During the first moment Canelo Alvarez stood face-to-face with his next opponent at the press conference earlier in the week to hype up Saturday's return against WBA super middleweight champion Callum Smith, it was hard to overlook just how tall of a challenge this was for the Mexican superstar.
The pun in this case was intentional for Alvarez (53-1-2, 36 KOs), the reigning pound-for-pound king, who was giving up no shortage of seven inches in height to the 6-foot-3 Smith (27-0, 19 KOs) when the two stared deeply into each other's eyes as the flashes of nearby cameras clicked on and off around them.
The 30-year-old Smith, a native of England and the youngest of four pro boxers as brothers, is nothing to be taken lightly as an opponent. He has power, size and hunger. He also fits in nicely onto Alvarez's resume given how routinely difficult he matches himself despite holding so much leverage as the sport's biggest star.
So when the photos of the height disparity between the two flooded the internet just days out from Saturday's bout (8 p.m. ET on DAZN, sign up now) inside the Alamodome in San Antonio, it was only natural to wonder whether Alvarez had bitten off more than he could chew.
Not only is Alvarez, 30, looking to unify the WBA title at 168 pounds after previously holding the governing bodies' secondary belt, the two fighters will also be competing for the WBC title that was vacated after David Benavidez missed weight for a title defense earlier this year. Yet he was far from concerned when asked about how he will overcome the height difference.
"We knew about the height and we knew also about his qualities, but I have the boxing experience that's needed and we have prepared for it," Alvarez told "Morning Kombat" on Wednesday.
Smith's advantage, of course, only becomes one if he uses it by keeping Alvarez on the outside of his jab and preventing the same kind of vicious body attack Alvarez once used to finish Smith's older brother Liam during their 2016 title bout at 154 pounds.
"We will have to wait and see," Smith told CBS Sports last week. "Obviously, I have to try and use every one of my advantages as much as possible. There's no use having a seven-inch height advantage if I didn't use it.
"At the highest level, a lot of it can change as the fight goes on. Some of it will be at close quarters and some of it will be at distance. I just have to be prepared for whatever Canelo Alvarez turns up. I have to have a good game plan and pull it off at the night. I believe that Dec. 20 I will wake up still a champion."
Asked whether he would target Smith's other two brothers or any extended family members next should he get past Callum this weekend, Alvarez let out a rare chuckle.
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"Whomever is there and whomever is the best, we will go after him," Alvarez said.
The reality is that Alvarez will have no shortage of big opportunities awaiting him after recently freeing himself from exclusive deals with both DAZN and former promoter Golden Boy. But none of that matters if he doesn't get through Smith first by finding a way to get inside on his opponent.
"Hopefully yes, hopefully yes," Alvarez said about whether he's targeting the body. "That's what we are going to try to see and may it be the best history."
It's not the deepest card we've seen, but there's still plenty of intrigue surrounding the main event. Let's take a closer look at the complete fight card and latest main event odds before making an expert pick and prediction on Canelo vs. Smith.
Fight card, odds
- Canelo Alvarez -650 vs. Callum Smith (c) +475, WBC and WBA super middleweight titles
- Marc Castro vs. Luis Javier Valdes, bantamweights
- Frank Sanchez vs. Julian Fernandez, heavyweights
- Austin Williams vs. Isiah Jones, middleweights
- Christian Alan Gomez Duran vs. Angel Hernandez, welterweights
It's a credit to Alvarez's greatness that he can so effortlessly bounce between a trio of weight classes from 160 to 175 pounds and still carry both his power and instincts as a finisher. But despite being the smaller man in recent title bouts against the much bigger Rocky Fielding at super middleweight and Sergey Kovalev at light heavyweight, Alvarez played the role of stalking power puncher looking for the finish.
Alvarez can box his way to victory just the same should he need to, of course, which he did in 2019 against an also much bigger Daniel Jacobs in their middleweight title unification. Still, there's reason to believe he'll look to walk down and overwhelm Smith in this fight and look to do so slowly.
While it's easy to say that Smith's jab will be potentially the most important punch in this fight so he can control range and prevent Alvarez from getting close enough to target his body, none of that will matter if he doesn't give Alvarez a reason to be hesitant.
That's where the effectiveness of Smith's right hand becomes critical, particularly early in the fight. Getting a decision against Alvarez has long proven to be a difficult thing given how much judges have favored his clean counter punching in close fights. So the first half of the bout should be telling as to whether Smith can actually play the role of the bigger man and make Alvarez pay for crossing the imaginary line in front of him.
Should Smith prove unable to do that, a late stoppage (particularly via heavy hooks to the rib cage to slow him down) seems almost inevitable.
Smith is big, tough and hungry, but it's largely up to him as to how much risk he's willing to take on in order to actually try and win as opposed to hanging around and hoping for the best.
Pick: Alvarez via TKO11