Speaking exclusively to Boxing News, Callum Smith explains why fighting Canelo Alvarez will bring out the best in him
GETTING the deal done hasn’t been as exciting as most people probably think. It’s been a bit frustrating. The fight was on the table, off the table, on the table over the course of 2020.
But it’s a good feeling. It’s a fight I’ve wanted, I’ve chased it for a long time and I’ve finally got it now. It’s time to deliver.
It’s no secret he’s had his own problems outside of the ring for the past few months with the Golden Boy, DAZN stuff. Then he became a free agent. I just think fights at this kind of level aren’t as easy to make as fights at a lower level. There’s a lot that goes into the contractual side of things. I think it was always going to take a little bit of time but we got there in the end. Maybe he was trying to get me as late as possible. It’s short notice but I’m not just getting off the couch with four weeks to go and trying to work a miracle. I’ve been in the gym, I’ve been working so I’ll be good on the night. I’ll be ready for whatever comes on December 19.
In life opportunities don’t present themselves very often and sometimes they only present themselves once and that’s it, your chance might have gone. I’ve said for a while now after becoming world champion the goal was to be involved in the biggest fights possible and when the biggest fight possible presents itself you’ve got to take it. There was no hesitation from me.
I’ve got to focus on me, make sure the best version of me steps in that ring and I believe the best version of me can beat anyone in the world at 168lbs. I fully believe that, including Canelo Alvarez. I’m under no illusions how good he is, I know sub par performance from me loses and that’s the reality of it, but I believe the best version of me beats him.
Canelo’s in the position he’s in because he can do a little bit of everything. I don’t think you reach the level he’s got if you’ve got a weak part of your game. He’s shown he can go on the front foot, the backfoot. He can do it all. So I’ve got to expect all different tactics from him. He could come and try and put it on me early, he could try what he did with [Sergey] Kovalev, taking me to the later rounds and then pick it up. I’m preparing for everything.
I know what Canelo Alvarez is like. Obvious Joe [Gallagher, his trainer] will study him a lot more and find certain little holes in him. But I’ve seen a lot of him. But I do believe I beat him, I believe I’ve got the style to do it.
Joe has always believed if there’s a man to beat him, it’s me. Training’s going well, we’re working on different things and we feel we’ll get the right gameplan.
Styles do make fights I think stylistically and tactically I’ve got the beating of him and I wouldn’t be calling for this fight if I didn’t believe it.
Like what we’ve seen with Lomachenko and Teofimo Lopez, there comes a point where your ability can only make up for so much size. There’s the saying a good big ‘un beats a good little ‘un and I believe that.
This fight is more about me showing the world how good I am. I’ve proved I’m a world champion but I want to prove that I can compete at the highest level.
Being around Liam in a fight week with Canelo Alvarez, and my other brothers in big fight weeks you get a feel for it and it’s not a shock to the system. I know what to expect.
Liam’s been in with him and there are little things you pick up only from being in with him. It’s different sitting outside and watching or even watching on the telly. Little things that he [Alvarez] does well and what he feels you can catch him on. My brothers are always there for advice, they try to help me as much as possible. So I’ll be getting little bits of advice off them and I just want to come up with the best gameplan possible and the best version of me possible step through the ropes, then we’ll see what happens.
That’s the plan, I’ve avenged Paul [his eldest brother, against George Groves], now I’ll avenge Liam! I can’t get any of Stephen’s ones but I’ll stick to doing Paul’s and Liam’s hopefully.
I think the John Ryder fight [above] was probably the main reason why this fight got made. After Groves, I don’t believe I was in Canelo’s plans.
I’m always looking to improve, even if I’ve come off a good performance. I went into the Groves fight off the back of a bad performance against [Nieky] Holzken and I took a lot of criticism for it. I knew at the time what I was capable of. I knew the best version of me turns up, I’d beat George Groves.
There is a lot more to come from me. As long as I believe in myself and believe in my own ability then I know I’ll deliver on the night.
I think my career has shown, every step up I’ve had, every fight where people have had question marks over it, I’ve always delivered and I believe this will be exactly the same. I believe Canelo Alvarez, who is one of the best pound-for-pound at the moment, will bring out the best in me.
It’s is the biggest fight possible for me. All the hard work of becoming a world champion, these are kind of your rewards; when you become a world champion you’ve got the right to the biggest fights possible. This is that for me. I’ve just got to make sure I go out there and perform.