Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez’s former opponent Callum Smith: “Billy Joe Saunders has got movement, he’s a southpaw, a bit awkward and can probably stay out of trouble. But I don’t know if he’s got anything to keep Canelo off – enough power”
By Andy Scott & James Dielhenn
Callum Smith has questioned whether his British rival Billy Joe Saunders will have enough firepower to gain the “respect” of Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez.
Canelo retained his WBA and WBC super-middleweight titles with a swift stoppage of Avni Yildirim in Miami at the weekend, setting up a unification clash against WBO champion Saunders on May 8.
Smith’s undefeated record and WBA title reign were ended by the Mexican star in December and the Liverpudlian has given an ominous warning of what lies ahead for Saunders.
“Everybody always said me and Billy Joe had styles to trouble him but in completely different ways because we are completely different fighters,” Smith recently told Sky Sports.
“Billy Joe has got movement, he’s a southpaw, a bit awkward and can probably stay out of trouble.
“But I don’t know if he’s got anything to keep Canelo off – enough power.
“Canelo is hard to hit clean and I don’t know if Billy Joe has enough to get his respect, and put a dent in him.
“I see Canelo finding a way. Walking him down, starting to land as the fight goes on.
“I will always back a Brit but I don’t think anyone beats Canelo.”
Saunders, who is a two-weight world champion, extended his unbeaten record to 30 victories with a wide points win over Martin Murray in December.
But Canelo, a conqueror of four weight divisions, is a master at nullifying your best assets, according to Smith.
“He is very clever in terms of the jab. He walks you down,” said Smith.
“With anybody else, you would jab. But he wants you to jab because he’s a counter-puncher. So you don’t throw as many jabs and while you are waiting, he closes the space down without throwing anything.
“Then he jabs and hits you. You think: ‘How did that land?’.
“He keeps you guessing all the time. You are hesitant.
“His best asset was his presence and his defence. He was so hard to hit clean. When I was throwing he was riding them, making me miss. You aren’t landing so you stop fully committing to shots.
“He takes away what you are good at.”