Who: Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez vs Liam Smith
When: Sept 17th, 2016
Where: AT&T Stadium (Dallas, Texas)
TV: HBO Pay-Per-View
Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez continues on the road to what many hope is a mega fight against Gennady ‘GGG’ Golovkin with what many deem as a warm up fight against Liam Smith. Smith comes into the fight a +700 underdog, in part, because most fans hadn’t heard of him prior to the fight being made.
Fighting in what will certainly be a pro-Canelo crowd, Alvarez will be able to afford to fight a patient fight against Smith. Knowing he probably won’t get the benefit of the doubt, one must wonder if Smith will move away from his counter punching style and come forward more often.
Keys to Victory for Liam Smith
- Movement – Canelo still struggles with effective movement. Both Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Erislandy Lara gave Alvarez problems with angles of attic. Even early in Canelo’s fight against Amir Khan, he allowed Khan to land solid punches. Can Liam Smith implement a style unnatural for him and be effective with it is the question.
- Get In/Get Out – Smith will want to get to Canelo’s body which looks terrific on paper but what price will he pay for doing so? Smith will need to use angles to get into Canelo’s body and immediately get out. Most would say he needs to do this early in the fight to make the proper “investment” but being too focused on doing this could make him one dimensional and actually put him in more danger.
- Don’t Be Straight – If Smith does get in and out, the ‘out’ part becomes important. Against lesser fighters, Smith can get away with going straight back and an exit. This will not bode well for him against Canelo who punished Khan for doing the same. It would put Smith at Ground Zero of Canelo’s power and will allow 3-4 punch combinations.
- Jab With A Purpose – Jabbing to get inside will not be effective enough for Smith. He will need to jab with a purpose for two reasons: 1) Canelo is known to stop punching when his opponent jabs and 2) it can set up combinations and could further cause Canelo to be hesitant.
Keys to Victory for Canelo Alvarez
- Patience – Canelo is a heavy favorite and it would be easy for him to come in and look for the early knockout or be uber aggressive to the way he was against James Kirkland. Early opportunities could be there but those will be present do to patience as opposed to attacking. If Canelo waits, opportunities should open up in the middle rounds especially if Smith tires.
- Jab – Canelo’s jab is another power punch of his. Pumping his jab will be effective in dictating Smith’s activity and could very well discourage Smith from jabbing more. Putting Smith in a defensive posture early on in the fight will allow Alvarez to unleash his vicious combinations and could ensure that the fight never reaches the scorecards.
- Be First – There’s no reason for Canelo to be hesitant so he can easily get off first. He must be smart and show some movement of his own. Even though Liam Smith would like to counterpunch, this shouldn’t be an issue as long as Canelo doesn’t get flat footed.
- Style Points – It’s widely perceived that Canelo is running from GGG and Alvarez’ comments about not being impressed with GGG’s victory over Kell Brook didn’t help. Part of the reason he spouted off about GGG is that he believes he can overwhelm Smith so look for Canelo to go for the knockout sometime in the fight.
Marcus “Mook” Washington is the host of Making The Cut. Follow Mook on Twitter: @mtcwithmook and IG: MTCWithMook