Callum Smith: Alvarez Is Not Mission Impossible
It is a fight that is criminally going under the radar, it has intrigue and in one corner, arguably the best boxer on the planet.
Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez, the Mexican superstar is back, with the contract issues now resolved, Alvarez will look to build further on what he has already started. One defeat to Floyd Mayweather, when he was still in the relative embryonic stages of his career, Alvarez has largely been dominant in every fight, every weight division since.
A champion in multiple weight divisions, Alvarez in many ways, has proved to be extremely difficult to beat. There have been close calls, the judges swung his way in fights where perhaps they should have gone the other way. But Alvarez is a formidable opponent with very few weaknesses, you need more than a favourable pen to beat him.
The latest to try is the unbeaten Callum Smith, the WBA (Super) and The Ring super-middleweight champion risks everything this weekend in Texas. But with that risk comes a very high reward.
Smith (27-0) has the size advantage but is a sizable underdog, winning looks a monumental task. Alvarez has shown no fragility around his chin, a Marvin Hagler type forcefield, it looks impregnable. For Smith, a win only looks likely on points, but is that feasible. When it is close, sometimes when it isn’t, Alvarez tends to get the benefit of the doubt. Smith believes he can win on points, but can he?
The version of the Liverpool fighter we saw last time out against John Ryder is unlikely to trouble Alvarez. It was a desperately close call, Ryder was perceived as extremely unlucky not to have won, the usual cries of robbery did the rounds. It was anything but, close yes, robbery no, but it wasn’t the type of performance that would give the likes of Alvarez too many sleepless nights.
But fighters can fight to the level of opponent in front of him, different styles just don’t mix, Smith can be excused one bad night at the office. He will hope that is all it was.
Smith had decisively beaten and retired George Groves in the final of the World Boxing Super Series tournament previously, that version could give Alvarez all the trouble he can handle.
Since that defining night in 2018, Smith has only fought twice, the win over Groves should have launched him onto a different level, and for many reasons, it hasn’t.
But on Saturday night Smith gets that golden ticket opportunity to put all the frustrations behind him. Refreshingly Smith has spoken about just getting the win and not the star status that would come with it. For him, it is just about the victory and proving a point. Smith would have been hurt by all the criticism and doubt after the Ryder fight, this is his legacy moment.
The vacant WBC belt is also on the line, but the belts are just a minor irrelevance to everything else that would come with a Smith victory. The Ryder performance was worrying, the one against Groves was encouraging, Smith will need a repeat of Groves against Alvarez and probably a lot more.
Smith does seem to be the type of fighter who can raise his game depending on the level of threat in front of him. Alvarez brings danger and plenty of it, but it is not mission impossible by any means.
Sergey Kovalev gave Alvarez plenty to think about when Alvarez moved up to light-heavyweight in his last fight. Kovalev is a fighter in the decline, Smith is anything but. The Kovalev fight gives Smith hope and even a small amount of confidence.
Gennady Golovkin also proved Alvarez isn’t unbeatable, I thought the Mexican lost both fights, and Danny Jacobs also pushed him close. Smith isn’t without a chance. In a defining fight, his jab could be definitive.
The fight should have more eyes on it, and if Smith does pull off an unlikely win, it would be in some degree of obscurity, certainly in his home country. The fight deserves better.
While Alvarez (53-1-2) is quite rightly favoured, Smith does have the look of a live underdog, and he might, like the fight itself, be going under the radar. The undefeated champion seems relaxed, and I think he quietly fancies that there might be an upset in the air.
Alvarez has mentioned in his pre-fight media obligations the risk of taking on Smith, it could be a bigger risk than even he realises.