because many of them saw this as a challenge that Canelo had to take for him to show that he was the real thing in the sport.
The fact that Canelo vacated his WBC belt by basically giving it to Golovkin rather than fighting him, it looked bad in the eyes of a lot of fans. Perhaps it won’t hurt Canelo in lost PPV sales. My guess is it will hurt him. It’s just bad timing for Canelo to put his next on PPV directly after the decision not to fight Golovkin and to give up his WBC title.
Putting Canelo-Smith in a large stadium just does not add up, even if Canelo still held the WBC title and hadn’t veered around the GGG fight. How do you get casual boxing fans in Texas to want to see Canelo fight a guy that has never fought in the United States before? Liam Smith has never fought in the U.S before. If you were to ask casual boxing fans if they’ve heard of Smith, my guess is almost none of them would.
There will be a two-city press tour beginning today with them starting off in Arlington, Texas at AT&T Stadium. The second part of the press tour will be on July 20 in London, England. A press tour makes all the sense in the world, especially given that Canelo is fighting the little known Liam Smith. However, a limited press tour like this one will likely do very little to attract interest in this fight.
For a press tour to help draw attention to a fight like this with Canelo facing an obscure fighter, he would need to hit at least 11 major cities in the U.S, since the fight is taking place in America and not in the U.K. Instead of having the press tour only visit one U.S city, Canelo-Smith should be visiting Dallas, Austin, Houston, Los Angeles, San Diego, San Jose, California, San Francisco, New York, Atlantic City and Detroit.
“Texas loves Canelo, and Canelo loves Texas so it was a no-brainer to have this fight at AT&T Stadium,” said Oscar De La Hoya of Golden Boy. “Texas is like Canelo’s second home, and he has stated that he wants to fight in Texas once a year for his fans. My friend Jerry Jones extended the invitation to Canelo to fight at AT&T Stadium so it was an easy decision for us.”
I think it’s a big mistake to have Canelo-Smith fight take place at AT&T Stadium. I wouldn’t make that move if my fighter had just swerved around Gennady Golovkin. I also wouldn’t put a fight like this in a giant stadium given Smith not being a household name in the U.S. Canelo vs. the Charlo brothers, Daniel Jacobs, Golovkin or Demetrius Andrade would make sense for it to take place at AT&T Stadium, because those are fighters that are all well known in the United States.
Canelo vs. Austin Trout would work at AT&T Stadium, because Trout fought him to a virtual standstill in their fight in Texas back in 2013. The fight was scored overwhelmingly for Canelo in him winning a 12 round decision, but it was basically a draw or a slight win for Canelo. I had Trout beating Canelo in that fight. A rematch between them in Texas would be a lot better than Canelo fighting Liam Smith, a fighter that Texans and Mexican fans from nearby Mexico likely will have never heard of.