We have a fight. Some feared that Canelo Alvarez would not make the light-middleweight limit for tomorrow’s bout against Liam Smith at Texas’s AT & T Stadium yet the Mexican hit the scales at 154lbs exactly. WBO title-holder Smith, who is the defending champion despite Alvarez appearing on the left of too many of the promotional posters, hit the same poundage.
Much was made of Alvarez’s epic climb down from 160lbs going into this one, but he has been operating at the Canelo-weight of 155 in recent times so, in truth, only had to trim an extra pound from his frame. However, any fighter who is weak at the weight will tell you that they would love a pound to play with, some of them have to try to towel and sweat out ounces just to hit the magical figure.
Still, the good big man beats the good little man, right? Last Saturday this adage was apparent as Kell Brook lost his unbeaten record despite a valiant performance against middleweight sensation Gennady ‘GGG’ Golovkin. Brook was the underdog going into the fight—the jump up in weight from 147-to-160 pounds and Golovkin’s fearsome reputation as one of boxing’s hardest punchers providing the rationale.
After the first bell sounded, Golovkin quickly got down to business, hunting down his prey and wobbling the challenger with his trademark power. Early signs of distress from Brook pointed towards the bookmakers being proved correct, but with the raucous crowd behind him Brook regained his composure and rallied through the second stanza.
With fellow former boxer and long-time friend Prince Naseem Hamed (also the product of the Ingle gymnasium) shouting encouragement from ringside, Brook did his best to match fire with fire and used elusive movement to frustrate the champion. However, the damage suffered to Brook’s right eye in the second round (which later proved to be a broken eye socket) meant time was ticking away for Brook as he found it increasingly hard to evade Golovkin’s attacks.
Brook’s dream of moving up in weight to become the middleweight champion of the world (just as his boxing idol Sugar Ray Robinson had done before him) was to come to an end in the fifth round after his trainer Dominic Ingle threw in the towel following a volley of unanswered shots.
The fact that the smaller Brook was able to land on Golovkin’s chin frequency is a testament Brook’s calibre; it may also spur on Alvarez’s team to come to the negotiating table with serious intent and make the blockbuster fight boxing is craving. That scenario could be stopped in its tracks should the Mexican icon fail to get through his test tonight against Smith.
Like Brook, Smith enters the fight as the underdog but unlike his fellow countrymen he gives up no advantage in physical stature. The man from Liverpool is a fully-fledged light-middle, the taller of the two and brings to the table an unbeaten record of (23-0-1, 13 KO).
Could Smith prevail where Brook came up short? While size shouldn’t play a factor in the outcome, Alvarez’s experience may do. The Mexican has just one single blemish on his record courtesy of Floyd Mayweather Jr. in a career that includes 47 victories over fighters such as Shane Mosley, Erislandy Lara and Miguel Cotto.
This isn’t the Mexican’s first rodeo either. Canelo is used to performing on the big stage; something his opponent is yet to experience. Stylistically the fighters match up well; Smith is a come forward fighter who tucks up well and goes well to the body effectively.
Canelo, similarly, loves a tear up and can throw dazzling combinations to the head and body. I perceive Canelo to be the quicker and stronger of the two fighters, and with experience on his side, I can see why the Canelo team favours their charge. If Smith can weather the storm, and assuming he doesn’t shrink under the bright lights (of which he’s showed no signs of doing yet,) then we should be in for one hell of a fight.
Canelo does take time off during the rounds too, of which many point to stamina issues at the weight as the explanation, and if Smith is still in contention in the mid-to-late rounds then he may come on strong and be able to outwork the redheaded Mexican. It’s going to be hard for Smith to get a decision over in America, but he certainly has the tools to make it a highly entertaining fight.
My prediction is that Canelo comes out victorious and takes Smith’s WBO strap. I think his speed will see him pip Smith to the punch, and his power will shine through in the later rounds. Canelo to win by late stoppage