It’s a blockbuster end of the year for the sport, as the consensus pound for pound number one takes centre stage as Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez (53-1-2, KO36) makes his first appearance of 2020.
The Mexican has been bouncing up and down the weights, and comes back down from his last fight to challenge Callum Smith (27-0, KO19) with the Liverpudlian’s WBA (Super) and Ring Magazine Super Middleweight crowns on the line, as well as the vacant WBC title.
Alvarez’s last three fights have taken place at Super Middle, Middle, and Light Heavyweight, in an attempt to cement his legacy, which has long been assured.
The Guadalajara native turned professional at just 15 in 2005. He built a solid record, and then made a statement in America, knocking former world champion Carlos Baldomir in six in 2010, and widely outpointing Lovemore N’Dou to set up a shot at the vacant WBC Super Welterweight title in March 2010.
He widely outscored the much smaller Matthew Hatton in Anaheim, and would go on defend six times and unify, before running into the wily Floyd Mayweather in September 2013.
It was a majority decision win for ‘Money’ but in truth he dealt Alvarez a lesson, and it remains Saul’s sole pro defeat.
A world title at Middleweight was followed by a drop back down to take Liam Smith’s WBO 154 pound title in 2016, and he jumped back up to Middleweight to fight Gennady Golovkin to a draw almost a year later.
After controversy over a failed drug test, the rematch saw Alvarez take the spoils via majority verdict.
The legacy fights were the plan going forward as part of a multi million dollar deal with DAZN, and first up came the WBA Super Middleweight crown, which he gained by ruthlessly stopping Rocky Fielding in three in New York.
Next, Canelo moved back down to Middleweight, adding the IBF belt to his WBC and WBA (Super) titles with an entertaining points win over Daniel Jacobs.
We last saw Alvarez in November 2019, when he added the WBO Light Heavyweight strap to his collection in a thriller with Sergey Kovalev.
The Russian gave as good as he got, and it was tight on the cards until Canelo ended matters with an eleventh round knockout.
In Callum Smith, Alvarez should have his hands full in Texas. ‘Mundo’ though, will have a question mark on his head after a poor performance last time out against John Ryder.
A professional since 2012, Smith has proved to be the cream of his sporting brother’s crop, and the 30-year-old has realised his massive potential.
This began at the World Boxing Super Series, where he took points wins against Erik Skoglund and Nieky Holzken to reach the final.
There, he began as second favourite to George Groves in Saudi Arabia, but took over in the second half to halt ‘The Saint’ in seven, with the Londoner unable to recover from a body shot and a follow up barrage.
Smith was rewarded with the WBA (Super) title, as well as WBC Diamond and Ring Magazine baubles, and the Muhammad Ali Trophy.
That was in September 2018, and it would be nine more months before Smith could build on his breakout win, and he powered past Hasan N’Dam N’Jikam in three in New York in June 2019.
Last time out, in November 2019, Smith took on what looked a routine assignment on paper, but he struggled against John Ryder, and many felt the Londoner was unfortunate to not take the decision, as Smith won by way too wide amounts on the cards.
He will need to be at his absolute apex to pull off what would be a massive upset against Alvarez.
Prediction: This is a mammoth task for Smith, but he is tall, rangy, and awkward to deal with, and that can only be in his favour against Alvarez.
Canelo always manages to look twice the size of his opponent on fight night, and he will need physical advantages to keep Smith at bay.
Smith will look to start brightly, and gain the Mexican’s respect, and I expect him to be well in the argument coming down the stretch, before Alvarez pulls away to take a clear points win.
The undercard has been hampered by another withdrawal from WBC Flyweight champion, Julio Cesar Martinez, and, at the time of writing, the preliminaries are littered with prospects, and no world title fights to speak of.
After 17 national, and two world titles as an amateur, Marc Castro makes his professional debut on this card in a four round Super Featherweight attraction.
The eight rounder comes at Welterweight, where Christian Alan Gomez Duran (18-2-1, KO16) meets the durable Angel Hernandez (17-15-2, KO11).
Hernandez hasn’t been stopped in fifteen defeats, and although Duran carries power, I see this going the distance in Duran’s favour.
Heading the six rounders on the bill, Raymond Ford (7-0, KO3) takes on Robert Greenwood (5-0, KO2) at Featherweight. Ford has the much better pedigree, and should be able to halt Greenwood in around three or four frames.
At Middleweight Austin ‘Ammo’ Williams (6-0, KO5) may need the scorecards to defeat Isiah Jones (9-3, KO3) who hasn’t previously been stopped.
At Super Middle, Alex Espino (6-0, KO4) shouldn’t have too much trouble with Ashton Sykes (5-3, KO1), and can score an inside schedule win.
At Featherweight, Alexis Eduardo Molina (8-0, KO5) goes for win number nine.