Callum Smith blew whatever chance he had of beating Canelo Alvarez last Saturday night with the calculated game plan of resting with his back against the ropes for the full 12 rounds of the fight at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas.
Callum looked nothing like a world champion. He was so awful that you couldn’t even call him a top 10 contender. Smith’s performance showed that George Groves must have been completely past it when he beat him in 2018.
Canelo (54-1-2, 36 KOs) took full advantage of the punching bag that he had in front of him in working the big hapless 6’3″ Smith (27-1, 19 KOs) with punches targeting his left upper arm arena.
The punches were aimed at taking away Smith’s primary weapon, his left hook, and it worked.
Smith suffered a detached left bicep, and he was limited to mostly throwing jabs with that arm during the fight.
Former super middleweight champion Joe Calzaghe and WBO 160-lb champ Demetrius Andrade sounded less than impressed with the performance from Callum Smith, talking about how he chose to fight with his back against the ropes.
Calzaghe would have never fought that kind of a game plan had he been in there with Canelo Alvarez, so it had to have been frustrating for him to watch Smith fight in such an amateurish manner.
As the WBA super middleweight champion, a lot more was expected of Smith than what he showed. Moreover, Smith had been built up all week by Matchroom Boxing promoter Eddie Hearn and Canelo Alvarez as the #1 fighter in the 168-lb division.
What we saw from Smith was a fighter that was badly overhyped, and perhaps no better than a bottom 10-level super middleweight.
In watching Callum’s performance, you’d have to assume that he would lose to all of these fighters:
- John Ryder
- Billy Joe Saunders
- David Benavidez
- Caleb Plant
- Daniel Jacobs
- Fedor Chudinov
- Gabe Rosado
- Anthony Dirrell
- Edgar Berlanga
- David Morrell
- Bektemir Melikuziev
Now you know why Canelo was so eager to fight Callum Smith. With his eagle-eyes, Alvarez saw a major weakness in Smith that made him want to fight him. When Canelo sees weakness, he goes after them.
Callum Smith wasted his chance
“He looked great; he established his jab early on and started throwing shots to the body and got his respect and really outclassed him tonight,” said Demetrius Andrade to DAZN on Canelo’s performance.
“He’s [Canelo] doing things; he’s a four-division world champion and a pound-for-pound guy. I’m not going to say he is the top pound-for-pound guy yet because he hasn’t fought all the top guys yet like myself.
“Caleb Plant is out there. Let’s go, Canelo. I’m not going to sit there and go to the ropes [like Callum Smith] and not throw punches. I’m going to fight Canelo all day.
If Demetrius Andrade fought Canelo, he wouldn’t fight in a dumb manner like Callum Smith because he knows what would happen if he covered up on the ropes.
Smith was just shockingly ill-prepared for this fight, and it’s embarrassing that his trainer Joe Gallagher wasn’t ordering him to stay off the ropes.
As trainer worth their salt would have read Smith the riot act with him choosing to cover up against the ropes round after round.
Unfortunately, this wasn’t the first time Callum Smith had spent an entire fight covering up against the ropes.
He did the same thing in his previous match against John Ryder in November 2019, and he barely escaped with a 12 round decision win in that fight. This writer had Ryder beating Callum by a 116-112 score.
Canelo was just an opportunist in moving to 168 to take advantage of all the weak champions in this division. Rocky Fielding was the worst of the bunch, and Canelo made it easy beating him.
Now, Canelo has picked arguably the second-worst in Callum Smith. In Alvarez’s next fight, he’ll dethrone the third poorest champion in Billy Joe Saunders, and end by taking on the best of the mediocre bunch in Caleb Plant.
Right now, there are a handful of contenders at 168 that are much better fighters than any of the champions, and that includes Canelo.
David Benavidez, Edgar Berlanga, and Bektemir Melikuziev beat Canelo. The Mexican star isn’t going to fight them, though, so he’s safe.
Canelo needs to fight other top guys
“It’s a different fight, but he needs to get in there with the rest of the super middleweight division,” said Andrade. “They did a great job of moving him, Golden Boy Promotions.
“He has had a lot of gimme fights, but of course, you’ve got to fight someone sooner or later. He’s fighting these guys at the right time. What is Lara? All credit to Canelo for fighting GGG.
“Like I said, you have to fight someone eventually, and he did that, yes. He’s the pound-for-guy, yes, but there are other guys out there too that have great talent that’s not going just to sit there and go on the ropes all night.
“I’m not doing that. Yes, Canelo has fought good fighters. We all know that. We’re not sitting here knocking it. We’re just saying there are other guys out there.
“He fought real guys in their prime, and he fought Sugar Shane Mosley, Miguel Cotto. How old were these guys when they were on their way out? Rocky Fielding.
“Ricky Hatton’s younger brother [Matthew Hatton]. Austin Trout was a good fighter, but he is not the best. I was one of the best at 154, so how come I never got a Canelo fight.
“All I’m saying is Canelo is the man; he’s doing a great job; other people are trying to make it happen,” said Andrade.
In a perfect world, Canelo would fight Demetrius Andrade, Berlanga, David Benavidez. and Bektemir Melikuziev to show he’s the best at 168, but not in this one.
