If we’re talking career-best performances, we may have just seen one. On my card, the only round that was in doubt was the first–a three-minute feeling-out process, which Canelo stole with solid, telling shots down the stretch.
Rounds two and three saw Canelo further pressing the skill advantages that he showed in the closing minute of the first. He walked Smith down in spots, backing him to the ropes and unloading to the body and head. Any return fire from Smith was off the back foot–not enough against the majority of fighters, much less one with a chin like Canelo’s.
Round 4 saw Canelo commit to his offense more fully. He walked Smith to the ropes in the opening 30 seconds and, by the end of the round, was landing straight shots at distance–stepping in for body shots at will. It took that all-out assault to get Smith engaged in the fifth.
He finally realized that he could not hope to win a war of counter shots with the smaller Mexican. In throwing back, while still weathering the return fire, he showed his championship level heart. Canelo, seeing that, committed to his offense more fully. His head movement showed marked improvement from his fights against Daniel Jacobs and Sergey Kovalev.
Smith had no answers, although it almost entirely due to a great Canelo, rather than a disappointing dance partner.
Rounds 6 through 8 were similar in their patterns, but not the amount of abuse taken on by the champion. Canelo’s accuracy to go with the counterpunching and head movement is truly something to admire, whether you’re a fighter or fight fan. Canelo was constantly calculating while being within arm’s length, and Smith was tentative, on his back foot.
Here, Canelo began landing uppercuts through the guard with authority. The hooks to the side of the champion’s head and body had opened the middles of both, and it did not go unnoticed. Smith threw back, but Canelo barely flinched.
From Round 9, through the end of the fight, the only question was whether to score any rounds 10-8 instead of 10-9. It looked like Canelo may land the finishing shot any second. Every time it looked like Smith was in dire trouble, he would throw a three-to-four punch combination, then move away.
Even in those moments, Canelo would take the play right back from his man. Ever-cognizant of the judges at ringside, Canelo did not leave a single 30 second stretch of the closing rounds in doubt.
Constant pressure. Constant abuse. Constant pain for the now-former champion. After twelve rounds, my card read 120-108. The official judges scored it 119-109 (twice) and 117-111. The only debatable round was the first. All of the rest were one-sided affairs.
The mentality of the undefeated champion saved Callum Smith from being stopped. He gave an admirable effort. With very few clinches, and no wavering in confidence, he tried his best to win the fight. He was simply outmatched. Canelo Alvarez has cemented his claim as the No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter in the world.
Now, with victory 54, Canelo is a four-division champion. He joins the legendary Erik Morales as the only other Mexican fighter to do so. In three of those divisions, he has been the unified, Ring and lineal champion. A hall-of-fame career and all-time-great resume at age 30.