Callum Smith WILL be one of the toughest tests of Canelo Alvarez’s career

Callum Smith won’t ever change. He will still go about his daily business as usual and pop around his mum’s house for a cup of tea each week if he beats Canelo Alvarez, but he is under no illusions of how significant that would be.

Ever since that night of Arabian fantasy became reality for Smith, when he ground George Groves into a pile of dust in a faraway desert to win the WBA world title and with it super-middleweight supremacy, he has dreamt of taking the show to Las Vegas or Anfield, of competing in fights like the one he finds himself in on December 19.

This match-up had been on the cards for some time and as it turned out it was third time lucky that Canelo and Smith finally reached an agreement to do battle for the WBA and Ring Magazine super-middleweight titles.

Pound-for-pound star Canelo Alvarez challenges No 1 168lb fighter Callum Smith in December

Pound-for-pound star Canelo Alvarez challenges No 1 168lb fighter Callum Smith in December

Pound-for-pound star Canelo Alvarez challenges No 1 168lb fighter Callum Smith in December

Smith will put his WBA world title and Ring Magazine belt on the line against Canelo

Smith will put his WBA world title and Ring Magazine belt on the line against Canelo

Smith will put his WBA world title and Ring Magazine belt on the line against Canelo

After Canelo broke free from the Golden Boy and DAZN-stamped shackles, he immediately sought out the best opponent to announce his comeback.

He couldn’t have chosen much better. This is arguably the greatest test of his career bar Gennady Golovkin and Mayweather and there are few fights on the circuit right now with as much intrigue as this one. 

Canelo is the pound-for-pound king but he is up against a man who is in his prime years and dominant at the weight. 

Throw in the fact both men will have 12 month’s of ring rust to shake off, and this is one of those rare occasions where it can be classified as a genuine 50-50. 

Time will tell if that is generous on Smith but the feeling is if anyone is going to end Canelo’s reign at the top and join Floyd Mayweather as the only man to beat him, the Liverpudlian lad they call Mundo stands a good and legitimate chance.

But the best version of Smith will have to turn up. To get the better of Canelo, he will need to draw on every ounce of his skill and will.

Canelo knocked out bigger man Sergey Kovalev in his last fight just over a year ago

Canelo knocked out bigger man Sergey Kovalev in his last fight just over a year ago

Canelo knocked out bigger man Sergey Kovalev in his last fight just over a year ago

Smith has been craving for a big fight since beating George Groves to become world champ

Smith has been craving for a big fight since beating George Groves to become world champ

 Smith has been craving for a big fight since beating George Groves to become world champ

If the man who was fortunate to get the nod against a gallant John Ryder last November turns out, when he was hurt and cut, Canelo won’t even need to venture out of second gear. Perhaps it was that fight which reassured the Mexican he could beat him.

The worry for Smith is that he might still be a tad short of the big-fight experience – which Canelo has in abundance. The flipside to that is he will be the fresher fighter and can take comfort from the fact the last time he was on the big stage, he prevailed.

It has been a frustrating couple of years though for Smith since his dismantling of Groves. That victory signified the changing of the guard, it was the night he came of age, but his career has never really taken flight.  

But he knows victory against Canelo will explode his name into a different sphere of superstadom.

Although he has become world champion and is the No 1 ranked fighter at 168lb, there remains a nagging sense that Smith has more to give, that even at 30 he is perhaps not quite yet the finished product we were sold by Eddie Hearn when he first embarked on this journey.

This fight with Canelo is a shot at greatness and presents an opportunity like no other to dispel any of those doubts and fulfill his destiny. 

TALE OF THE TAPE: CANELO ALVAREZ VS CALLUM SMITH

CANELO

Fights: 56

Wins: 53

KOs: 36

Defeats: 1

Draws: 2

Stance: Orthodox

Height: 5′ 8″ / 173cm

Reach: 70½″ / 179cm

SMITH

Fights: 27

Wins: 27

KOs: 19

Defeats: 0

Draws: 0

Stance: Orthodox

Height: 6′ 3″ / 191cm

Reach: 78″ / 198cm

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Mexican sensation Canelo has experience on his side but will know he is in for a real fight

Mexican sensation Canelo has experience on his side but will know he is in for a real fight

Mexican sensation Canelo has experience on his side but will know he is in for a real fight

A huge advantage for the unbeaten Smith is the significant difference in height and reach. Smith is six inches taller and has an eight cm longer reach. 

Canelo has fought and won against bigger men before, most recently dethroning Sergey Kovalev. But Smith is not 37 and on his last legs.

Canelo will know this will be far from a walk in the park but is exuding the confidence of a man who has already won.

He has mentioned a potential super fight with Errol Spence Jr at a catchweight next and even set a time for an announcement about his upcoming fight earlier this week before his team and Smith had begun negotiating.

Imagine being that self-assured, knowing if you pick someone to be your opponent they would be mad to turn that opportunity down.

Even Smith said: ‘I thought that couldn’t be me when I saw it because I hadn’t agreed anything then. They made us an offer a few hours after he put that out but I wasn’t happy with it.

‘Thankfully we agreed to the fight in the end but even after I was still checking his Twitter to make sure it was me.’

Smith underperformed against John Ryder and will have to improve to defeat Canelo

Smith underperformed against John Ryder and will have to improve to defeat Canelo

Smith underperformed against John Ryder and will have to improve to defeat Canelo

The only defeat of Canelo's professional career came against Floyd Mayweather in 2013

The only defeat of Canelo's professional career came against Floyd Mayweather in 2013

The only defeat of Canelo’s professional career came against Floyd Mayweather in 2013

Smith will become the fifth Brit to challenge Canelo, after his brother Liam, Amir Khan, Ryan Rhodes and Rocky Fielding. The Mexican defeated them all. 

None of them can be knocked for their efforts but in truth they only ever had a crumb of hope of winning. Smith has much, much more than that.

He has the power and ability to at least ask questions of Canelo and is confident he and Joe Gallagher can get their tactics ‘spot on’ for this fight.

Smith will start as the underdog but that will mean little in his eyes. In regards to how significant an upset it would be, he said: ‘It depends on how you rate me. If you think I’m good you won’t be surprised. If you don rate me you’ll probably put this one up there.’

A modest way of putting it. 

There will be no shocks from his side though if he pulls it off.  

‘Canelo’s best days are at middle,’ he said. 

‘At 168lb I beat anybody. I’m the best in the world at this weight.’

We’ll soon find out. 

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