At least one common opponent between Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez and John Ryder does not foresee an upset this weekend.
Callum Smith does not have a vested interest in this weekend’s undisputed super middleweight championship beyond having faced Guadalajara’s Alvarez and London’s Ryder, in fact in back-to-back fights. The Liverpool native and former WBA super middleweight titlist will be an interested observer as a fan of the sport and will naturally root for his countryman to pull off an improbable victory on the road this Saturday in Zapopan, Mexico.
He just can’t bring himself to predict that outcome or envision such a scenario.
“To be honest, no I don’t think he does,” Smith admitted to BoxingScene.com when asked of Ryder’s chances. “I think stylistically, it’s not a bad matchup for Canelo. I hope I’m wrong, I do wish [Ryder] well. But I do think Canelo is going in with something to prove. He’s still got the loss to Bivol and the win he got against that version of Triple G (Gennadiy Golovkin].
“Canelo didn’t really get the plaudits he expected in the third Triple G fight. Their first two fights were exciting, this last one wasn’t really memorable. So, between that and the loss to Dmitry Bivol, I feel he’s going into the Ryder fight with something to prove.”
Smith (29-1, 21KOs) suffered his lone career defeat to Alvarez in their December 2020 WBA super middleweight title consolidation bout. It was his last fight at the weight, which came 13 months after his second and final successful title defense—a completive and disputed twelve-round, unanimous decision victory over Ryder (32-5, 18KOs) in their November 2019 clash in Smith’s Liverpool hometown.
Ryder has won four in a row since their all-UK clash. His current run includes a twelve-round decision over Daniel Jacobs—the only fighter to have lost to both Ryder and Alvarez—and a fifth-round, injury stoppage over countryman Zach Parker to win the interim WBO super middleweight title last November 26 in London.
At just 5’9”, Ryder—a 34-year-old southpaw from Islington, London—is normally accustomed to being the smaller man when competing in or above the super middleweight division.
The same applies to the 5’8” Alvarez.
“What makes John awkward is how short and compact he is for the weight,” noted the 6’3” Smith, who is the current WBC mandatory challenger to—and in negotiations with—unified light heavyweight champion Artur Beterbiev. “He’s not the biggest puncher or the fastest. He’s defensively just okay. He kind of smothers your work and is just okay at that range.
“None of that really factors into fighting Canelo. He’s not the shorter guy, he’s actually an inch or two taller. So, he loses what is normally an advantage for him in other fights. Canelo won’t have to work hard to find him.”
Alvarez is a -1600 favorite according to bet365 to emerge victorious in his first fight on home soil in more than eleven years. The same sportsbook lists the four-division and reigning, fully unified super middleweight king as a -300 favorite to win inside the distance, while it lists Ryder (32-5, 18KOs) as a +1400 to win by knockout or disqualification and +750 to win by any means.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox