HAVING suffered his first professional loss in September, Liam Smith no longer holds a world title. However the former WBO super-welter ruler lost to one of the best – and most famous – fighters around in Canelo Alvarez, out in Arlington, Texas. A few weeks on, Boxing News caught up with the affable Liverpudlian to discuss the fight and his future plans.
Looking back, what’s your take on the fight?
The whole experience was invaluable for me and it’ll stand me in good stead, but I still look back and it’s a bitter pill to swallow. I’m not a sore loser but I’m going to honest, it was my biggest fight and my biggest challenge and it was also the worst camp I’ve ever had. I’ve got to take pluses from the shape we got in, I was as fit as I could possibly be and I got in very good shape considering the little things that went wrong in camp. The cut that opened on my forehead was the cut that came five weeks before the fight, in hindsight maybe I should’ve pulled out, I was champion, but there’s too much fighter in me. The cut in general didn’t bother me, it was the consequences of it. Missing sparring, with that I missed all the timing I usually have and as a fighter you don’t know that until you get in the ring, I was sharp on the pads and everything, but you can’t beat sparring. In round two I thought ‘my timing’s not here.’
Do you regret not pulling out of the fight?
I wouldn’t say I have regrets, it’s just hard to swallow. If I was offered the rematch tomorrow I’d take it, I know people will laugh at that but I’d take it. The type of fight I wanted, I got, but I just never capitalised. That’s not to say I’d have won if I had my timing because I don’t know. Believe me, I know I had success but I would have had a lot more success [if the timing was there] and the positions I was in, I know I could’ve capitalised more than I did. One thing I know I have – ask any of my coaches or sparring partners – is good timing and variety, and that’s what I didn’t have on my biggest night to date. I felt like a shot fighter, as in every time I’ve been told about a shot fighter, the shots are there but you can’t throw them. I could see shots but I couldn’t throw them.
So he was in positions where you felt you could catch him.
Absolutely, but it wasn’t my night and maybe it was never meant to be my night. Maybe I wasn’t ready for it just yet. I know, in that fight, he was blowing and letting me get him into the positions I wanted. He didn’t budge me within six rounds, but I stand up for round seven thinking it’s 4-2, 5-1 at worst [on the cards] and the minute I go in thinking I can take over, I get dropped off a head shot. ‘For f***s sake.’ And he gets a second wind.
What did you make of Canelo as a fighter?
He was exactly as I expected. He’s a very good fighter, one that I still think I could mix with, one that I’d never look out of my depth with. I don’t think I looked that out of my depth in the fight, I don’t think the commentators did me justice though. I know the success I had and how far off my game I was that night, I know I can compete at that level and I can compete with Canelo Alvarez. He’s a very good fighter. He was also very confident to let off his shots because he’s been at that level, I was a little more safety first. He’s not a massive, massive puncher, he’s a solid puncher – which probably sounds a bit hypocritical as I got stopped. He’s a good fighter, a good person as well.
What did you take from the event as a whole and fight week?
You’ll see in my next fight what I took from it, I milked every moment of it. I walked to the ring with 50,000 Mexicans throwing flags in my face. It didn’t get me a bit. The media were made up with me, I handled it great. Canelo’s been and done it before so he was moaning at times, like when we had to keep doing the head to head for the cameras, but this was my first taste so I was fine with everything, and HBO were very grateful. I take pluses from it, but again, I’m not happy to lose.
So what’s next, when are you next out?
I want anything that’ll get me to that world title again. People have a bit of a hard on for Liam Williams. If he comes through the [Ahmet] Patterson fight, I’ll take that fight no problem. He’s had two [British title] defences, I’ve had two so the winner can hold it outright. There’s a high WBO ranking as well so Frank could push to make it an eliminator. If he’s going to take any of my opportunities I’ll fight him tomorrow. I’m still top dog in Britain, no one can question that and no one better question that because I’ll prove it. I know the big names aren’t fighting until next year. I’d love those big names, the [Miguel] Cotto fight, Kell Brook, Amir Khan if they fight at 154lbs.
This interview was originally published in the November 3 issue of Boxing News magazine. To subscribe, click here.