It was a case of “Let’s go inside”, an inversion of the usual idiom for a fight, at Texas’s AT&T venue tonight as WBO light-middleweight titlist Liam Smith and Saul Alvarez tangled for the Liverpudlian’s belt.
It was fitting that these two single-minded fighters met in the Lone Star State at the home of the Dallas Cowboys in a fight that didn’t feature a pair of angels, but instead pitched together two men with a point or two to prove.
Smith wanted to prove that he is the real deal at 154lbs; Alvarez briefly hit the scales at that poundage to move away from the frankly ludicrous 155lbs Canelo-weight that he has operated, and handicapped, in during recent times. Both men hit 154lbs on the scales during Friday’s weight-in yet the challenger looked the far bigger man in the ring.
However, it has been a long career for Alvarez; he is a little older, wiser and was handed a prime time Mexican Holiday slot by promoter Oscar De La Hoya, who has been a father figure to his charge, in a bid to underline his own top table credentials following middleweight Champion Gennady Golovkin’s dismantling of IBF welterweight holder Kell Brook last week.
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A nomad when it comes to his poundage, “Canelo” endured careless whispers about his weight coming in. Would he hit the light-middleweight limit and, if he did, what would be left of him?
As for Smith, he could have opted for a few more easier affairs, but it was clear that ambition burned brightly in him despite a quiet opening round. His faith in his pre-fight claims that he would come on strong late evidenced by an energy-saving early few stanzas.
One of four brothers, a huge source of their mother’s pride, the Liverpudlian visitor kept it tight early and seemed to be praying for time as he sought to reach the high ground of the late-to-middle rounds in order to see if he could dredge Alvarez’s reserves of strength away from him.
A shot made Alvarez move a fast glove up in defence, it appeared that his own glove nicked the Mexican’s left eye in round two, a trickle of blood leaked from the slit. It wasn’t an amazing round, however Smith must have been feeling good after staying in the stanza, the fight and remaining on course for the deeper waters.
Every fighter waits for that day when things come their way and opportunity knocks; Alvarez, though, has conquered the world more than once so has the patience that success brings, biding his time and working away as he aimed for yet another title belt.