By Radio Rahim
There was a lot of negativity when it was recently announced that Saul 'Canelo' Alvarez (47-1-1, 33 KOs) was dropping back to 154-pounds to challenge undefeated Liam 'Beefy' Smith (23-0-1, 13 KOs) for the WBO junior middleweight world championship on Saturday, September 17.
The event will be produced and distributed live by HBO Pay-Per-View beginning at 9:00 p.m. ET/6:00 p.m. PT. Information regarding venue and tickets will be announced shortly, but many believe the MGM Grand in Las Vegas is the frontrunner to secure the fight.
Smith will be the second consecutive British opponent for Canelo. Last month at Las Vegas' T-Mobile Arena, Canelo scored a brutal knockout of Amir Khan in the sixth round.
In his career, Canelo has fought three British fighters. Besides Khan, Canelo won a twelve round decision over Rick Hatton's younger brother Matthew Hatton in March of 2011, and then three months later he knocked out mandatory challenger Ryan Rhodes in the twelfth round.
But unlike Khan, the 27-year-old Smith is unknown to the American public - which makes it a very tricky event to promote on pay-per-view. Smith has never fought in the United States and he's received little to no coverage on American television.
While Smith doesn't have a name in America, most experts in the UK are not ruling out the possibility of an upset.
Promoter Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Sport is admittedly a fan of the fight. Smith is promoted by Hearn's main rival, Frank Warren of Queensberry Promotions. However, Hearn promotes Liam's three brothers - Callum Smith, Stephen Smith and Paul Smith.
Hearn is not surprised with the negative reaction in America, because most of the American boxing public is starving to see Canelo face IBO/WBC/WBA/IBF middleweight king Gennady 'GGG' Golovkin. That said, Hearn likes the fight and hopes Liam pulls off the upset.
"I've seen how badly it's gone down in America. I don't think it's that bad a fight because Liam is a talent. I think he's a huge underdog against Canelo, but I guess it's because of his profile that people in America are poo-pooing the fight. Nobody is going to be happy with it because everybody wants [Canelo] to fight Golovkin, but Liam is better than the Americans think - but he's still a huge underdog in the fight. I hope he wins. I'm very good friends with the Smith family. He's a very good fighter," Hearn told BoxingScene.com.