By: Hans Themistode
Callum Smith won’t make any excuses. However, something just wasn’t right.
When the British native stepped into the ring against Canelo Alvarez just a few months ago, he looked lethargic, passive and unenthused about being there. By the time 12 rounds of action passed by, Smith knew that he hadn’t done nearly enough to pick up the win. He was right as he lost a wide decision on the night.
Shortly after the defeat which resulted in the forfeiture of his WBA and Ring magazine titles, Smith (27-1, 19 KOs) told reporters that making the super middleweight limit has never been easy and making the move to light heavyweight could be a move that he does sooner rather than later. Well, according to promoter Eddie Hearn, that move is coming now.
“Callum Smith is going to return later this year at light heavyweight,” said Hearn during his Instagram Live.
In terms of whom Smith could make his return against, Hearn was mum on the subject. But while an opponent hasn’t been sought out just yet, Hearn does work closely with WBA light heavyweight titlist Dmitry Bivol. The undefeated belt holder is set to end a year and a half of inactivity later on this year as Hearn is currently working on back-to-back title defenses in an effort to help him shake some of the rust off.
As for Smith’s run at 168 pounds, he leaves behind a legacy that included a WBA world title, a first-place finish in the World Boxing Super Series in 2018 and a long list of notable fighters he knocked off along the way.
With stoppage wins over the likes of George Groves, Rocky Fielding and Hassan N’Dam – Smith will look to pick up even bigger victories and more world titles seven pounds north. First things first however, he’ll continue to recover from the injuries he suffered at the hands of Alvarez before getting his feet wet in a new weight class.
By: Hans Themistode
While he tried his best, former WBA/Ring magazine titlist Callum Smith was simply no match for Canelo Alvarez this past weekend at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas. Through 12 one-sided rounds, Smith fell flat as he forfeited his titles to the Mexican superstar.
For the most, Smith was praised for withstanding the beating Alvarez dished out for the entirety of their contest. In the case of former WBC belt holder David Benavidez (23-0, 20 KOs) however, nothing Smith did impressed him.
“Callum looked gassed in the third round,” said Benavidez on his social media account. “He looked weak as fuck the whole fight.”
The game plan which Smith deployed on the night, was a stark difference from the one he detailed before their showdown. Smith, 30, was under the impression that he could hold his ground with the much smaller Alvarez and dictate the pace. Regardless of Smith believing he would be the stronger man, the Mexican native proved to be far too much in virtually every category.
Throwing salt on his fresh wound isn’t something that Benavidez enjoy’s. But he did make it clear that the constant retreating by Smith is something that would be the complete opposite if and when he gets his opportunity.
“I guarantee to make it a war and not run around the ring for 12 rounds like Callum.”
For Benavidez, a showdown with Alvarez is exactly what he is hoping for. With that being said, so is the rest of the super middleweight division. And the middleweight division. And, although he has only fought there once, several champions in the light heavyweight division want their crack at him as well.
Still, even with the seemingly endless names ahead of him awaiting their turn for a shot at Alvarez, the 24-year-old Benavidez has no issue waiting. Whether it’s a showdown with Caleb Plant, Callum Smith or even Jermall Charlo – Benavidez is steadfast in his belief that he will bulldoze the competition in order to get to the front of the line.
“I will get through anybody to get to Canelo if that’s what needs to be done. I’ll be ready when my opportunity comes. It don’t matter who in front of me. I will make them all bend the knee.”
By: Hans Themistode
Size, in fact, does not matter.
The jokes were non-stop whenever Canelo Alvarez (54-1-2, 36 KOs) and former WBC/Ring magazine super-middleweight champion Callum Smith (27-1, 19 KOs) stood next to one another. Yet, even with a seven-inch height and eight-inch reach disadvantage, Alvarez took care of business against his man.
In the main event slot over at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas, Alvarez had little to no trouble navigating around the much bigger Smith. From the opening bell, the British native attempted to stand his ground and not allow Alvarez to bully him. That however, did not last long as Alvarez forced the former titlist to retreat within seconds.
The first round played out quietly as the former four-division champion attempted to feel out his opponent. With every physical advantage on the side of Smith, Alvarez made sure to gauge his range before unleashing an onslaught. After finding his rhythm and distance, it was bombs away for the pound for pound star.
