As an unprecedented 12 months for boxing draws to a close and a more hopeful New Year beckons, it's only fitting that the sport’s biggest name helps oversee the welcomed transition.
Canelo Alvarez looked bound for a fight-less 2020, after the pandemic called a halt to elite level match-ups during initial lockdown and a previous legal case cast further doubts over his ring appearance.
But, with little under two weeks until the New Year is ushered in, Canelo will finally return to the squared-circle for another high-profile clash on American soil.
It’s Callum Smith who will stand opposite the Mexican superstar on December 19th. At the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas, Canelo will look to claim Smith’s WBA ‘Super’ and Ring Magazine super-middleweight titles and the vacant WBC belt to further boost his ever-growing legacy during what has now become his era of boxing.
The sport’s biggest Box Office attraction has gradually climbed the pound-for-pound rankings to overall supremacy in recent years, gathering a string of successes that even his biggest detractors can no longer overlook.
There will always be critics who cast shade over the circumstances of those victories; but victories they were, no matter the backlash.The greatest fighters embrace the most difficult challenges. After overcoming former middleweight ruler Gennadiy Golovkin, taking Rocky Fielding’s super-middleweight belt and viciously dethroning light-heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev, Canelo hasn’t shied away from next facing the other consensus top name at 168lbs to round out the year in an even stronger position.
While the pandemic was casting doubts over fights at the top level for some time and Canelo’s court battles adding to his frustrations, the Mexican wasn’t deterred from continuing to graft behind the scenes.
Very much in the mould of a fighter hungry for sustained success, Canelo stayed prepared for the possibility of finally returning to the ring for the first time since November 2019 when he stopped ‘The Krusher’.
That commitment to his craft and patience paid off with the Smith fight announcement, as Alvarez aims to end the longest period of inactivity in his professional career with another showcase performance.
Across the decades one fighter tends to stand tallest above the rest, shadowing over their contemporaries with the more meaningful headline attractions, larger fight purses and wider spreading fan appeal.
Canelo is now that fighter, taking over the mantle from former adversary Floyd Mayweather Jr. when he officially retired from contesting legitimate opponents.
Despite the superstar aura that now surrounds the 30-year-old and benefits that come with being the leading light, Canelo hasn’t held back from the legacy-defining tests at this stage of his career.
Boxing careers don’t last long; with prime years coming and going in a flash. Alvarez knows that and is wasting no more time in adding to his ever-growing legacy, if he can help it.
Canelo has swiftly put out-of-ring setbacks behind him to get ready for the Smith battle; the best possible match-up that was available on short notice and perhaps the biggest regardless of recent worldwide constraints during this pandemic-swept year.Now at 30 years of age and arriving at the peak of his powers, Canelo has already amassed what many regard a Hall of Fame career. It’s been a conquering rise to the pinnacle for the fighter who made his debut at 15; having now been a professional for half of his life.
There’s so much more potential remaining over the coming years too, including a line-up of legacy-building opponents on the horizon. A win over Smith can set up a long-mooted unification with Billy Joe Saunders, while other sizeable names still remain at super-middleweight.
After stopping Kovalev, many pondered seismic challenges with the likes of Artur Beterbiev and Dmitry Bivol, while others questioned if Canelo had even hit his ceiling weight at 175lbs.
Ambitious ventures to cruiserweight and, incredibly, even heavyweight were mentioned. But that’s the kind of grandiose talk that comes in light of a fighter like Canelo’s division-jumping feats.It’s now been more than seven years since Canelo tasted his first and only career defeat so far against recent Hall of Fame inductee Floyd Mayweather Jr.
Despite facing the number one fighter in his current division next, it’s Canelo that will climb through the ring ropes as the favourite to prevail this weekend and maintain that winning run; as is his immense reputation in the sport.
Already holding a stoppage success over Callum Smith’s older brother Liam from a light-middleweight encounter back in 2016, Canelo now seeks to add the youngest of Liverpool’s fighting family siblings to his continuously expanding record.
Canelo will enter the ring on Saturday night as boxing’s pound-for-pound number one and expects to further cement that status by reigning as the unified super-middleweight champion come Sunday morning. It would be the latest admirable accomplishment during what has been consistently established as his era of boxing.