Callum Smith faces the biggest test of his professional career on December 19 when he defends his WBA Super and Ring Magazine super-middleweight championships against pound-for-pound superstar Canelo Alvarez in the United States – can the Liverpudlian shock the boxing world and return home with the belts or will Alvarez add another world title win to his long list of accomplishments?
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Canelo Alvarez v Callum Smith Betting Tips & Predictions
In the interests of transparency I am a Smith fan and I desperately hope that he can pull off what would be a monumental upset. That being said, there is simply no way that I can go against Canelo here – he will prove once again why he is the pound-for-pound number one fighter on the planet.
Smith may be a world champion, but he falls under that horrible category titled “but who has he beat?” The only truly notable name on his record is George Groves and let’s be brutally honest here, ‘Saint’ George was a long way past his prime when the two men shared the ring. That begs the question, “just how good is Smith?” The answer is very, very good, but there is nothing I have seen from him so far that suggests he can take out Canelo here.
The Liverpudlian is a huge super-middleweight and he will tower over Canelo in this one, and that will give the multiple-weight world champion a few problems to work out early one. But we have seen this time and time again, Canelo takes a couple of rounds to work out how to solve a problem, he then solves it and takes over the fight. Look at the Amir Khan fight – he struggled with Khan’s speed and movement for a few rounds but once he worked him out it was game over the Bolton fighter found himself flat out on the canvas. Does the same date await Smith though?
I believe it does, although he will last longer than Khan. Canelo is clearly the more skilled of these two fighters and he is a good couple of levels above Smith at this time. He is also a spiteful puncher who lands telling combinations to wear down and brutalise his opponent, and that will be key here. Smith will have his moments of joy, but as the rounds tick away Canelo will start to take control of the contest and pick apart the Liverpudlian. Eventually the punishment will become too much for the WBA champion and the referee will have no choice but to step in and wave it off, unless Smith’s corner save their man from himself before that.
Road To Canelo Alvarez v Callum Smith
This is the fight that Callum Smith has been waiting his whole life for. The 30-year-old Liverpudlian enjoyed a rapid rise up the ranks after debuting in November 2012 and claimed his first notable title in November 2015 when he took out domestic rival Rocky Fielding in less than three minutes. It was a sensational performance that captured plenty of attention and with all eyes on him he reeled off four more wins to make himself a serious contender for the World Boxing Super Series, a one-year long tournament to determine the best super-middleweight fighter on the planet.
As expected Smith made it all the way through to the final and awaiting him in Saudi Arabia was domestic rival George Groves, who had finally climbed to the mountain top in the WBA rankings back in 2017 and had bested Chris Eubank Jr over 12 rounds earlier in the year. Groves was easily Smith’s biggest challenge to date and it was time for him to prove that he could live up to the hype – he did just that. A left-hook hurt ‘Saint’ George in the seventh and although he hung on he could not overcome a body shot that forced him to his knees, ending the contest.
Immediately all of the talk was about the potential for some blockbuster fights for Britain’s newest world champion, but Smith instead had to settle for a couple of routine defences in 2019 in the hope that 2020 would bring about big-money bouts. Events of this year put those plans on hold for several months, but not long after Canelo Alvarez completed his divorce from Golden Boy Promotions it was confirmed that the Mexican superstar would be the man to give Smith the huge fight he craved.
Alvarez, of course, has established himself as a modern-day great and boasts an impressive record of 53-1-2 over a 15-year span. During his rise up the ladder Canelo was able to dispatch a couple of British talents in Matthew Hatton and Ryan Rhodes, but it was not until he got the better of Shane Mosley that he really started to gain the attention of more than just the hardcore boxing audience. Just 18 months later he would step into the ring with Floyd Mayweather Jr and although he came up short on the night, losing via majority decision, his stock had never been higher.
James Kirkland and Miguel Cotto was dispatched as he got back on track and he then ruthlessly dispatched Amir Khan in six rounds to maintain his win streak. It would take him nine rounds to see off Liam Smith, the brother of December opponent Callum, in September 2016, and by this point fans were screaming for a showdown with Gennady Golovkin to determine the pound-for-pound number one fighter on the planet. The first meeting, in September 2017, resulted in a controversial draw, but one year later a winner was declared when the judges awarded Canelo a majority decision win in the rematch.
Another British talent fell a handful of months later when Fielding, who was destroyed inside a round by Smith, lasted no more than three rounds in the ring with the Mexican, and in 2019 Alvarez made himself a four-weight world champion by following up a successful defence of his middleweight titles with a knockout win over WBO light-heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev.
With belts galore and plenty of money in the bank you would have thought that Alvarez would be more than happy with his lot, but behind the scenes he was unhappy with how his career was being managed and in November of this year it was announced that a lawsuit for “breach of contract” had been settled and that he was no longer under the Golden Boy banner.
Within weeks a fight with Smith was confirmed, but can Canelo put that legal fight firmly behind him to add another world title to his list of accolades? Or can Smith cement his status as the number one super-middleweight fighter on the planet by avenging brother Liam’s defeat and becoming the first man to beat Alvarez for seven years?
Canelo Alvarez v Callum Smith Tips: Expert Predictions
Former world cruiserweight champion Tony Bellew talking to Sky Sports: “Make no mistake, Smith is the test of a lifetime for Canelo. Smith is bigger in size, stronger, undefeated. Canelo? I’m not so sure he can deal with the size and the pressure that Smith will bring. The biggest shock that Canelo will find? When Callum gets on the inside he is not to be messed with. I think Callum can shock the world. He will be a heavy underdog because Canelo is pound-for-pound up there with the big boys. Canelo is the best counter-puncher in boxing and a devastating body puncher. If anyone has the keys to unlock the door, it is Callum.”
Interim WBA middleweight champion Chris Eubank Jr talking to Sky Sports: “It will be a dominant performance from Canelo. After watching Smith against John Ryder, that exposed a lot of weaknesses in his game. Canelo is a better, more advanced version of Ryder. Smith will have a lot of trouble in this fight. I don’t see him being effective. But he does have heavy hands so that would be the only way he has success – but Canelo has a good chin. Smith is a legitimate world champion so is the right fight for Canelo.”
Canelo Alvarez v Callum Smith Tips: Fighter Predictions
Canelo Alvarez talking to TV Azteca: “”He is a fighter who comes forward looking for a fight, who does not give you a chance to breathe, to get your rhythm going. He is a fighter who has many qualities, a lot of power too, but we are ready for this and for more. I think at these levels we have to fit in with everything with the experience we have and it will be a great fight. I’m ready for this and these kinds of challenges are the ones I like in boxing to keep going and make history.”
Callum Smith: “I’ve been wanting a big fight since becoming World champion, so I’m so pleased that during these challenging times we can deliver to the fans a fight between the very best in the division. I truly believe I beat him and will prove that 168lbs is my division.”