"I don’t think anyone beats him. He may only lose if he keeps going up in weight but he’s put a stop to that."
Callum Smith on Canelo Alvarez
After knocking out George Groves two years ago, Callum Smith was riding high. He’d entered the ring in Saudi Arabia an underdog. He exited the WBA supermiddleweight champion.
Groves was making the fourth defense of his title. Six months before, he had handled Chris Eubank Jr. with ease. Smith, the youngest of the fighting Smith brothers, had steadily made his way up the rankings. His resume wasn’t sexy, but it was solid, with many a domestic name. Groves had fought Carl Froch twice, Badou Jack, and Martin Murray. Experience was his.
The fight was close through six rounds. Groves and Smith were tied on one card. Two other judges had each winning. The seventh round was pivotal. Smith connects with a left hook that wobbles Groves – followed by a barrage of blows. Groves went down on all fours. He shook his head. The fight was over.
In the first defense of his title, Smith knocked out Hassan N’Dam N’Jikam. He looked good. In his next fight, against English rival John Ryder, he did not. Smith won but some of the luster of his victory over Groves had worn off.
Still when it was announced that he’d be fighting Canelo Alvarez for the vacant WBC strap, some eyebrows went up.
Alvarez was favored, but Smith was considered a live underdog. Some even predicted he’d win. Didn’t happen. Not even close. Perhaps his victory over Groves had caused the boxing community to overrate him? I think so, but still Smith, with a huge advantage in reach, would at least be competitive.
Not really. Alvarez punished Smith for 12 rounds.
“His best asset was his presence and his defense” Smith told Sky Sports last week.
“He is very clever in terms of the jab. He walks you down. With anybody else, you would jab. But he wants you to jab because he’s a counter-puncher. So, you don’t throw as many jabs and while you are waiting, he closes the space down without throwing anything. Then he jabs and hits you. You think: ’How did that land?’ He keeps you guessing all the time. You are hesitant.”
An honest explanation of what went down last month. Smith did hesitate while Alvarez did his thing.
“His best asset was his presence and his defense,” Smith said. “He was so hard to hit clean. When I was throwing, he was riding them, making me miss. You aren’t landing so you stop fully committing to shots. He takes away what you are good at.”
Smith came away from the first loss of his career an Alvarez believer.
“I don’t think anyone beats him. He may only lose if he keeps going up in weight but he’s put a stop to that. His defense is just too good. He can obviously punch but his power wasn’t ridiculous.”