By Ian S Palmer
Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez of Mexico returns to the ring this weekend as he takes on England’s unbeaten Liam Smith at the AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. The 12-round bout is for Smith’s WBO Junior Middleweight Championship and can be seen live in North America on HBO pay per view. Fans in the UK can catch all of the live action on BoxNation. Smith was last in action back in June when he beat Predrag Radosevic by way of a second-round stoppage. Meanwhile, Alvarez’s last fight was a sixth-round stoppage over Amir Khan of England in a WBC Middleweight Title defence back on May 7th. However, the contest was held at a catch weight of 155 lbs.
The 26-year-old Alvarez has an excellent record of 47-1-1 along with 33 Kos. His only loss was a majority decision to Floyd Mayweather in September of 2013 while his draw was a four-round affair against Jorge Juarez back in 2006. Alvarez stands 5-feet-9-inches tall and has a reach of 70.5 inches. He has a wealth of experience for his age since he turned pro when he was just 15 years old in 2005 and has 332 rounds under his belt since then. Alvarez has taken on and beaten some tough opponents over the years such as Khan, Miguel Cotto, James Kirkland, Mayweather, Austin Trout, Erislandy Lara, Shane Mosley, Josesito Lopez, Kermit Cintron, Carlos Baldomir, and Alfredo Angulo.
Alvarez has above-average power and enters the fight with a current knockout ratio of 67 per cent. He also owns a granite chin and perhaps just as much dynamite in his quick fists and while Mayweather and Khan, to some degree, showed he could be outboxed, there’s not much chance of Smith stopping him. The Mexican is a good boxer-puncher who likes to go to the body, but has a bit of difficulty with boxers who move, such as Mayweather and Khan. He’s a strong man and can box as well as slug it out if he has to. Smith is definitely taking a huge step up in class here and it’s easy to see why he’s the clear underdog.
This will be the undefeated Smith’s third defence of the title. His first came back in December when he stopped fellow Brit Jimmy Kelly in the seventh round in Manchester with his second successful defence being against Radosevic. The 28-year-old Smith is the former British Commonwealth Champion and won the vacant WBO world crown last October with a seventh-round stoppage over John Thompson of America. The win meant he became the first world champion to hail from Liverpool for 22 years. Smith showed good power against the little-known Thompson and finished him off with fine left hook which followed a punishing right hand. He enters the bout with a near perfect record of 23-0-1 with 13 Kos to his name.
Smith has also beaten the likes of Zoltan Sera and David Romero and fought to a four-round draw with Terry Carruthers in 2010. He’s hoping to eventually unify the junior middleweight division by taking on IBO and WBA champ Erislandy Lara of Cuba and unbeaten IBF king Jermall Charlo of the U.S. He’s on the short side for a super welterweight at just over 5-feet-9-inches tall and has an unlisted reach. Smith has fought mainly domestic opponents since turning pro in 2008 and has 126 rounds of experience under his belt since then. He’s got decent power in his fists and currently possesses a knockout ratio of 54 per cent.
Smith hasn’t really done himself ay favours by fighting Grade B opponents over the years and his first real test comes against one of the world’s best. Alvarez has trouble against slick boxers, but Smith isn’t one of them. There’s no doubt Smith will give it all he’s got and should have some fine moments, but Alvarez should eventually catch up to him and end the bout by a stoppage in the second half of the contest.