Canelo Alvarez vs. Callum Smith – preview & prediction
By Brad Slotnick: Canelo Alvarez is returning to the ring tonight after a year of inactivity to challenge Callum Smith for his WBA super-middleweight title on DAZN.
The Ring Magazine and vacant WBC titles will also be on the line for the Canelo vs. Smith fight at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas. The fight action starts at 8:00 pm. ET live on DAZN.
Canelo could walk into something big if he attempts to pressure Smith the way he did Gennadiy Golovkin Danny Jacobs. If Canelo gets careless, he could pay a heavy price against Callum just as George Groves did,
Canelo (53-1-2, 36 KOs) is the favorite, but he’ untested at 168, as his two prior fights in this weight class came against Rocky Fielding and Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. Alvarez put his toe into the water of the 168-lb division but didn’t get his feet wet due to the two mediocre opponents he faced.
Tonight’s fight for Canelo is his first real contest since his life and death battle against Gennadiy Golovkin in 2018, which a lot of people think the Mexican star lost. Canelo has fought three times since then, beating Fielding, Daniel Jacobs, and Sergey Kovalev.
Canelo had many problems with Callum’s brother Liam Smith in 2016, struggling in the early rounds before taking him out in the ninth. The 6’4″ Callum is much better and can do many more things than his smaller brother Liam. Canelo won after Liam wore down from the shots, but it was competitive.
Canelo was hit a lot in the fight and didn’t completely outclass him in a way that boxing fans thought he would.
Smith feels strong
“Callum’s WBA super-middleweight title will be on the one, the vacant WBC title will be on the line,” said Chris Mannix to DAZN.
“To unify the division is something I’ve always wanted to do as well,” said Callum Smith. “This fight ticks all the boxes. It’s something I’m pleased about [the WBC title being on the line].
“It’s a long time coming. I’ve had a lot of WBC title fights, but finally fighting for the full world title. So to finally get that cemented, which made the fight a little bit bigger if that was possible.
“I feel good, I feel strong, and I’m coming from a really good place. I’ve always delivered when I’ve needed to be, and there’s never been a bigger stage and bigger performance than to deliver it now. I need to be at my best to beat Canelo Alvarez,” said Smith.
“You’re a naturally big super middleweight, so you’re often looking down on your opponents,” said Mannix. “But I think the social media buzz that got generated off your first picture together with Canelo where it didn’t look like you were close to the same weight classes in that picture.
“What did you think standing next to him for the first time this week?”
“I kind of know his height, and I wasn’t expecting a 6’2″ version of Canelo,” said Callum. “I knew he was short, but seeing him in person is always nice.”
“Canelo is roughly the size of John Ryder height-wise. Did it feel comparable than that?” said Mannix.
“Possibly, I can’t remember too much about the Ryder head to head, but he was short,” said Callum. “He’s a bit of a lumpy. It’s not his size that I need to worry about. It’s his ability,” said Callum about his concerns for the Canelo fight.
Smith is the natural 168-lb fighter with superior power and a better engine than Canelo. If Canelo gasses out against Smith as he did against Golovkin and Jacobs, he could go to sleep.
‘Mundo’ Smith has a great game plan
“That’s what’s got him where he is. He’s a very good boxer, and he’s smart. I’m sure he’s got a game plan to take away my height advantages,” said Smith. “But I’ve got a game plan to use my strengths for Canelo to take away his game plan.
“It’s going to be exciting. And it’s good for boxing, and it’s the fight that I’ve been calling for and the fight I’ve finally got. It’s time to deliver on the big stage,” said Smith.
“What is that game plan? What is the key to all of this?” said Mannix. “Canelo is going to try and get on the inside. What is the key to you?”
“I’ve got to use my strengths to take away Canelo’s strengths,” Smith said. “I can’t let Canelo dictate the fight and position me where he wants to get his best shots off.
“I’ve got to use my size and physical attributes, use my boxing brain, and known when to throw and not to throw.
He’s going to try and capitalize on every sloppy shot that I throw. He’s going to try and make me pay for everything I do throw.
I can’t just go in there and run away from him because I’m taller than him.
“He is 160, and I am 168. I’ve got to show him that I am genuine 168 as well. I’ve got to make him feel my power early on,” said Smith about his plans for Alvarez.
“It’s an interesting fight, and one I’m looking forward to. It could go in many ways. He’s shown he can fight off the front foot and the back foot. I’ve shown I can do both as well,” said Smith.
It sounds like Smith will mix things up a bit, box, and not run around the ring like Sergey Kovalev did against Alvarez.
Smith realizes that he fight afraid, and he’s got to be able to put power into his shots if he’s to win.
Callum won’t make mistakes Fielding and Kovalev did
“You are not Rocky Fielding, and you are not Sergey Kovalev, but can you watch both of those fights on how those guys didn’t succeed with Canelo? In a way, what not to do with Canelo,” said Mannix.
“I’m not those fighters,” said Callum Smith. “I know Rocky had the size, but not the ability that I got. Kovalev is a bigger man, but not as big as me.
“He’s a very good fighter, but he was 37 and past his prime years. I’m young and in my prime. I’ve got the size and ability to go along with it.
“Although Kovalev boxed well early on, he kind of faded, and he got caught with a big shot. Fair play to Canelo. In the Fielding fight, he gave up too much ground and let Canelo let his best shots go.
“That was what not to do against Canelo Alvarez. I’ve got to tactically get it right and not dance for 12 rounds against Canelo. I’ve got to work on certain shots I’ve had success with. I think our styles should gel pretty well,” said Smith.
It’s easy for Smith not to make the bumbling mistakes that Fielding and Kovalev. The best way for Smith not to follow in the failed footsteps of Kovalev and Fielding is by NOT doing these things:
- Throwing weak jabs
- Backing up against the ropes
- Fighting stationery
- Letting Canelo get inside without tying him up
Smith to take chances against Canelo
“I believe you do,” said Smith when asked if he has to take chances against Canelo. “At this level, you’ve got to take chances. I’m not going to come in and jab and dance for 12 rounds and beat Canelo Alvarez.
“You’ve got to take chances at the highest level. You’ve got to know when to throw and when not to throw. He’s going to be ready to capitalize on any mistakes that I make him pay for any mistakes he makes.
“It’s going to be a bit of a chess match about who can get their game plan off better, but that’s the part I’m looking forward to We all know how good Canelo Alvarez is. But we’ll see how good I am.
“I’d be a fool not to use my size advantage, and crouch down and go head-to-head from the first bell and basically play into Canelo’s hands,” said Smith.
“There are times where I’m going to go there and fight while I am there, but to have the full fight there would be no point being the size that I am. That’s the fight that I don’t want.
“I’m not shying away from that. I believe the fight will go there at times. I’ve got to do what I’m good at and stop him from doing what he’s good at.
“I’m glad I can fight without restrictions and not being told what I can or can’t do,” said Smith about the absence of a rehydration clause for the Canelo fight.
If Smith to have any shot of winning tonight, he must fight with passion and remember that the judges aren’t going to give him the decision if he plays it safe.
This writer doesn’t like the way Callum is talking, particularly with the way he’s talking about wanting to make the fight a chess match. It sounds like Smith is going to fight timidly and run around the ring all night. If you give ground to Canelo, it’s only a matter of time before he knocks you out, and that’s what we’ll see tonight.
Canelo wins by a sixth-round knockout over a frightened Callum.
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