Mission Impossible For ¨Beefy¨ Smith In Texas?
As we know, anyone who steps into a boxing ring has already faced and conquered many more mental and physical challenges than most of us can ever truly appreciate.
Occasionally professional fighters are given the opportunity to take on an assignment so monumental it makes a run of the mill scrap seem like a walk in the park.
For Liam ‘Beefy' Smith, 23(13)-0-1, his matchup with Saul ‘Canelo' Alvarez, 47(33)-1-1, on September 17 falls into this monumental category: Monumentally difficult!
Smith, from Liverpool, England, is the current WBO light Middleweight Champion. This will be his third defence of the belt he won in October 2015 by stopping John Thompson of New Jersey in the 7th round.
Alvarez, hailing from Guadalajara, Mexico, is moving back down to the 154lb division after vacating the WBC Middleweight title instead of facing his mandatory challenger at 160lbs, Gennady Golovkin. Alvarez was previously the WBC and WBA Champion at 154lbs before he ran into Floyd Mayweather – resulting in his only career defeat thus far. Despite being younger (26 versus 28) Alvarez has double the amount of paid fights on his record mainly due to following a popular trend in Mexico of turning professional at the tender age of 15.
The fight will take place in the 100,000 capacity Dallas Cowboys Football Stadium on Mexican Independence weekend. Given the location and the significance of the date the crowd inside the huge arena will be fiercely pro Alvarez.
‘Canelo' has been installed as a heavy favourite for the HBO PPV (Boxnation in the UK) clash. Many boxing fans and pundits in The United States are giving ‘Beefy' no chance of winning the fight. Hopefully Smith can use this as motivation to put in the performance of his career.
It is not a lost cause for Smith and I don't believe he is travelling over to Texas for a pay day and to meekly surrender his belt. Despite the points already made all being in Alvarez's favour Smith is the defending champion going in and must approach the fight with a champion's attitude and confidence. If anything, Alvarez's confidence may be slightly rattled after the furious backlash he faced from boxing fans, many of them his countrymen, for side-stepping the challenge of Golovkin.
Another thing that can help Smith is that he comes from a fighting family. Liam is the second youngest of four brothers. His three siblings are all professional boxers operating at world level. This family support system can only be advantageous to Smith as he prepares for what lies ahead.
Being widely expected to lose, and lose heavily, can also play into Smith's hands as he can go into the fight under no pressure and perhaps ease himself into the contest in a relaxed mindset.
The work done during training camp and the game plan Team Smith implement will need to be almost perfect, though. A look at both fighter's records shows that Alvarez has shared the ring with a far higher level of opponent. The Mexican has faced highly regarded fighters like Shane Mosley, Erislandy Lara, Miguel Cotto and the previously mentioned Mayweather. Smith's CV does not feature any names close to the class of these boxers so the Liverpool man knows he is now operating at a higher level of the sport.
The final point I will draw attention to while underlining how tough this fight will be for Smith is the seemingly favourable opinion some judges have towards Alvarez's style of boxing. The September 2013 night he lost to Floyd Mayweather was in my opinion a boxing masterclass from the American. Two of the judges agreed but incredibly one saw fit to give Alvarez a draw. The split decision victory over Lara in 2014 was a close fight as 115-113 either way showed. The deciding card of 117-111 in Saul's favour looked too wide. The unanimous decision victory over Cotto featured scores of 118-110 and 119-109, again too lop-sided in my opinion. Even in his last outing against Amir Khan, Alvarez clearly struggled, especially in the first four rounds, with Khan's speed. Although he ended the fight with a huge one punch knockout in round 6, two of the judges had Alvarez winning the fight after the five fully completed rounds.
I am not suggesting anything suspect here, merely that Canelo's power orientated style seems to impress a good number of professional boxing judges.
Liam Smith and his team know how tough this fight will be, but it is also an opportunity for him to gate-crash the party at the high earning end of the boxing spectrum. If Smith can overcome Alvarez in one of the world's finest football arenas he will have the boxing world at his feet. Can ¨Beefy¨ Smith create a huge shock and emerge victorious from a Texan cauldron where so many factors are stacked against him? It would be a monumental victory for him if he can. We will find out on September 17.
Introduced to boxing by watching as a teenager with his Dad, Morrison really began to appreciate the sport during the Lennox Lewis era from the mid 1990s. Since those days he has developed into a passionate boxing fan, enjoying all styles of the fight game. His favourite fight is Barrera-Morales 1 and when time allows he enjoys travelling to attend big fights. Morrison began writing about the sport in July 2016. He hails from Scotland, United Kingdom where he lives with his wife and two children and can be found on Twitter @Morrie1981.