No spoilers expected here. The script for this bout Saturday seems to be written in stone.
SAN DIEGO, September 16, 2016 – When you are a Mexican boxing superstar fighting in a main event on Mexican Independence Day weekend, your opponent hardly matters. Devoted fans will come out to support and salute you out of national pride.
Saul “Canelo” Alvarez of Mexico (47-1-1, 33 KOs) should send plenty of people home happy from AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas Saturday night after he faces Great Britain’s Liam “Beefy” Smith (23-0-1, 13 KOs). The fight will air on HBO Pay Per View starting at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT.
Alvarez has already proven himself a big draw in Texas, drawing 30,000 fans from both sides of the border for his bout last year with James Kirkland. Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and Golden Boy Promotions CEO Oscar De La Hoya both predict at least 45,000 fans will fill the stadium for this fight card, by far the largest audience for boxing in the U.S. in many years and a possible record at AT&T Stadium. The current record is 50,994 for the Manny Pacquiao vs. Joshua Clottey bout in 2010.
Smith, 28, is fighting in the United States for the first time. He is part of a wave of British boxing champions, the first from Liverpool in two decades. Smith comes from a boxing family. His youngest brother Callum has enjoyed the most success. His older siblings Paul and Stephen have failed to make significant opportunities pay off.
Smith has at least as much of a chance as his fellow countryman Amir Khan did in May against Alvarez: not a whole lot, but just enough to make things interesting. Smith will put his WBO junior middleweight title on the line against Alvarez, who is dropping one pound from his recent 155-pound catchweight fights to fight in the junior middleweight division proper.
Assuming Alvarez retains all his usual power at the lower weight (and can make the weight), he should be able to take Smith’s punches easily while he settles in for the first few rounds. Just as with Khan, he will let the smaller, faster man get out to an early start while patiently takes stock. When Canelo determines how to get to his opponent, he will unleash the kind of punching power that dropped Khan and James Kirkland before him.
Smith likes to come forward, so he’ll give Alvarez a target to hit. Whether he can dish out damage in return is the big question mark.
“I know Canelo is a very accurate puncher and has a great deal of variety in the ring,” said Smith. “Canelo isn’t a full light middleweight like I am, and that’s to my advantage. It feels very good to be on this big stage, and it’s one that I have asked to be on.
I am going to show everyone that I can fight at a high magnitude and hopefully I’ll gain some more fans once I beat Canelo.
“I’ve got the ability to out box him, and put him in his place. Just because the writers and the boxing critics label me as the underdog isn’t my motivation. My family and their support is the only one I need,” said Smith.
Smith’s home gym is owned by Amir Khan, but Smith says he hasn’t talked to him about his fight with Canelo because he already knows what Khan did well, and what Khan failed to do in the ring.
Despite being heavily favored, Alvarez appears to have trained diligently for this fight. “We know how dangerous and difficult Liam Smith will be. We have not taken him lightly and we know he will come to fight on Saturday,” said Alvarez.
Alvarez says he takes his responsibility to represent the rich history of Mexican boxing seriously. “Anyone who knows me understands how much my country means to me. I was born in Mexico, I live in Mexico, and I spend most of my down time in Mexico, as well. I grew up idolizing Mexican fighters of the previous generations.
“But I also realize I am still young and have to keep working to be known as one of the all-time greats of Mexican boxing. That is a major motivation for me.
“So I will continue to do what I have done since I was 15 years old: Take my training seriously, fight the best of the best and take nothing for granted. If I am lucky enough to be considered among the all-time greats of Mexican fighters, I will be extremely grateful,” said Alvarez.
It’s unlikely this will end up ranking among Alvarez’ top fights when we look back on the whole of his career, but a loss could seriously damage his legacy. Like Kell Brook did last weekend against Gennady Golovkin, the bold Liam Smith gets a lot of credit simply for getting into the ring with Alvarez, and a good showing even in a losing effort will help him gain favor in his introduction to American and Mexican boxing fans.
Ringside Seat will host a Live Online Fan Chat for Canelo vs. Smith including the televised undercards here on Communities Digital News Saturday starting at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT. Bookmark this story and we’ll see you here for all the action.
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. She is also a serious boxing fan covering the Sweet Science for Communities. Read more Ringside Seat in Communities Digital News. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego. Gayle can be reached via Google +
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