Alvarez continually walked forward, kept his hands up and evaded every shot thrown in his direction. In turn, Alvarez landed huge shot after huge shot.
As the rounds ticked by, the body of Smith began to turn red and his face began to deteriorate. During the middle rounds, Smith began to find his second wind and began to find a home for his uppercuts on the inside.
His offensive attack however, was far and few between as he spent most of his time eating leather. With the win seemingly in the bank, Smith simply attempted to end the fight standing upright. Each shot that landed, no matter the location, came with a painful reaction.
During the final round, Smith’s desire to simply survive was evident as he tied up Alvarez on various occasions and looked up at the clock to see how much time was left in his nightmare.
As the final bell rang, Smith slumped his shoulders and walked to his corner. His reign as super-middleweight champion came to an abrupt end a few moments later as the judges announced a lopsided decision win for the Mexican superstar.
By: Hans Themistode
When Callum Smith is juxtaposed to Canelo Alvarez, everything is tilted in his favor.
Height? Check. Reach? Check. Even in terms of knockout percentage, Smith edges ahead. Despite all of the numbers being in his benefit, former trainer of Gennadiy Golovkin in Abel Sanchez, doesn’t believe any of that will matter once the two face off later on tonight at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas.
“I think it’ll be an easy fight for him,” said Sanchez during a recent interview with Fight Hub TV. “Canelo is the number one fighter in the world right now. You can’t look at Canelo’s record and who’s he fought and say he’s not number one. He’s got the best record of anyone in boxing right now.”
Having faced Alvarez in back to back contests when he cornered Gennadiy Golovkin, Sanchez knows first hand just how good he is. Since those showdowns, Alvarez has gone on to win world titles at both light heavyweight and super middleweight. In his most recent ring appearance, the Mexican product scored an 11th round stoppage win over former WBO 175 pound titlist Sergey Kovalev.
While most have given Alvarez credit for the win, others have disparaged it by pointing to Kovalev’s age and the wear and tear on his body. That however, is bullshit to Sanchez.
“Look at what did to Kovalev who’s a much better fighter than Callum Smith is. What? All of a sudden Kovalev grew old in one fight? No, he just got his ass whopped by Canelo.”
For Alvarez, his showdown with Smith will be the second in the super middleweight division. His first contest came roughly two years ago against Rocky Fielding. In what was predicted to be a mismatch, Alvarez stomped on his man, dropping him four times before finishing him off in the third round.
Smith, to his credit, laid a demolition job of his on Fielding three years prior, stopping him before the end of the first round.
By all accounts, Smith is viewed as a much better fighter. With that being said, Sanchez is under the belief that the beating that Alvarez handed to Fielding will look similar to the one he hands out to Smith later on tonight.
“I think that Callum gives him a little tougher fight than Rocky Fielding. I think he’s a better fighter but still, Canelo is at the top of his game right now. I think it’ll be an easy fight for him.”
By: Hans Themistode
There was a litany of names spewed across the desk of Canelo Alvarez roughly a month ago. Some that were world champions and some that were simply interesting names. After mulling over his options, Alvarez attempted to make his 2020 ring debut against IBF super middleweight titleholder Caleb Plant.
Those plans however, never materialized as there reportedly wasn’t enough time to promote a fight of that magnitude. With several notable names still ready, willing and able to take him on – Alvarez instead opted to face the much larger Smith.
For the Mexican product, taking Smith on this Saturday night was a complete no brainer. It wasn’t simply because he holds both the WBA and Ring magazine titles, but more so because of how highly Alvarez ranks the British star.
“He’s ranked number one at 168 pounds,” said Alvarez during an interview with IFL TV. “We did have conversations with others but unfortunately it did not happen. Fortunately though, we did get this fight.”
Although a win over Smith isn’t guaranteed, Alvarez only envisions himself as the winner. Should that be the case, the 30-year-old pound for pound star has placed a target on the back of the other 168 pound champions.
“I want to unify all of the titles. That is our plan. Next year that is what we will be working on.”
Amongst those aforementioned champions at 168 pounds is current WBO titlist, Billy Joe Saunders. Both Alvarez and Saunders were originally set to meet earlier in the year. That of course, was immediately pushed to the wayside due to a combination of COVID-19 and the boxing license of Saunders getting suspended due to a viral video of the British native hitting a heavy bag while giving instructions on how to punch your wife should she annoy you too much during quarantine.
