Canelo will face 154-pound titleholder Liam Smith Sept. 17 on HBO PPV
Canelo Alvarez isn’t exactly familiarizing himself with the middleweight limit, but he is going for his third title when he challenges WBO 154-pound champion Liam “Beefy” Smith on Sept. 17 on HBO PPV at a venue to be determined, it was announced on Friday.
Alvarez’s promoter Golden Boy made it clear earlier this week that facing WBA/IBF/WBC middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin later this year wasn’t an option. The two have loosely agreed to face each other in the fall of 2017, so Alvarez, who has never fought above 155 pounds, has time to get used to fighting at 160 pounds.
His fight with the unproven Smith won’t necessarily get him ready for the new weight class. But it is a title fight, and it will allow Alvarez, 25, to move on from the smothering Golovkin talk and take the first step, even if it’s a minor one, to presumably getting ready for a superfight with Golovkin next year.
“I am very pleased to announce my next fight against Liam Smith, a tremendous fighter with real knockout power, and the WBO junior middleweight world title owner,” said Alvarez, who remans the RING middleweight champion. “I have no doubt that this fight will be give and take, which will fill the expectations of the fans, and I will work with all the enthusiasm as I always do to get the upper hand on 17 September.”
Liverpool’s Smith, 27, would seem to pose even less of a risk than did Amir Khan, who was brutally knocked out last month and managed to out-box Alvarez (47-1-1, 33 knockouts) for a few rounds. Smith (23-0-1, 13 KOs) has fought exclusively in his native England and has a plodding, straight-forward style that seems tailor-made for Alvarez. Still, Smith, who will make his U.S. debut, was teeming with confidence over the opportunity; he has knocked out his last eight opponents, and is an aggressive puncher. While some will surely pan the matchup because Alvarez isn’t facing Golovkin, the chances of the bout with Smith going the distance are remote.
“I am delighted to get the opportunity to defend my world title against the biggest name in world boxing and to headline in the U.S. which is a dream I have had since I started in the sport of boxing,” said Smith, THE RING’s No. 8 junior middleweight. “This fight allows me to make my name in the U.S. and show just how good I am and this is the big stage that will enable me to do that.”
Mitch Abramson is a former reporter with the New York Daily News and can be reached on Twitter at: Mabramson13.