Liam Smith fights outside of the UK for the first time to defend his WBO super-welterweight championship against Saul 'Canelo' Alvarez at the AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas on Saturday 17 September.
Where to watch
Smith vs Canelo is available live on BoxNation. UK viewers will have to stay up until the early hours of Sunday morning for this one, as ring walks are expected at around 2am.
Alvarez put a firm stop to the last Briton looking to knock him off his middleweight perch, providing one of the most iconic knockouts of 2016 when he stopped Amir Khan in the sixth round last May.
That knockout in Las Vegas looked at the time to be an exciting precursor to a showdown with Gennady Golovkin.
The Kazakh fighter was the mandatory challenger for Alvarez's WBC middleweight title and had been waiting almost two years for the chance to unify the division.
But, as it so often goes in boxing, things didn't go to plan. The WBC urged the Mexican to decide on a date or be stripped of his title. He opted for the latter, insisting he would not bow down to "artificial deadlines" set by the governing body when it comes to negotiating the fight he wants.
Alvarez's once-fearsome reputation took a decisive blow, as many viewed this is as him simply ducking Golovkin's challenge and passing on what would undoubtedly been the biggest fight of 2016.
It was instead Kell Brook who took the fight so many have shirked, stepping up two divisions to try and topple 34-year-old Golovkin. His reward was a fifth round TKO and a broken eye socket.
There is the feeling that whatever Canelo does, he won't be able to avoid Golovkin forever. Liam Smith is is his immediate priority, however. Having won the vacant WBO title in October 2015, the Liverpudlian has successfully defended his belt against Jimmy Kelly and Predrag Radosevic in Manchester and Liverpool respectively and boasts a flawless professional record.
But Saturday is a totally different proposition. At the AT&T in front of a possible crowd of up to 60,000, the majority of whom will be behind the challenger, it will be a different world. Smith, 28, has never fought anyone approaching the calibre of Alavrez.
Unlike Khan, whose defeat to Canelo proved he is no middleweight, Smith boats a similar style to Alavrez, and while he may lack the finesse and strength of the 26-year-old, he is a fully fledged super-welterweight built to go the distance. While the Mexican took the easy way out in avoiding Golovkin, Smith can take heart knowing a win tonight will transform his life.
What they have said
Smith: "This is the fight that if I could pick a style of a fighter, it would be similar to Canelo's style. I always wanted a Canelo fight, a Cotto fight. A style like that is what I prefer to fight. This fight can only be a great fight. There's no way the styles will make a bad fight.
"They gel well, and this is a fight, again, you're going to see me smile in. Because I smile even when it's not going my way. I'm not going to not smile because I'm not winning. I'll smile because I enjoy every minute of this fight. Canelo and this fight is right up my street style wise."
Canelo: "Just because he's not well-known doesn't mean he's not tough. He's a tough rival. Thank God we know that he's a tough rival. We know what he brings. That's why we are preparing very well for whatever he presents in the ring and there won't be any surprises." [via FightHype]
Smith: 24 fights, 23 wind (13 via knockout), 1 draw, 0 defeats
(W) Predrag Radosevic – knockout – June 2016
(W) Jimmy Kelly – technical knockout – December 2015
(W) John Thompson – technical knockout – October 2015
Alvarez: 49 fights, 47 wins (33 via knockout), 1 draw, 1 loss
(W) Amir Khan – knockout – May 2016
(W) Miguel Cotto – unanimous decision – November 2015
(W) James Kirkland – knockout - May 2015
Smith is better equipped to give Alavrez a better examination than Khan could muster, but Canelo still manages to edge him in almost every department. Stoppage victory for the Mexican in the ninth round.
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