Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez has been vocal of his desire to establish himself as the undisputed super middleweight champion.

Ever daring to be great, that quest for divisional supremacy begins at the top.

Alvarez’s challenge of unbeaten 168-pound titlist Callum Smith (27-0, 19KOs) became a reality following extensive talks with several of the division’s best players. From there came the very best fight that can be made at that weight, which takes place December 19 live on DAZN from The Alamodome in San Antonio.

It becomes a win-win scenario for the sport’s pound-for-pound king—so long as he can rise to the occasion on fight night.

“We’re ready for this,” Alvarez insisted during a virtual press conference. “I like to challenge myself. It’s what motivates me. These challenges present me with problems to solve in the ring. That’s what I like and is what has always been most important to me.

“In the end, I want to make history in this sport. In order to do so, I have to continue to face the best out there. So, that’s why we’re taking this big challenge. This next fight is a great challenge for me. It’s high motivation for me as well. We’re ready to get past this next challenge in my career.”

The fight came about for Alvarez (53-1-2, 36KOs) following negotiations with Smith and two more unbeaten 168-pound titlist in Billy Joe Saunders (30-0, 14KOs) and Caleb Plant (20-0, 12KOs). Fights with the latter two are still very much in play for 2021, though proved to not come at the right time for a dance in December.

It was perfect timing for Smith and obviously for Alvarez, both of whom enter the fight following a year-plus long layoff. Liverpool’s Smith attempts his third title defense of the belt he claimed in a 7th round knockout of countryman George Groves in the World Boxing Super Series super middleweight finals in September 2018. A 3rd round knockout of Hassan N’Dam N’Jikam last June was followed by Smith’s disputed 12-round points win over countryman John Ryder which took place last November 23 in his hometown.

The upcoming title clash will end a career-long 59-week inactive stretch for Guadalajara’s Alvarez, whose last fight came in an 11th round knockout of light heavyweight titlist Sergey Kovalev. The feat saw Alvarez become just the fourth boxer in history to win titles at 154-, 160- and 175 pounds. A secondary super middleweight title win also graces his résumé, doing so in a 3rd knockout of Rocky Fielding in December 2018.

The fight versus Smith marks a shot at the real thing, and against the man viewed by many—including Alvarez himself—as the best super middleweight in the world.

“To me, he’s the best at 168,” notes Alvarez. “He’s listed at #1 in the world rankings at 168 pounds. So yes, I agree that he’s the best. That motivates me a lot. It motivates me a lot because it’s a big challenge for me. It’s me continuing to make history in boxing, which is ultimately what I want and what I love to do.”

Jake Donovan is a senior writer for Twitter: @JakeNDaBox