Canelo Alvarez fights Liam Smith – It’s official. Saul “Canelo” Alvarez’s next opponent will be WBO World junior middleweight champion Liam “Beefy” Smith. They will fight on Saturday, September 17 which happens to be Mexican Independence Day weekend. What has yet to be determined is the venue, but the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas appears to be the front-runner. At the June 21 meeting of the Nevada State Athletic Commission, Alvarez’s promoter, Golden Boy Promotions, formally requested the date of September 17. However, a formal request isn’t binding and there is no penalty if GBP opts to take the fight elsewhere. Jerry Jones, the owner of the Dallas Cowboys, has expressed interest in staging the fight at the home of his football team, AT&T Stadium. Other possibilities — think Brooklyn, London, and Manchester – are longshots.
Smith isn’t as well known internationally as his British compatriot Amir Kahn, Alvarez’s last victim, but Smith (23-0-1, 13 KOs) poses a bigger threat to Alvarez (47-1-1) than did Kahn who was jumping up two weight classes. True, there are few recognizable names on his ledger, but those who have followed Smith’s career closely are in universal accord that he is steadily improving. The draw that smudges his record happened early in his career in a 4-round fight. He has won eight straight inside the distance, most recently a second-round stoppage of Montenegro’s Predrag Radosevic. He felled Radosevic with a wicked left hook to the body, his signature punch.
Liam Smith, who has fought exclusively in the U.K., is the second-youngest of the four fighting Smith brothers from Liverpool. His two older brothers, Paul Smith and Stephen Smith, didn’t fare well when they crossed the pond. Paul Smith was thoroughly outclassed by Andre Ward. Their bout in Oakland in June of 2015 went into the books as a ninth-round stoppage for Ward. Stephen Smith lost a unanimous decision to Jose Pedraza in a failed bid for Pedraza’s IBF World 130-pound title at Foxwoods in Connecticut this past April 16.
There seems to be an inverse relationship, however, between the age of a Smith brother and his fistic talent. Liam Smith, it seems, is better than Stephen, who in turn is better than Paul. The baby of the bunch, Callum Smith, may prove to be the best of the lot. The reigning British super middleweight champion, Callum Smith is undefeated in 20 pro fights with 15 knockouts, ten in the opening round.
Canelo Alvarez vs. whoever will make the turnstiles hum if staged in Las Vegas on a Mexican holiday weekend, but a bigger question is whether Canelo vs. Liam Smith will translate into strong receipts on HBO pay-per-view. Will boxing fans boycott the fight as a way of showing their displeasure at Canelo’s failure to meet the challenge of Gennady Golovkin?
Of all of Canelo’s recent fights, his upcoming match would seem to be most in need of a strong undercard. If Callum Smith were added to the show against a good opponent, the promotion would have a lot more sizzle.