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Liam Smith to force Canelo to fight at fast pace

By Scott Gilfoid: WBO junior middleweight champion Liam “Beefy” Smith (23-0-1, 13 KOs) believes that Saul “Canelo” Alvarez (47-1-1, 33 KOs) will struggle to get down to 154 for their fight on September 17. Smith says the 25-year-old Canelo will have problems in the second half of the fight in losing that extra pound. It’s possible that Smith is correct about that, but I’m not sure that he’s going to be able to take advantage of that.

Smith plans on forcing Canelo to fight at a fast pace for three minutes of every round rather than letting him have frequent rest breaks. Canelo likes to fight in bursts. He rests in between those bursts either in the center of the ring or against the ropes. Canelo tends to take a lot of rest breaks.

Canelo has a good jab and this enables him to keep his opponents off of him when he’s taking his breathers. Even when Canelo is resting, he’s still capable of punching with good power.

“Amir moved and was always the smaller guy. He had to do that to stay out of the way,” Smith said to IFL TV about Khan’s fight against the heavier Canelo last May. “I’m confident I can stay in the pocket with him. I’m going there to do what I do. I’m not changing my style for no one. If it doesn’t work, then I’ll adjust to things in the fight. I’m going there to stop Canelo. We’re going to have an absolute war. I think I might stop him down the stretch. I think 154 might hurt him. I think there’s a reason he’s doing 155. The last couple of times he had the middleweight title on the line, but he beat [Erislandy] Lara, the WBA [junior middleweight] champion at 155. I don’t understand why he did that. He fought [James] Kirkland at 155 with no title on the line. I just think the last pound hurts him. He hasn’t been under 154 since [Floyd] Mayweather. I think Mayweather could have stopped him if he had stepped it up. He was blowing. Spit was coming out of his mouth. He fights in bursts. I’m going to make him fight when he doesn’t want to fight. Hopefully, it’ll tell later on down the stretch. He’ll feel it,” said Smith.

A lot of fighters say they’re going to force Canelo to fight at a fast pace, but very few actually do that. Floyd Mayweather Jr. forced Canelo to fight at a fast pace in rounds one through nine, and he had him tired and on the verge of being knocked out at one point in round seven. Mayweather let off the gas in round nine after getting hit hard by a right hand from Canelo. The remainder of the fight, Mayweather was on his bike and this emboldened Canelo to go on the attack in the last three rounds. The fight would have been more one-sided than it was if Mayweather had continued to force Canelo to fight hard.

I don’t know that Smith is going to be able to force Canelo to fight hard. If Smith can handle the shots that Canelo hits him with, then I think he can possibly tire him with a fast pace. But in looking at Smith’s past fights, he hasn’t shown the ability to stand in there with his opponents to fight in a fast pace manner. Smith is more of a type of fighter that fights in spurts as well. He’s not going to beat Canelo fighting the way he did against John Thompson or Jimmy Kelly. Smith will need to change his fighting style completely for him to have success against Canelo.

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