Saul "Canelo" Alvarez vs. Liam Smith Fight Preview and Prediction to Win
When: Saturday, September 17, 2016
Where: AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Texas
Weight Class: Super Welterweights: 12 Rounds
Titles: WBO 154-Pound Title
By Loot, Boxing Handicapper, Lootmeister.com
Saul "Canelo" Alvarez, 47-1-1 (33 KOs), Guadalajara, Mexico
Liam "Beefy" Smith, 23-0-1 (13 KOs), Liverpool, England
Betting Odds: Saul "Canelo" Alvarez -1200, Liam Smith +600
Saul "Canelo" Alvarez will take on England's Liam Smith on September 17 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. While this bout is for Smith's WBO 154-pound belt, the A-side of this fight is most assuredly Alvarez, who is dropping back to 154 after a spell as WBC middleweight champion. With Canelo's super-fight with Gennady Golovkin being pushed back to 2017, Canelo gets back to business of fighting and all things considered, you can do a lot worse than Smith as an opponent for what basically amounts to a glorified stay-busy fight.
With this bout taking place in Vegas on Mexican Independence Day weekend, you won't find a more partisan crowd. The people will be squarely in Canelo's corner, a stark contrast to the home-field advantage Smith normally enjoys in Liverpool. It's not that British fighters don't travel well or there won't be British fans that make their way to the fight, but it goes beyond merely a boisterous crowd. Smith may in fact be the defending champion. But this isn't one of those "To become champion, you have to soundly beat the champion" scenarios. In fact, Smith is likely going to need to go above and beyond to stand a chance on the scorecards against the wildly-popular Canelo in his stomping grounds in Vegas.
Alvarez is basically biding time until the Golovkin fight. I'm not sure I love the career trajectory for Alvarez at this point, I found it curious that he dropped back to 154, even though he never took advantage of the middleweight poundage, as his fights were held at 155-pound catchweights. But it's a strange move in terms of getting ready for GGG. Also, by biding time, he is sending a strange message to his brain. While he will surely prepare professionally for the few guys he fights leading up to Golovkin, there may be this sense within Canelo that these guys are basically afterthoughts. The real test in Canelo's mind is the one with GGG and we know what can happen when fighters are caught looking ahead to bigger things. The littler things can come up and bite them.
Nevertheless, Canelo, who will be 26 by fight night, is the full package. He is a highly-competent and hard-hitting fighter with youth and experience. He has come around in recent fights as more of a puncher—a guy who can turn a fight with a few well-placed shots. There may be boxers of a certain elite level who can withstand Canelo's power, but at this level and at 154 pounds, he is a prodigious puncher among the likes of nothing Liam "Beefy" Smith has ever seen.
Both of these guys are born for this, having grown up in boxing-heavy families. Each has siblings who are pros, with Smith's family a veritable collection of prizefighters who have achieved varying success at the domestic and international level. The 27-year old Liverpool battler has scored 8 straight knockouts and is really coming into his own as one of the top men in a resurgent UK boxing scene.
Smith has a lot going for him. He has a nice right hand when he's in range and has shown a cagey side in his young career. Smith can be a bit predictable in his movements, though he has good energy and is responsible defensively. It's just that for a puncher of Canelo's ability, Smith tends to be a little too available and flat-footed. But Smith has a nice arsenal of shots—featuring a pesky jab and the ability to lash out with suddenness. It remains to be seen if he's another Lloyd Honeyghan or another in a long line of British imports that get mopped up by superstar fighters on this side of the pond. There is a lot to like about Smith, but make no mistake, he is taking a quantum leap in class against a far more robust and powerful fighter.
The daylight for Smith can come a few different ways. One is styles, with Canelo having trouble with movement and guys who can box very energetically. But whether Smith is capable of the artful boxing exhibitions that Canelo faced with Cotto, Erislandy Lara, and Floyd Mayweather is doubtful at best. Canelo could always be caught looking ahead. The weight could be a problem, though his ability to balloon up to 175 by fight night is also a potential advantage and has been in the past. And while he will have just turned 26 by fight night, Canelo is not a fighter without mileage. His face suggests a veteran fighter and he just might be older than his chronological age suggests.
Where the daylight turns dark for Smith is in the fact that judges seem to give Canelo a lot of credit, Cotto appeared to fight him on nearly even terms only to find he was way behind on the cards. If a Hall of Famer like Cotto can't even get a fair shake on the cards, what chance does Liam Smith stand? Potential Smith backers have to deal with the possible idea of their man having to dominate the fight in order to get credit for a win. And can Smith produce that type of performance?
There is an air of quality to Smith that one shouldn't completely disregard, even in what appears to be a near-impossible spot. There's a certain energy and crispness to his work. And it's not like Canelo is all that hard to hit. He will be there for Smith, should the Liverpudlian be up for the task. You just can't summarily rule out unbeaten and talented world championship fighters and assume they will be submissive in their role as the obedient B-side. But yeah, this would be an upset for the ages—at least as big of an upset as when Honeyghan upset pound-for-pound player Donald Curry 30 years ago.
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The odds tell a story. Canelo is a sizeable +1200 favorite, with Smith returning +600. That number on Smith isn't the extravaganza some may have expected. If Smith were able to turn the upset on the road against a guy who might be the sport's biggest active superstar, you'd almost want better than 6/1 return on your investment. It suggests the guys who are "in the know" aren't ruling out Smith.
On one hand, when you get a fighter as good as Smith at +600, it always warrants consideration. On the other hand, with all the roadblocks to victory, you'd almost like a better price. It's not simply about how good Smith is, but it's also about boxing politics. And it's hard to imagine Smith being able to win a decision against Canelo. I'll take Alvarez.
Loot's Pick to Win the Fight: I'm betting on Saul "Canelo" Alvarez at -1200. Bet this fight for FREE by taking advantage of a massive 100% sign-up bonus on your first deposit of $100 to $500 at GTBets!