AT&T Stadium, Arlington, TX, Sept. 17
TV: HBO Pay-Per-View
By Peter Lim
Despite being the challenger, Alvarez's superior experience cannot be overstated in this fight. At age 26, Alvarez (47-1-1, 33 KOs) has already taken on the cream of the crop of the 154-pound division. With the exception of Floyd Mayweather Jr., he has defeated an impressive list of opponents - a handful of future Hall-of-Famers included - with an equally impressive array of styles.
Smith (23-0-1, 13 KOs), on the other hand, has built his record in relatively obscurity against a parade of equally obscure opponents. He won the vacant alphabet belt against a 17-1 fighter and defended it twice against opponents with deceptively-decent resumes. Style-wise, at this juncture of his career at least, Smith, 28, appears to be a one-dimensional bully who chugs forward behind a high peekaboo guard while shooting a long, thumping jab to set up more debilitating punches. His modus operandi basically boils down to landing first, landing harder and breaking his opponents down in a war of attrition.
The multi-faceted Alvarez might require two or three rounds to figure out Smith's aggressive approach, but once he does, the fight becomes a one-sided affair. The red-headed, Irish-looking Mexican will effortlessly sidestep Smith's charges and deliver pinpoint head-snapping and rib-rattling counters from both fists with a vengeance. Despite absorbing a sustained and brutal beating, the tough but overmatched Brit stubbornly refuses to wilt, forcing Alvarez to settle for an academic, lope-sided victory on the scorecards.
As long as Canelo can make 154 pounds, the much anticipated showdown with 3G seems unlikely. If he can sell 51,000 tickets against a guy like Smith, he doesn't need to move up before he is ready to guarantee himself a handsome payday. In the meantime, while waiting for him to grow into a full-fledged middleweight, a fight with one of the Charlo twins wouldn't be a shabby option. As for Golovkin, Daniel Jacobs, a fighter who has a better knockout percent than him, represents an equally intriguing if less marketable matchup than Canelo.