Callum Smith deemed the recent press conference exchange between Canelo Alvarez and Caleb Plant as a microcosm of what makes the Mexican icon boxing’s best fighter, pound-for-pound.
Alvarez’s ability to slip Plant’s surprising swipe and rapidly fire back with a combination was an indication, according to Smith, of what’s to come November 6 in Las Vegas. More than anything, Smith was frustrated by his inability to catch Alvarez clean during their 12-round, 168-pound championship match December 19 in San Antonio.
England’s Smith appreciated Alvarez’s skills before they fought. The four-division champion’s performance nine months ago at Alamodome only cemented Smith’s opinion of the only opponent to beat him.
“He’s a special fighter,” Smith told IFL TV recently. “I knew before getting in with him how good he was. You know, in my opinion, he’s the best fighter in the world, pound-for-pound, at the moment. I believe stylistically, I could’ve beat him, I could’ve caused him trouble. But he was too good on the night. He was very clever. He was smart and, as I said, I knew how good he was going in there.
“So, like not a lot surprised me, apart from how hard he was to hit clean, his defensive ability. I think we’ve seen it [last week] with the Caleb Plant slap, his reaction to get out of the way. And he’s so hard to hit clean, which takes away your offense and your kinda fighting his fight. But yeah, look, he was good. He’s a very good fighter and I think he’ll go on and achieve more.”
Alvarez beat Smith by huge margins on all three scorecards (119-109, 119-109, 117-111) to win the WBA belt from Smith and the then-vacant WBC crown.
Smith (28-2, 20 KOs) bounced back from his one-sided defeat to Alvarez by viciously knocking out Dominican veteran Lenin Castillo (21-4-1, 16 KOs) in the second round Saturday night on the Anthony Joshua-Oleksandr Usyk undercard at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London. A right hand by Smith knocked Castillo unconscious and emphatically ended their scheduled 10-rounder.
While Smith is focused on earning a light heavyweight title shot, the former WBA super middleweight champ expects Alvarez (56-1-2, 38 KOs) to become boxing’s first fully unified 168-pound champion by beating Plant (21-0, 12 KOs) in their Showtime Pay-Per-View main event November 6 at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
Liverpool’s Smith gave their unofficial first round to the favored Alvarez after he landed a short left on the inside that dug Plant’s sunglasses into his skin and opened a cut beneath his right eye during their press conference September 21 in Beverly Hills, California.
“Look, it makes for a good buildup,” Smith said. “I think it kinda got everyone talking about that fight after the press conference to announce it. So, I think it’s probably, it’s played its part. It’s got a lot of people talking about the fight. And rightly so – it’s an undisputed title fight. It deserves, you know, all the people watching. But it’s a fight I do believe Canelo wins.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.