Canelo Alvarez and Liam Smith say they won’t leave anything to chance
Canelo Alvarez evidently doesn’t allow personal milestones to get in the way of business. Not even his birthday.
Canelo turned 26 today yet was dutifully on the road, taking part in the kickoff press conference for his fight against WBO junior middleweight titleholder Liam Smith on Sept. 17 – a day after Mexican Independence Day – at AT&T Stadium in Dallas.
“I had to work for my birthday so I’m here to work,” he said at AT&T. “I’m very happy to be back in Texas again, in this beautiful stadium. I’m going to take this fight seriously and prepare like always. I know how I’m going to have to train. I like to give the fans a great fight, and that is what I will prepare for.”
Canelo (47-1-1, 33 knockouts) will be fighting in Texas for the third time, having outpointed Austin Trout at the Alamodome in San Antonio in 2013 and KO’d James Kirkland at Minute Maid Park in Houston last year. The attendance was almost 40,000 both times.
AT&T, where the Cowboys play, holds 80,000.
“I’ve got to see Canelo fight and I can’t tell you how impressed I am by his talent, to see it up close and personal,” said Jerry Jones, owner of the Cowboys. “We have some great Hispanic boxing fans here in Texas. We recognize what a great talent Liam Smith is and what a great fighter Canelo is and what he means to Mexican fans.
“It is a great gift for us to host this event on Mexican Independence Day weekend.”
Canelo is the RING and linear middleweight champion after outpointing Miguel Cotto in November but he’ll be the challenger on Sept. 17. Smith, from Liverpool, England (the Beatles’ hometown), won the vacant WBO 154-pound title by stopping John Thompson in October in Manchester.
Smith, one of four professional boxing brothers, is known for well-honed skills, durability and fitness. And he has some power: He has stopped his last eight opponents.
“We are fighting a tough fight with Liam Smith,” said Eddy Reynoso, Canelo’s trainer. “There is a reason he is a champion. We are going to prepare like always with a lot of dedication and we can win another title.”
Said Chepo Reynoso, Eddy’s father and Canelo’s manager: “We know that on Sept. 17, Liam Smith is coming to conquer America. He is coming to defend his title. We also know he has knocked out his recent opponents. We should be very aware so that we don’t have any surprises. We take this fight with a lot of respect and responsibility. This is an important fight in September, at an important stadium that is one of the best in the world. Viva Canelo and Viva Mexico!”
Smith, who has never taken part in a fight of this magnitude, already feels his adrenaline flowing.
“I am very excited,” he said. “I have asked for a top name for a very long time and when Canelo’s name came to the table it was an automatic ‘yes.’ We are coming very prepared for this fight and I’m coming to win.”
Joe Gallagher, Smith’s trainer and the RING Trainer of the Year for 2015, seconded his fighter’s statement.
“We are going to have a good camp,” he said. “Liam isn’t coming over here to be caught like a rabbit in the headlights. Liam Smith is a world champion and is going to take care of business on fight night.”
One source of motivation, said Oscar De La Hoya, Canelo’s promoter, will come from those closest to the fighters.
“Both of these fighters come from boxing families,” he said. “Boxing is in their blood. To Canelo and Smith, fighting is a family tradition and with that comes a responsibly to live up to the family name.
“That said, both of them will come to the ring on Sept. 17 to wage a war.”