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Callum Smith accepts Canelo Alvarez’s challenge

Canelo Alvarez

By Tim Royner: Callum Smith (25-0, 18 KOs) says he’s ready to defend his WBA Super World super middleweight title against Saul Canelo Alvarez in September if the Golden Boy Promotions star is serious about wanting to fight him. IBF/WBA/WBC middleweight champion Canelo (52-1-2, 35 KOs) made it clear after his victory over IBF 160-pound champion Daniel Jacobs last Saturday night that he only wants to fight world champions at this point in his career, meaning he wants to face WBO middleweight champion Demetrius Andrade to unify the 160-pound division, Callum Smith at 168 or WBO light heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev.

Oddly enough, Canelo didn’t even mention former unified IBF/WBA/WBO middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin’s name at the post-fight news conference last Saturday night. When Canelo was asked immediately after the Jacobs fight if wanted to face GGG in a trilogy, he said he’s not interested in that fight, and preferred to fight world champions. Canelo did leave the door open for a third fight with Golovkin, but only if that’s the fight that his boxing fans want to see from him.

Poor Golovkin, it looks like he’s going to be left out in the cold by Canelo now.

Callum Smith, 28, will be fighting on June 1 on DAZN on the undercard of Anthony Joshua vs. Andy Ruiz Jr. at Madison Square Garden in New York. Smith’s manager/trainer Joe Gallagher, and he like the idea of the Canelo-Smith fight taking place in Liverpool, England at Anfield. Canelo’s promoter Eric Gomez of Golden Boy Promotions mentioned the idea of Canelo facing Callum Smith at Wembley Stadium in London, England. That might not be a doable location. Callum isn’t from London, and he might not be popular enough in that area to attract a big crowd for a fight with Canelo. Anfield Stadium in Liverpool seats 54,000. That’s not as big as Wembley Stadium, but it’s a venue that would have a better chance of selling out. It might be a mistake if Matchroom Boxing promoter Eddie Hearn books Wembley Stadium for the Canelo vs. Smith fight, and then it fails to sellout.

For his next match in September, Canelo would like to fight for the last middleweight title not in his possession, but the WBO champion Demetrius Andrade has a fight scheduled on June 29 against Maciej Sulecki. Andrade will likely take punishment in that fight, and he might even lose. The winner of the Andrade vs. Sulecki fight won’t be able to get back into the ring in September to fight Canelo. That’ll be too early. Canelo will have to put off fighting for the WBO 160-pound title until either December or in May of next year. It’s not the end of the world for Canelo. He can still move up to 168 and challenge Callum Smith for his WBA Super World title if he’s willing to take a big risk.

Gallagher said this on his social media about wanting Canelo’s promoters at Golden Boy to phone him so that they can start putting together the fight between Callum Smith and Alvarez:

“@makeawar @Micheladatime you have my number ☎️ if ur serious @Canelo v @CallumSmith23 #Wembley.”

Canelo, 28, had an easy time in moving up to super middleweight last December in destroying WBA ‘regular’ 168-pound champion Rocky Fielding in three rounds. That was Canelo’s first fight in the super middleweight division, and he might be thinking all the fights are going to be easy in that weight class. Fielding offered up no competition for Canelo whatsoever in this short fight. It’s not all that unexpected that Canelo is now targeting Callum Smith for his WBA super middleweight title. Smith might be the best fighter at 168 right now following his victory over George Groves in the final of the World Boxing Super Series 168-lb tournament last September in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

Groves looked like he was fighting with just one arm in that fight. He was coming off of a bad shoulder injury that required surgery in his previous fight against Chris Eubank Jr. in February 2018. Groves was only able to his left arm to hold out in front of him to try and keep Smith from getting close. Groves wasn’t throwing punches with his left. Given how bad Groves looked in that fight, there’s still a big question mark over the head of Callum about how good he is. David Benavidez might be the true best fighter in the super middleweight division today. You could throw in Dmitry Bivol’s name as well into the equation. He’s volunteered to drop down to 168 to challenge Callum for his title, but his promoter Eddie Hearn has shown zero interest in wanting to make the Smith vs. Bivol fight. Callum is a good fighter, but he’s still unproven at this point. Groves looked like he was only at 50% for the fight against Smith last September. It wasn’t surprising that Groves retired after the fight. He wouldn’t have done that if his left shoulder was still 100%.

”It was interesting that they put Callum Smith’s name into the hat,” Gallagher told Sky Sports. “I was surprised that they wanted to,” Gallagher said to ”I know they want to make history and they dipped their toes in at 168 before when they fought Rocky Fielding. They must be fancying moving up again, but that’s music to our ears. We’d welcome ‘Canelo’ Alvarez moving up and fighting Callum Smith.”

Golden Boy wants Canelo vs. Callum to take place at Wembley Stadium, but by now they’ve likely been told by Hearn that wouldn’t be a good idea. It won’t sell out if the fight is staged there. The only location the Canelo-Smith fight has any chance of selling out in the UK is if it takes place in Liverpool.

It’s not in DAZN’s best interest to put on a Canelo vs. Callum Smith fight from the UK. The fight would need to take place too early in the day in the U.S, and that would result in fewer subscribers. Callum could come to the U.S and fight Canelo, but the fight likely wouldn’t sellout due to Smith being an unknown fighter. The U.S casual boxing fans have never seen or heard of Callum Smith before. Hearn has Smith fighting on the undercard of Anthony Joshua vs. Andy Ruiz Jr. on June 1 at Madison Square Garden in New York. However, Smith’s opponent is expected to be 35-year-old Hassan N’Dam, who has never fought at super middleweight before, and was recently stopped in the seventh round by Ryota Murata. Additionally, N’Dam is a poor opponent. He’s from France, not the U.S. That fight will slip under the radar of the casual boxing fans in the States, and likely be totally ignored by them. As it is, the main event between Joshua and the pudgy Ruiz Jr. likely won’t interest U.S fans either. Hearn is counting on the U.S fans rallying behind Ruiz Jr., who they’ve never heard of before, to cheer him to victory against Joshua, another fighter they’ve never heard of. This fight is likely going to be ignored by fans. It’s the wrong opponent for Joshua. Hearn doesn’t understand that now, but he will afterwards when he finds out how few fans subscribed to see the Joshua-Ruiz Jr. fight.

Billy Joe Saunders has issued a challenge to Canelo as well. Saunders is fighting Shefat Isufi for the vacant WBO super middleweight title on May 18th. If Saunders wins the WBO strap, he can use that to lure Canelo to fight him. Given some of the negative comments from the Golden Boy Promotions brass following Saunders’ one-sided 12 round unanimous decision victory over David Lemieux in December 2017, it’s highly unlikely Canelo will agree to face Saunders in a unification fight in September. Callum is the guy that Canelo and Golden Boy seem to want. DAZN could nix that idea though.

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