Alvarez scored a points victory over Liverpool’s Smith to add WBA and WBC super-middleweight titles to his collection
A masterful Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez exerted utter dominance over Callum Smith to claim the WBA and WBC super-middleweight titles by unanimous decision in San Antonio, Texas. After a relentless onslaught from the Mexican, Smith admitted that he was “devastated” and hinted at a move up to light heavyweight after a first career defeat.
‘Canelo’, widely regarded as the No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter in the sport, was awarded the world championship bout 119-109 by two judges and 117-111 by the third. He adds the No. 1 position in the 12st division to world titles in three other weight divisions – light middleweight, middleweight and light heavyweight. What was striking about this performance was the skilfulness from the 30-year-old in both defence and attack against an opponent with a seven-inch height advantage and an eight-inch reach advantage.
The flame-haired fighter punctuated attack and defence as he moved cleverly into range, at times, and certainly for the last third of the contest, stalking his foe and unleashing vicious assaults.
Smith suggested he will regroup and move his 6ft3 frame up to light heavyweight after his first career loss in his 28th fight.
“I’m devastated. I never wanted to lose, I came here to win. It wasn’t my night,” he said. “I don’t feel as dominant at 168 as I used to be. It could have been a better version of me tonight… he performed and was the better man.”
Indeed, the plaudits must go to Alvarez, who moved to 54 victories, two draws and a single defeat – against defensive genius Floyd Mayweather Jr seven years ago. But for a cagey opening three rounds, when the two protagonists looked for the ascendancy, ‘Canelo’ bossed the battle, edging into range and bullying his way to victory. He used his precision, poise and power to deliver a masterclass as the rounds wore on. Smith soaked up huge punishment as the Mexican unloaded his armoury and slipped many of the punches that came back from the Liverpudlian.
When Smith did press forward, his salvos simply bounced off his opponent. Smith was urged on at ringside by his three brothers, Paul, Stephen and Liam, all of whom have challenged for world title honours. Liam fought ‘Canelo’ in 2016 and was stopped in the ninth round. To his credit, Smith might have been outclassed, outfought and outmanoeuvred but he never submitted, showing huge reserves of grit, determination and heart, having been given notice of the fight just four weeks ago.
Former two-weight world champion Joe Calzaghe, who reigned undefeated in the 12st division for over ten years, hailed ‘Canelo’ as “a brilliant fighter, and the No. 1 pound-for-pound in the world for a reason”.
Calzaghe was impressed with not only the offensive skills of the man from Guadalajara, but his defensive nous. “The way he slipped Smith’s punches with clever side to side movement was key to his attacks,” Calzaghe, working as an analyst on the DAZN broadcast, told Telegraph Sport “He will go on to be one of the greats.”
‘Canelo’ said afterwards that he had “respect” for Smith, added: “This was one of my best performances. One of the greatest nights I’ve had and I will go for more. My short-term goal is to unify all the titles at 168 pounds.”