Boxing's calendar is overstuffed to end the year, with many great fighters finally getting a chance to get back into the ring after months of pandemic-related delays.
Errol Spence Jr., Terence Crawford, Anthony Joshua and even Mike Tyson and Roy Jones Jr. have all given fans something to celebrate as 2020 comes to a close, but the best bout could be yet to come as Canelo Alvarez returns to action in a super-middleweight title contest against Callum Smith on Saturday.
Contract disputes with Golden Boy Promotions and DAZN have helped keep Alvarez sidelined for nearly all of 2020, but he will be fighting on the streaming service anyway in order to take on Smith.
The Mexican (53-1-2, 36 KOs) has bounced around divisions in recent years, finding success everywhere he goes, and he is looking to buckle down and unify the titles at the super-middleweight ranks.
The undefeated Smith (27-0, 19 KOs) is hoping to make the third defense of his WBA "super" world title, which he earned with a win over George Groves in September 2018. The vacant WBC world title is also up for grabs on Saturday night.
Alvarez vs. Smith Fight Info
When: Saturday, Dec. 19 at 8 p.m. ET (main event at 11 p.m. ET, per SportingNews.com)
Where: Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas
Live stream: DAZN (US and UK, subscription required)
Odds: Alvarez -670, Smith +400 (via Draftkings Sportsbook)
Right off the bat, the obvious difference between these two fighters is size and length. Here's what they looked like standing side-by-side in their first meeting, via Matchroom Boxing:
The British fighter will have a huge advantage if he can establish the jab early on and keep Alvarez fighting at a distance.
TalkSport's Adam Catterall noted it's a significant risk in a title fight but praised Alvarez for not shying away from the challenge:
Smith, who is coming off a decision win over John Ryder last November, has also made it clear that he doesn't think his opponent belongs at 168 pounds, per ESPN.com's Nick Parkinson:
"In my opinion, no, he's not a super middleweight. Yes, he's been there before, fought [Sergey] Kovalev, but if you look at the champions at super middleweight, they are all big lads. There's only so much size your ability can make up for. We saw it with [Vasiliy] Lomachenko [against Teofimo Lopez]. I believe that will be the case for Canelo against me, I will be too big for him. But I'm not just a big lump, I've got skills and ability, too; I've shown I belong at a world level. If I can use the size and ability, I've got the beating of Canelo at 168 pounds."
Doubt Alvarez at your own peril. Smith may be much taller and longer than his opponent, but there are levels in boxing, and few are on the same plane as four-division champion from Guadalajara, Mexico. His all-around game has served him well in big wins over Kovalev, Danny Jacobs and Gennady Golovkin in recent years.
He's proved to be a master at keeping his head moving while remaining coiled up and in position to counter punch. If Smith takes a big swing and whiffs, Alvarez can use his speed and accuracy to go right to the body.
Targeting the midsection worked well for him in his previous fight at super middleweight, a third-round stoppage win over Rocky Fielding, via DAZN Boxing:
Working the body also happened to deliver Alvarez a stoppage win over Smith's older brother, Liam, in 2016.
Smith, who, like Alvarez, is in his prime at 30 years old, will be hoping he can pose a unique challenge to the Mexican superstar. It's going to take a sharp, focused and measured performance, as Alvarez has shown his chin can withstand incredible power going up against the likes of Kovalev and Golovkin.
Smith, who has a solid KO record with 19 stoppages, may find his best path to victory is on the scorecard. The Liverpool, England native can certainly make things awkward for Alvarez with his length and may hold up well in the closer exchanges being the more natural fit at 168 pounds.
The possibility of a big upset is there, but don't count on it. Look for Alvarez to shrug off some potentially troublesome early rounds and break down the champion en route to a late stoppage victory.
Prediction: Alvarez via late-round TKO