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Canelo vs. Smith: Liam could surprise the Mexican, says promoter

Canelo Alvarez

By Dan Ambrose: WBO junior middleweight champion Liam Smith’s promoter Frank Warren believes he has a real chance of pulling off an upset against former WBC middleweight champion Saul “Canelo” Alvarez (47-1-1, 33 KOs) in their fight in two months from now on September 17 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Warren sees the 27-year-old Smith (23-0-1, 13 KOs) as the best of the Smith brothers (Paul, Callum and Stephen), and he feels that he is a natural 154lb fighter. He rates Smith as having better punching power than Canelo’s last opponent Amir Khan, who moved up in weight from the welterweight division to face Canelo at a catch-weight of 155lbs last May in Las Vegas.

“I firmly believe that Smith can spring a massive surprise by shocking the great Mexican in his own backyard,” said Warren to the dailystar. “He fights like a Mexican himself and I believe he can upset the odds. Liam is a very difficult fighter to beat with his body-punching.”

Warren is right. Smith is very difficult to beat with body punching. If Canelo chooses to use that path to beat Smith, it could be a very hard fight. Canelo doesn’t seem to be able to take punishment nearly as well as he dishes it out. Austin Trout hurt Canelo with a body shot in their fight in 2013, and that caused Canelo to spend the second of the contest with his back against the ropes. Canelo didn’t want to get off the ropes.

By fighting against the ropes, Canelo didn’t have to take any more body shots from Trout. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if that’s what we see in this fight on September 17. Smith needs to plan for anything in this fight, especially that of Canelo backing up to the ropes to try and fight like a turtle. If Smith can get Canelo fighting off the ropes, he needs to try and take him out with body shots, because I think that Canelo’s weakness. He’s like a bulldog when it comes to taking head shots, but he doesn’t do nearly as well when it comes to body shots.

“Now he faces Liam, who I have always said is the best of the fighting Smith brothers who have brought so much ring honor to Liverpool,” said Warren. “I like Alvarez but he does have chinks in his armor and that is something Liam can really exploit. Unlike Khan, Smith is a natural super-welterweight and, again unlike Amir, he can really punch.”

Canelo’s flaws are many. He mostly fights in spurts because he needs frequent rest breaks. He’s not able to fight hard for a full three minutes of every round. If Smith can push a fast place without getting hurt, he’ll have a chance to wear Canelo down and stop him. As I pointed out earlier, Canelo does not take body shots well. He’s been fortunate in the last three years to be fighting mainly head hunters.

Gennady Golovkin is a big body puncher. Perhaps that’s one of the reasons why Canelo hasn’t been eager to get inside the ring with the Kazakhstan fighter. Smith has a real chance to win this fight if he attacks Canelo the way that Golovkin would by going after his body.

Smith did a great job of body punching in his last fight against Predrag Radosevic last June in taking him out in just two rounds. Smith has knocked out everyone he’s faced in the last three years. His body punching is similar to his brother Callum Smith.

A win for Smith of Canelo could lead to a big money rematch. Canelo couldn’t just walk away from a loss to Smith because it would be a bad career move. There are some guys that I think Canelo would away from after losing to them, but Smith is someone that I think he would need to fight a second time if he wanted to keep his career from imploding. If Smith beats Canelo, he would have the option of fighting him a second or facing Golovkin in a big unification match.

Canelo will likely be overlooking Smith as an opponent due to him not being seen as talented as some of the other junior middleweights in the division. Smith might not be as good as guys like the Charlo brothers, Erislandy Lara or Demetrius Andrade, but styles make fights. Smith might have the perfect body punching style to defeat Canelo.

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