From Billy Joe Saunders’ standpoint, Callum Smith committed his biggest mistake long before he got in the ring with Canelo Alvarez.
According to Saunders, Smith never should’ve accepted such a difficult fight on approximately five weeks’ notice. It’s not enough time, Saunders says, to properly prepare for an elite fighter with Alvarez’s experience, power and skill.
Mexico’s Alvarez dominated England’s Smith in their 12-round fight December 19 at Alamodome in San Antonio. The previously unbeaten Smith (27-1, 19 KOs) lost by huge margins on all three scorecards that night (119-109, 119-109, 117-111) and surrendered his WBA super middleweight title to the four-division champion.
Their fight was so one-sided, Saunders didn’t bother watching it in its entirety.
“I can give you my opinion of what I think happened,” Saunders told DAZN’s Gareth Davies for an “Off The Cuff” segment on the streaming service’s website. “But I can’t really give you my full opinion of the fight because I’ll be honest with you – I’ve only watched the highlights and I’ve only watched about two minutes of it, and turned it off. Because I rate Callum Smith as a fighter. But I think he went in there depending on power and size, and that don’t work. Game plan completely wrong, fought completely wrong.”
More than anything, though, Saunders suspects Smith simply didn’t have enough time to get ready for that type of fight. England’s Saunders (30-0, 14 KOs), the WBO super middleweight champion, had more than two full months to train for his fight against Alvarez (55-1-2, 37 KOs) on May 8 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas (DAZN).
“You know, and I can only go and think he got offered a hell of a lot of money, and I think he was probably put in the same position as me,” Saunders said. “And he took the money route. My opinion, I don’t think he was at his best. I’m not taking anything away from Canelo, but when you box someone like him, you need two months to get your head around everything what comes with that. Because if you think you’re gonna take it on five weeks’ notice, next thing you know your bags are packed, you’re on the plane, you’re over there, you’re [doing] media, you’re this, you’re in the ring, the lights are on, you don’t know what’s happening. No, no, no. That’s not proper preparation.
“And I don’t care if they say he stays in the gym, he stays fit. Mentally, that’s, you know, you need that mental side of things to get your head around this full situation, not just be blinded by money put in front of you. Because I believe that’s what happened to him. I believe he went in there for the money, rather than the destiny of actually being the man to dethrone Canelo. Because he’s a good fighter, Smith, and I just don’t think that was his night, definitely not.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.