May 7, 2019
May 7, 2019
Callum Smith

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CANELO ALVAREZ, according to his team, would love to fight Callum Smith at Wembley Stadium in the UK. For his part Smith, the WBA world champion at 168lbs, would welcome the Mexican superstar back to the super-middleweight division. The Liverpudlian will defend his title on June 1 at Madison Square Garden but will be quite ready to fight in September, if Alvarez is looking for an opponent, whether it’s in the USA or England.

“They’re the people I want to be associated with, they’re the fights I want to be involved in. That’s what I’m in boxing for, to fight at the highest level,” Smith told Boxing News.

To any boxer, Canelo represents the biggest fight they could secure. But for Smith it would be personal. He saw Alvarez knock out one of his older brothers, Liam Smith, in Texas in 2016. Now a formidable world champion in his own right Callum wants revenge. “Anyone from middleweight to light-heavyweight probably wants that [Alvarez] fight. If the fight was offered to you, it’s a fight I would love and a fight I would jump at,” he said. “It’s just me against Canelo if it does come off and I’d want to win just as much if it was against any other fighter.

“But after the [George] Groves fight it was nice to look back and I did get revenge for Paul [his eldest brother] and it would be nice to do it for Liam.”

Smith has been thinking about how he would fight Alvarez. “He definitely did slow from the first half of the fight [against Danny Jacobs]. Obviously he lacks a lot of height against the taller guys of the [super-middleweight] division but he’s obviously got the ability to make up for it. [Rocky] Fielding as much as he had the size advantage, he didn’t really have the ability to match him and he didn’t really have the gameplan to use inside. He kind of let Canelo walk up and close the gap pretty easy and let his shots off. Whereas I think when you’ve got that big a size advantage you’ve got to make someone work very hard to get inside and then nullify them when they do get inside,” Callum said. “Obviously I’ve got a massive size advantage, you’d be foolish not to try and use that. But again, you can’t just get in and run away from him for 12 rounds and expected to win the fight so I’m going to have to stand my ground and let some shots go at the same time. But it’s more a case of knowing when to and when not to.

“I want to be involved in big fights and at the minute there’s no bigger fight for me than Canelo.”

However his more immediate plans will see him in New York to box in June, with Hassan N’dam N’jikam his likely, but not yet confirmed, challenger. N’jikam was expecting to fight Gennady Golovkin on June 8 so will have been preparing for a top level opponent. Smith though did spar with him ahead of his world title fight against George Groves. “I know his style,” Smith said. “He’s coming off a big win himself over Martin Murray, he’s a good mover, he’s got good feet. I think he will move a lot and take me into the later rounds. I’ve just got to be prepared for that and make sure I cut the ring off well and land the shots when I do get the opportunities.”

Smith acknowledges N’jikam was a big help when they sparred. But adds, “Boxing’s a sport. I’ll still try to take his head off.”

Callum Smith

More likely than being able to snare the dreamed-for fight with Canelo, later on this year Smith could face his mandatory challenger, fellow Brit John Ryder. The Londoner impressed on Canelo’s undercard when he knocked out Bilal Akkawy in devastating fashion. Smith relishes an all-British showdown. “When he hurt [Akkawy], I thought he picked his shots pretty well. He looks more solid at super-middle than he did at middle,” Callum noted. “I’ll get June 1 out the way and see what fights come but with the position he’s in now he could end up being my mandatory, when that’s called I’m not too sure.

“He keeps getting better each fight. Full credit to him, I thought he looked really good at the weekend and picked his shots well. That will be a good fight.”