Canelo is shooting for his superficial goals of beating all the current paper champions at 168 and then gloating afterward about his empty achievement.
Calzaghe: Canelo made Callum pay on the ropes
“Very impressive, and his defense is tremendous,” said Joe Calzaghe of Canelo. “You’ve got to throw five or six punches to land one punch against him.
“The way he holds his hands, there’s little slips and little slides; he just makes fighters look average. It was a tremendous fight, and he’s getting better and better, and he’s punching hard.
“Callum Smith was against the ropes, and he was making him pay every time. He was going with the looping hooks around the side, punishing uppercuts, and I have to say my heart goes out to Callum Smith.
“What heart he put into it. He’ll come back again. Every champion wants to go 12 rounds.
“Nobody wants to go out. We want to go out on our shields, so he’s a champion. He lost to a pound-for-pound great; there’s no shame in that.
“Just go have a good time, relax and come back refreshed, and hopefully, you’ll be a champion again sometime,” said Calzaghe in talking about Callum.
You could hear the disappointment in Calzaghe’s voice when he spoke about Callum fighting with his back against the ropes. Everything that Smith in the fight was completely the opposite of what Calzaghe would have done had he been in with Canelo.
If you’re Smith, you need someone like Calzaghe to train him if he’s going to turn around his wrecked career.
Smith suffered a detached bicep
“Callum didn’t want to make an excuse, and I give him credit for that, but you can see the redness on that arm,” said Chris Mannix.
“Eddie Hearn told me after I did the interview, he believes Callum detached his bicep at some point in the fight. Eddie made it clear; it probably didn’t matter.
“Canelo Alvarez won this fight going away. He was masterful in his performance. Something tells me in the next couple of days, you’ll hear about Callum Smith being on the shelf for a little while.
“He is unquestionably the # 1 pound-for-pound guy in boxing right now,” Mannix said of Canelo. “He has the best resume of anyone in boxing. Erislandy Lara was not a gimme fight, Gennadiy Golovkin twice was not a gimme fight.”
“Callum Smith did things in moments were against almost any fighter in the world, he would have had more success,” said Brian Kenny.
“I forget what round it was where he [Smith] landed two shots, and then he went for a kill shot with a hook, and now Canelo wasn’t there. Canelo is smart; he’s clever, just as Callum said.
“He’s got excellent defense, and Canelo was just not there for Callum to take opportunities to hurt him. Canelo just doesn’t allow that. Conversely, Canelo was hurting you all the time,” said Kenny.
It’s not hard to understand how and why Smith suffered a left bicep injury last Saturday night.
He was covering up like a dutiful sparring partner for 12 rounds against Canelo, giving the Mexican star some work but not pushing him in any way by taking the fight to the center of the ring.
Smith was like a dummy perched against the ropes with a “hit me” sign on him. When you think about the great British fighters in the past like Calzaghe, Nigel Benn, and Chris Eubank, they had to have been furious in watching the tactics from Smith.
Would Nigel Benn and Eubank have sent an entire title fight with their back against the ropes?
Canelo’s speed more important than power
“That’s why I tell everybody that power isn’t intimidating like speed like defense,” said Sergio Mora. “Power is great to look at, it knocks everybody out, but power punchers fear speed and fear someone that knows how to box.
“Look at the first thing that came out of Callum Smith’s mouth. ‘He’s smart; he’s deceptive, he sets traps.’ He didn’t say he hits hard; he didn’t say he hurt me. He just said he’s smart and deceptive. That’s what makes Canelo dangerous aside from the power and speed,” said Mora.
“Canelo does all his talking in the ring; he doesn’t his talking with his fists. That’s the #1 fighter on the planet. That’s as close as you get to greatness, Chavez, and Canelo.
“I thought Canelo looked great in this fight,” Kenny added. “Look at how swollen that left arm is [for Callum]. He just got whacked on that arm throughout the fight.”
“I said that during the telecast that he’s not going to be able to move his arm tomorrow because I’ve been there before,” Mora said of Callum Smith. “His back is going to be hurting, his ribs, his arms. I’ve never seen that.”
“I don’t know if I’ve never seen,” Kenny said of Smith. “I think he’s going to feel that tomorrow. It’s going to last. I give a lot of credit to Callum Smith; he tried.
“Canelo just wouldn’t allow it. All throughout the fight, there was constant applied intelligent pressure from the super middleweight champion.
“He tried, but he couldn’t be his brother’s keeper,” said Mora of Callum. “We saw Liam [Smith] get knocked out brutally to the body, and we saw Callum get hurt tot the body.
“But he wasn’t going anywhere because not only did the size help him, but his heart. He does have a big, big heart.”
“We’ll see him, and perhaps he’ll go up to 175 pounds,” said Kenny of Callum.
Canelo’s speed is overrated, to be honest. The reason Alvarez won the fight wasn’t because of his hand speed advantage. It was because he had a guy in there that had no clue how to fight, and made Callum’s lack of skills even worse was his dreadful decision-making to fight on the ropes.
At this point, Smith needs to dump his trainer and find someone that is a little more assertive and willing to slap him around in between rounds to get him to wake up and start using his brain. It was such an awful performance by Callum. No words can adequately describe how pathetic Callum was against Canelo.