After speaking with the British Boxing Board of Control and paying 25,000 pounds to a domestic abuse charity, Saunders was officially cleared. Earlier this month, he kept his undefeated record intact by cruising past long faded contender Martin Murray.
At the moment, Saunders is still in possession of the WBO title. As long as Alvarez takes of business come this Saturday night, he has no issue with circling back to the negotiating table to take on either Saunders or whoever else has his world title.
“That’s the idea. He has the WBO title and we’re going after those titles. It doesn’t matter who has them. That’s the idea, to go after those titles.”
By: Hans Themistode
The pot has been sweetened for the winner of Canelo Alvarez vs Callum Smith next weekend on December 19th. Originally, Smith’s WBA and Ring magazine world titles were on the line. However, with the WBC belt currently vacant, Mauricio Sulaiman, President of the sanctioning body, has decided to make the winner of Smith vs Alvarez a unified champion.
“The WBC is extremely proud to have such tremendous fight for the vacant WBC Super-Middleweight title,” said WBC President Mauricio Sulaiman. “Canelo and Callum will give the world a superb closing of a difficult year and will make fans from around the world celebrate with much entertainment and enjoyment. I would like to personally praise Avni Yildirim for his exemplary collaboration to make this a reality.”
The praise heaped on the shoulders of Avni Yildirim is due to his willingness to step aside and allow Smith and Alvarez to compete for the world title. As the number one mandatory challenger, Yildirim was set to take on then-champion David Benavidez. Those plans were immediately scrapped however as Benavidez lost his title on the scales. From there, Alvarez and Yildirim were set to go through with a purse bid so that the two could battle it out for the vacant title. Yet, with Alvarez dealing with legal issues stemming from a contract dispute with former promoter Oscar De La Hoya and Golden Boy Promotions as well as streaming company DAZN, Yildirim was forced to sit patiently on the sidelines.
With Alvarez getting past his legal woes, he opted to bypass Yildirim and take on Smith instead in a much more high profile matchup, his first of the year. To help placate Yildirim’s sacrifices, the winner of Alvarez vs Smith will be given a deadline of 90 days to take him on.
For promoter Eddie Hearn, dragging Alvarez back to DAZN for his contest against Smith after the pair separated only a few months ago was a feat he gushed over. But with the addition of the WBC title, Hearn is currently jumping for joy in his palatial estate.
“I am delighted that the winner of this fight will be crowned the WBC World champion at 168lbs,” said promoter Eddie Hearn. “Canelo Alvarez is the pound-for-pound best fighter on the planet, and Callum Smith is the number one Super-Middleweight on the planet – so it is fitting for the winner to proudly wear the green and gold belt on December 19.”
By: Sean Crose
After months of fight fans wondering just who Canelo Alvarez would fight next, word has finally come out that the Mexican star will be facing the highly regarded WBA super middleweight belt holder Callum Smith on December 19th. Amid speculation, it was assumed Canelo would either face Smith or Caleb Plant next, the IBF champion. Now that it’s clear Canelo will be facing Smith, there is a bit of irony to the entire affair. For Canelo, he recently parted ways with Golden Boy Promotions and the DAZN streaming service. Now, less than a month after the break, it’s clear he’ll be back before DAZN cameras again when he faces Smith.
One of the biggest, if not the single biggest, attractions in the sport, Canelo has been a prominent player in the fight game since he faced Floyd Mayweather back in 2013. The red haired fighter lost that super fight, but went on to win and get better year after year. Now, with numerous championships and major bouts on his resume, Canelo can essentially pick and choose who his opponents will be. Smith, essentially, has won the Canelo sweepstakes. Not that he hasn’t earned it.
Boasting a perfect record of 27-0, Smith has worked his way to the top of the super middleweight division without an inordinate amount of fanfare. His last fight, which went down in November of last year, saw the Englishman best John Ryder. Smith, like so many fighters, has been waiting for a major fight. Now that the opportunity is here, Smith will unquestionably be at his best when he slips in between the ropes to face Canelo. Not that he won’t have some advantages walking in.
