The first time Canelo Alvarez stood across from his next opponent earlier this week at the press conference to hype up Saturday’s return against WBA super middleweight champion Smith, it was hard to overlook just how tall of a challenge this was for the Mexican superstar.
The pun in this case was intentional for Alvarez (53-1-2, 36 KOs), the reigning pound-for-pound king, who was giving up no shortage of seven inches in height to the 6-foot-3 Smith (27-0, 19 KOs) when the two stared deeply into each other’s eyes as the flashes of nearby cameras clicked on and off around them.
The 30-year-old Smith, a native of England and the youngest of four pro boxers as brothers, is nothing to be taken lightly as an opponent. He has power, size and hunger. He also fits in nicely onto Alvarez’s resume given how routinely difficult he matches himself despite holding so much leverage as the sport’s biggest star.
So when the photos of the height disparity between the two flooded the internet just days out from Saturday’s bout (8 p.m. ET on DAZN, sign up now) inside the Alamodome in San Antonio, it was only natural to wonder whether Alvarez had bitten off more than he could chew.
Not only is Alvarez, 30, looking to unify the WBA title at 168 pounds after previously holding the governing bodies’ secondary belt, the two fighters will also be competing for the WBC title that was vacated after David Benavidez missed weight for a title defense earlier this year. Yet he was far from concerned when asked about how he will overcome the height difference.
“We knew about his height and we also knew about his qualities, but I have the boxing experience that’s needed and we have prepared for it,” Alvarez told “Morning Kombat” on Wednesday.
Smith’s advantage, of course, only becomes one if he uses it by keeping Alvarez on the outside of his jab and preventing the same kind of vicious body attack Alvarez once used to finish Smith’s older brother Liam during their 2016 title bout at 154 pounds.
“We will have to wait and see,” Smith told CBS Sports last week. “Obviously, I have to try and use every one of my advantages as much as possible. There’s no use having a seven-inch height advantage if I didn’t use it.
“At the highest level, a lot of it can change as the fight goes on. Some of it will be at close quarters and some of it will be at distance. I just have to be prepared for whatever Canelo Alvarez turns up. I have to have a good game plan and pull it off at night. I believe that Dec. 20 I will wake up still a champion.”
Asked whether he would target Smith’s other two brothers or any extended family members next should he get past Callum this weekend, Alvarez let out a rare chuckle