Five weeks after his loss to Canelo Alvarez, former super middleweight titlist Callum Smith has given the Mexican superstar great praise, breaking down the fight and what went wrong for him in Texas on Dec. 19.
Smith (27-1, 19 KO) told Sky Sports that he knew there was a point where Canelo had taken over, and that his hope to pick up the pace in the second half just did not play out. He had particular praise for Alvarez’s jab, defense, and ring smarts:
“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. His best asset was his presence and his defense. 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 said Canelo (54-1-2, 36 KO) “can obviously punch but his power wasn’t ridiculous,” and that right now, he doesn’t think anyone can beat him.
Now 30, Smith seems to have some belief that his future is at light heavyweight, but that will play out. He’d have a solid chance of winning a world title in a second weight class moving up, and he’d still be really big compared to most at 175, as he has been at 168.
As for Canelo, he’s set to return Feb. 27 on DAZN against WBC mandatory challenger Avni Yildirim, defending both the WBC and WBA 168-pound titles. It’s seen, with good reason, as a pretty easy fight for Alvarez on paper, and the expectation is it will set up a May 8 bout with WBO titleholder Billy Joe Saunders.