Smith, after all, will be boasting a close to six inch height advantage. That’s tough for any fighter to overcome, even one of Canelo’s pedigree. The man also has a championship pedigree and absolutely oozes confidence. Canelo, on the other hand, has engaged with one big name after another. Miguel Cotto, Gennady Golovkin, and Amir Khan have all been bested by Canelo. He even won a light heavyweight title in his last fight, which saw him best Sergey Kovalev in November of 2019. As of now, the man’s record stands at 53-1-2 with 36 of those wins coming via stoppage.
No location has been presented for Canelo-Smith as of yet.
By: Hans Themistode
Fans of Canelo Alvarez had become sick and tired of watching their pound for pound star fighting his battles outside of the ring and inside the courtroom. Now, it appears things will go back to normal.
After a relatively short legal battle with former promoter Oscar De La Hoya and Golden Boy Promotions along with streaming company DAZN, Alvarez (53-1-2, 36 KOs) has become a free agent and is reportedly facing off against WBC super middleweight titlist Callum Smith in mid December. No deal has been struck yet, but promoter Eddie Hearn has stated that talks are “ongoing.”
Also, according to Hearn, although Alvarez has recently broke free from his DAZN contract, should his contest against Smith take place, it would be shown on DAZN.
Alvarez, 30, is still in possession of the WBA Regular super middleweight title. A belt he claimed in late 2018 with a third round knockout victory over Rocky Fielding, making a potential showdown with Smith (27-0, 19 KOs) a unification contest.
For Smith, the lanky British product has also sat idly on the sidelines. In his last ring appearance, which took place in November of 2019, roughly the same date as Alvarez, Smith was seen struggling to win a unanimous decision against then mandatory challenger John Ryder. Regardless of his performance, Smith has called for a showdown with Alvarez for years now.
The former World Boxing Super Series winner was always viewed as a possible candidate. Yet, so was WBO super middleweight champion Billy Joe Saunders, IBF belt holder Caleb Plant and a long list of others.
Nothing is set in stone as of now, but Hearn believes something could be imminent. Should a deal be struck, the likely destination would be Texas. Late last month, former two division champion Gervonta Davis, hosted the first live boxing event with a crowd in attendance since COVID-19 closed the doors of various venues around the world. A crowd of just over 9,000 witnessed the 25 year old score a knockout of the year candidate against Leo Santa Cruz.
In Alvarez’s last trip to Texas, the former four division champion stopped Liam Smith, brother of Callum, in the ninth round of their contest.
By: Hans Themistode
No one is waiting in line to face WBA Light Heavyweight titlist Dmitry Bivol, but that hasn’t stopped him from calling out big name fighters to face him. Even those in other divisions.
Bivol (17-0, 11 KOs) has put together a solid championship run. Beating the likes of Jean Pascal, Joe Smith Jr and Sullivan Barrera amongst others. Facing no hopers isn’t on the mind of Bivol though. He’s more interested in facing other title holders. But with unified Light Heavyweight champion Artur Beterbiev tied up due to mandatory obligations, that leaves very little on the table for Bivol in his next contest.
That statement might be true at 175, but at 168, everything is wide open.
“I think it could be a great fight for Britain fans and for Russian fans,” said Bivol to Chris Lloyd on the Matchroom boxing podcast The Lockdown Tapes, when asked about a matchup with WBA Super Middleweight champion Callum Smith. “For boxing, it’s a good fight because he’s a champion at 168 pounds, and I am the champion at 175. I would like to fight against the best fighters in the world, and he’s now one of these guys who’s the best.”
In a perfect world, the 6 feet 3 Smith (27-0, 19 KOs) would move up in weight, but boxing is far from perfect and Smith seems just fine campaigning one weight class below. The seven pound difference isn’t an issue for Bivol though. He’s never been known as a big Light Heavyweight and his last fight proved it.
“[It’s] better at 175 because this is my weight. But I can move to 168. It’s not a problem for me, I think, because my last fight on the [weigh-in] day, I had breakfast before I weighed in. And I don’t feel thirsty on this day. I think I have a reserve to make [168 pounds].”
At first glance, a matchup between Bivol and Smith might come off as awkward. The two have never been seen in the same arena against one another, never mind the same ring. At least in the pros. In the amateurs however, these two are all too familiar with one another.
“It was in Hungary. To be honest, I don’t remember this fight at all because when we fight each other, for me it was just a guy from Great Britain, just a tall guy who has good skills. But I have to beat him. Only like that, my memories.”
If Bivol gets his wish, he’ll get his chance to replay that memory one more time.