Photo: Will Hart
By Frank Della Femina
Canelo Alvarez has been here before. The big fights on the biggest stage with the grand arrivals; it’s all second nature to the 26-year-old Mexican fighter.
His opponent, Liam Smith, may be new to the bright lights of a pay per view event, but doesn't consider himself any less prepared than his heavily-favored opponent.
“It’s [a moment] that I’ll embrace and I’ll love every minute of it,” Smith said during an interview with HBO Boxing Insider Kieran Mulvaney. “Every fighter is in boxing for those nights. When I beat Canelo Alvarez in front of 50,000 Mexicans I’m sure it’s going to be one of the best nights of me life.”
They say everything’s bigger in Texas, and without a doubt the stakes have never been bigger for Smith. At 23-0-1, his record is unblemished. But with only 13 wins by knockout, boxing fans wonder if he has the requisite power needed to trouble Canelo.
Joe Gallagher, Smith’s trainer, doesn't see a flashy stoppage for either fighter on Saturday night.
"I can't see either fighter getting knocked out through the chin,” he said. “I think the key factor of this fight will be body shots."
Canelo’s camp shares a similar sentiment, even if its fighter is fresh off a shattering KO win over Amir Khan this past May.
“We are prepared to fight 12 rounds. Twelve hard rounds,” said Canelo’s trainer, Chepo Reynoso. “If a knockout presents itself, then we’ll take it. We don’t prepare for a knockout. We prepare for 12 rounds.”
Whether Saturday’s fight ends via KO or decision, whispers of Gennady Golovkin will without a doubt surface from the boxing faithful as they cross fingers for the highly anticipated, and as of now, hypothetical matchup.
Canelo’s camp admitted they watched last weekend’s fight between Golovkin and Kell Brook, in which the Kazakh KO artist closed out another victory in the fifth round. However, merely “watching” is all the camp was willing to admit to.
When asked if Golovkin’s latest performance presented flaws in the fighter’s defense, in the wake of Brook landing cleaner punches than any previous opponent, Reynoso was quick to respond.
“We’re interested and we’re preoccupied with any flaws in Liam Smith,” Canelo’s trainer said. “We’re not concerned with Triple G.”
Gallagher doesn’t think those flaws are obvious for either fighter, but believes the fans will get their money’s worth come Saturday night.
“It’s a great fight between two great fighters, two thinking fighters, two power punchers. We’ll be ready."
Canelo-Smith happens Saturday at 9 PM ET, 6 PM PT on HBO PPV.