Canelo Alvarez delivered one of the most brilliant performances of his storied career in his return to the ring on Saturday night.
Alvarez dominated and outclassed the much-taller Callum Smith with an impressive 12-round decision win. Alvarez won with scores of 119-109, 119-109 and 117-111 to capture the WBA, WBC and Ring Magazine super middleweight titles. It was Alvarez’s first fight in 13 months with his last fight being a knockout win over Sergey Kovalev.
From the start of the fight, Alvarez proved he was the stronger and more aggressive fighter. Callum Smith tried to utilize his jab at times, but it was nowhere near enough to shake off Alvarez. Smith’s inability to utilize the jab more and tendency to fall back onto the ropes allowed Alvarez to show an impressive mix of body punches, uppercuts and pressure fighting.
Alvarez remained relentless as the fight progressed and even staggered Smith numerous times, including in the ninth round when it seemed like Smith could have been knocked down. Although Smith went the distance, Alvarez’s boxing mastery was too much for the fight to even be competitive.
No matter how one looks at it, Alvarez’s performance a virtuoso one. According to CompuBox, Alvarez landed 57% of his power punches (126 of 220) and out-landed Smith 214 to 99 in total punches.
Canelo had the pedal to the metal all night long. 🔥
— DAZN Boxing (@DAZNBoxing) December 20, 2020
What is next for Canelo Alvarez?
Alvarez’s future is now wide open. His contract with DAZN ended earlier this year after months of legal action, but Alvarez returned for a one-fight deal to face Smith. With the fight over, Alvarez is once again a free agent. A number of fighters from middleweight to light heavyweight are possible for the Mexican star. At middleweight, the ever-elusive third fight against Gennadiy Golovkin remains a possibility as does a matchup against WBC champion Jermall Charlo.
At super middleweight, there are a variety of fighters, some from PBC, who could step up to fight Alvarez. On the PBC side, IBF champion Caleb Plant is a strong favorite to fight Alvarez next provided he emerges victorious in next fight against Caleb Truax in January. Former WBC super middleweight champion David Benavidez is also a possibility. There is also WBO champion Billy Joe Saunders, who once had a fight against Alvarez secured before the current COVID-19 pandemic dashed any hope of that fight becoming a reality in 2020.
As the WBC super middleweight champion, Alvarez is ordered to fight Avni Yildirim within 90 days. This came from a WBC ruling that allowed the then-vacant title to be at stake for this fight against Smith.
Alvarez could even explore the light heavyweight division again for a possible opponent as WBA champion Dmitry Bivol had expressed interest in facing him at one point. Bivol has even stated he’d be willing to move down to 168 pounds.
Arguably boxing’s No. 1 pound-for-pound star, Alvarez’s future heading into 2021 is uncertain. However, it’s full of possibilities with major events looming over the horizon.