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Canelo Alvarez vs Callum Smith prediction, full fight preview

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Boxing: Canelo vs Kovalev Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Mexican combat sports superstar Canelo Alvarez makes his first appearance of 2020 this evening (Dec. 19, 2020), taking on world No. 1-ranked Super Middleweight, Callum Smith, in a bid for Smith’s WBA “Super” title and the vacant WBC belt.

MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE coverage of tonight’s main event right here. The DAZN-streamed broadcast (watch it here) kicks off at 8 p.m. ET, with Alvarez and Smith likely to make the walk closer to 11 p.m. ET.

Alvarez claimed the WBA “World” title with his 2018 knockout of Rocky Fielding, but Smith holds the primary version of that belt, meaning Alvarez’s claims of being a four-weight champion will hold considerably more, well, weight if he comes out victorious. “Mundo” doesn’t figure to make it easy, having established himself as the top dog at 168 pounds.

The evening was meant to feature Julio Cesar Martinez, one of the most entertaining men on the planet, defending his WBC Flyweight belt against Francisco Rodriguez Jr. Unfortunately, “Rey” was forced out with gastroenteritis, but you can still see several top prospects in action.

The main event, though, is the reason you’re here ...

Canelo Alvarez v Sergey Kovalev Photo by Steve Marcus/Getty Images

Saul “Canelo” Alvarez

Age: 30
Record: 53-1-2 (36 KO)
Last Five Fights: Sergey Kovalev (KO-11), Daniel Jacobs (UD), Rocky Fielding (TKO-3), Gennadiy Golovkin (MD), Gennadiy Golovkin (Split Draw)
Significant Victories (other than those mentioned above): Austin Trout, Erislandy Lara, Amir Khan, Liam Smith

VS.

Callum Smith v John Ryder - WBA World, WBC Diamond & Ring Magazine Super-Middleweight Title Fight Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Callum “Mundo” Smith

Age: 30
Record: 27-0 (19 KO)
Last Five Fights: John Ryder (UD), Hassan N’Dam (TKO-3), George Groves (KO-1), Nieky Holzken (UD), Erik Skoglund (UD)
Significant Victories (other than those mentioned above): Rocky Fielding


THE FIGHT

Had this fight been booked before Nov. 2019, it would have been seen as either a toss up or a favorable match up for Smith. Beyond being seven inches taller than Canelo and boasting a nearly eight-inch reach advantage, the Liverpool, England, native looked ferocious in his run through the World Boxing Super Series tournament, culminating in a knockout of dangerous countryman George Groves, and needed just three rounds to smash tough veteran Hassan N’Dam.

Then John Ryder happened.

“The Gorilla” legitimately earned his shot at Smith with a series of impressive knockouts, including a three-round smashing of Canelo sparring partner Bilal Akkawy, but his lack of height and reach seemingly made him easy pickings for the towering “Mundo.” Instead, Ryder consistently forced Smith to the ropes and seemingly did enough damage to score the upset, only for some truly rancid judging to snatch the win away from him.

Against another squat slugger like Canelo — who’s even more destructive on the inside than Ryder — Smith’s fate seems sealed. That said, it’s not quite so clear-cut.

Besides not being a southpaw like Ryder, it’s worth remembering how ineffectual Canelo was against Sergey Kovalev’s jab before he finally found an opening in the eleventh round. Smith’s got a piston of a jab, and that 78-inch reach means Canelo’s got a lot more ground to cover if he wants to get within biffing distance. If Smith can execute a similar sort of gameplan, victory is absolutely within reach.

Unfortunately for Smith, that “can” is doing a lot of work there. His lateral movement isn’t as sharp as Kovalev’s and, most important, he’s willing to slug it out at point-blank range, which plays directly into Canelo’s hands. I don’t trust Smith to play keep-away with that same level of effectiveness and I don’t think his ostensible power advantage is enough to keep him afloat in the pocket.

Smith could definitely nick some rounds if Canelo doesn’t press the issue with enough urgency, but he’s likely to end up in one too many close-range firefights to take the decision.

Prediction: Alvarez def. Smith via unanimous decision

MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE coverage of tonight’s main event right here. Remember: The DAZN-streamed broadcast (watch it here) kicks off at 8 p.m. ET, with Alvarez and Smith likely to make the walk closer to 11 p.m. ET.