Without a doubt, the main event of the weekend is the match-up between Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez and Callum Smith for two of the titles in the super middleweight division in the early hours of Sunday morning.
On Friday night, Gennady Golovkin starts his second reign as middleweight champ defending his belt against Kamil Szeremeta. And there’s a feast of other fights across the weekend too.
4AM SUNDAY: CANELO ALVAREZ V CALLUM SMITH
In boxing, the champion’s name always goes first – unless the other guy is called Canelo Alvarez. Smith is bringing one belt to the ring in San Antonio and there’s another vacant title in the mix, as the noble art’s VIP looks to take over another division.
In his last eight bouts, Canelo has slipped from middleweight down to super welter, back up to middle, and then beefed-up all the way to light heavy via super middle. That run included stellar wins against the unbeaten power punching duo of Golovkin and Sergey Kovalev – widely regarded as the best 160 and 175-pounders in the world at the time.
The Mexican marvel has now won legitimate titles in three divisions but he’s yet to win one at super middleweight. Once again, Alvarez is facing the man many believe to be the best in his weight class. Smith won his strap from George Groves in 2018 with a stunning seventh-round stoppage and he’s defended it twice. The unbeaten man from Merseyside will tower over Alvarez by a full seven inches, but the height disparity is almost dwarfed by the odds for Smith to get a win this weekend.
The most recent fights for both men are the most relevant to this one. Last year, Canelo stopped the much taller Kovalev in the 11th round after struggling slightly to close the distance on the rangy Russian. Only a few days later, Smith won a close controversial decision against stocky, inside-fighter John Ryder.
The results are an ominous sign for Callum and it isn’t helped that Smith’s other stand-out wins have asterisks next to them: Groves rushed back from injury to face ‘Mundo’ for a big pay-day, and former champ Hassan N’Dam N’Jikam was a 35-year-old career middleweight when Smith dealt with him.
Smith has skills, power and the experience of helping his brother prepare for Alvarez but, like Liam, I think he’ll come up short.
The judges won’t do a Brit abroad any favours and Smith’s team will know that – I think he’ll try to be busy and keep Canelo at the end of his long combinations, however, when Smith is throwing shots Canelo will use his incredible upper body movement to get inside and work over Callum’s long torso. By the late rounds I expect Smith to be a beaten man.
Bet of the bout: Alvarez in rounds 9-12
3AM SATURDAY: GENNADY GOLOVKIN V KAMIL SZEREMETA
Canelo’s arch-rival has been Golovkin, and the Kazakh is desperate for the chance to right the wrongs the ginger Guadalajan and the Las Vegas judges have put on his record. In 42 professional fights, Alvarez is still the only man to take a result off the champ, but this weekend in Florida it’s the chance for Szeremeta to take a shot.
The Pole, 31, is unbeaten in 21 contests but on closer inspection his record is paper-thin. Szeremeta has only managed to stop five opponents and some of the men that have taken Kam the distance have been sparked out by English area-level boxers. ‘GGG’, 38, is a middleweight great but he’s clocked up more miles than a delivery driver at Christmas. The reflexes are slowing and the feet don’t cut off the ring quite as quickly as before, but the man with 35 KOs in 40 fights still has the power.
Guys like Szeremeta didn’t get past four rounds with a prime Golovkin, but even with the 14 months of ring-rust, I expect ‘Triple G’ to get this done in double-quick time. The real problem for Szeremeta is that he trundles forward and after the first couple of rounds he gets even slower – anyone standing in front of Golovkin is asking to get flattened
Bet of the bout: Golovkin in rounds 1-4.
BEST OF THE REST
- On Friday night in Redditch, Shakan Pitters will be too slick and too long for Craig Richards in their British light heavy bout, so back Pitters on decision
- London’s John Ryder features on the undercard of Golovkin and he should be another winner on points this Friday against Mike Guy
- And finally, Congolese cruiserweight champ and former Tony Bellew opponent, Ilunga Makabu, can win inside 6 rounds on Saturday against Olanrewaju Durodola.