The world asked for Golovkin and eventually will get their wish. For now, though, they and Canelo Alvarez will have to settle for Liam Smith.
In a surprising twist, Mexican Boxing superstar Saul “Canelo” Alvarez has returned to the 154-pound weight class for his next bout. Canelo will face WBO Junior Middleweight champion Liam Smith on September 17th in the main event of an HBO PPV card. The announcement was made on Friday by both Canelo’s promoter Golden Boy and Frank Warren who represents Smith:
— GoldenBoyPromotions (@GoldenBoyBoxing) June 24, 2016
Alvarez had been campaigning at a catchweight of 155 pounds since March of 2014 when he fought Alfredo Angulo. He won the middleweight title by defeating Miguel Cotto in November of 2015 but after being mandated by the WBC to defend the green belt against unified Middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin, Canelo back tracked.
A delay in the negotiations caused the WBC to allow both Alvarez and Golovkin to take mandatory fights before negotiating a bout in the second half of 2016. Golovkin fought fringe challenger Dominic Wade last April and won by 2nd round KO. Alvarez shocked the world by picking Amir Khan as his Cinco De Mayo opponent. But instead of getting the GGG fight done after mauling Amir Khan, Alvarez has decided to surprise the world again.
Alvarez vacated the WBC Middleweight title to remove the pressure of negotiating the Golovkin bout. But instead of getting it booked, Alvarez has chosen to go back to 154 pounds and fight for the WBO Junior Middleweight title instead. Golovkin is rumored to a bout with Chris Eubank Sr. while the Canelo-GGG bout is reportedly “agreed upon” for 2017. Whether that happens or not, it’s become Mayweather-Pacquiao all over again.
Fighting A Heavy Underdog
The opportunity now knocks for Liam Smith, who will be making the 3rd defense of his title but is an unknown commodity outside his country. Smith is unbeaten in 24 bouts with 13 KOs and one draw. He won the vacant WBO 154 pound title with a 7th round KO of American John Thompson in October of 2015. He’s since defended his title twice, beating unknowns Jimmy Kelly and Predrag Radosevic via knockout. Smith has fought exclusively in the United Kingdom throughout his career. The fight against Alvarez will be his first on U.S. soil.
As expected, Canelo opened as a -800 favorite to beat his relatively unknown foe. Smith is a heavy +600 underdog against the first true test of his boxing career. While we’ve seen some stranger things happen in boxing lately, not many are expecting Smith to challenge Alvarez at all. Canelo enters with just one loss and one draw on his record, but he hasn’t tasted defeat since losing to Floyd Mayweather Jr. in 2013. Not bad for an only loss.
Needless to say, Canelo has the youth, talent, prestige and venue all in his favor. He could possibly be a little distracted with a much bigger fight looming a year from now, but the odds look good that he’ll be dialed in and take care of business on September 17th.