BRIT BASHER Canelo Alvarez has another Englishman on the menu but Callum Smith is hellbent on restoring national pride.
On December 19, Smith will defend his WBA and Ring magazine super-middleweight belts against the Mexican sensation in his adopted fighting US home.
Despite all the physical advantages, Smith will be a huge underdog as he has been hired to be an extra on the Saul Alvarez show.
The 30-year-old is a four-weight world champion and arguably the finest pound-for-pound fighter on the planet.
There have been a handful of UK stepping stones for the flame-haired ace to use on his journey to the top and one of them is even a part of Smith’s iconic fighting family.
Matthew Hatton, March 2011, vacant WBC super-welterweight title
Manchester boxing legend Ricky’s brother put on a typically tough performance to do the family proud when the pair clashed in California.
Hatton took the rapidly rising star the distance but was edged out 119-108 on every scorecard.
Canelo showed malice to match his genius when he whacked Hatton illegally in round seven, after the referee had called a break.
Alvarez was only 20 at the time, taking on a 29-year-old European champion.
But the new starlet had been a professional since the age of 15 – thanks to Mexico’s more liberal laws on the pro game – and used all of his experience and skill to get the win.
Canelo though, in his first world title shot, missed the pre-arranged 150lbs limit by 1.8lbs and paid Hatton a small compensation.
Ryan Rhodes, June 2011, defending WBC super-welterweight title
Having crossed the border to win the vacant title three months earlier, Canelo was handed a proper homecoming party with his first defence.
Hard man Rhodes was picked to travel to Mexico – arriving with a 45-4 record – to give the Jalisco darling his latest test.
The bout was a huge commercial success, landing 1.6m viewers on American network HBO and Rhodes deserves plenty of credit for co-starring in the show.
Canelo floored the brave Brit in the fourth with a four-shot combination but he climbed off the deck and battled on.
Rhodes absorbed crippling punishment to the body but was still able to showboat with defensive skills in the tenth.
But Alvarez unloaded a torrent in the final round and the ref dived in just as Rhodes’ cornerman Dave Coldwell threw in the white towel.
Amir Khan, May 2016, WBC middleweight title
Canelo gave the Brits six years off after the Rhodes and Hatton double, rampaging through stellar names like Shane Mosley and Miguel Cotto but taking on Floyd Mayweather too early and suffering his only career defeat.
Bolton’s 2004 Olympic silver winner was on a five-fight win streak and had just claimed the WBC welterweight crown, when he was offered the chance to jump up two weight classes.
He was either too brave or greedy to turn Canelo down and was poleaxed with one hellish round-six right hand.
Khan fairly felt he had made the brighter start, though was behind on two of the cards, but the right hand was sensational and changed the course of the British boxing hero's career forever.
Liam Smith, September 2016, WBO super-welterweight title
With Khan still recovering from the sickening right hand that collapsed him in the T-Mobile Arena, Canelo did a deal to drop down a division to meet Callum Smith’s elder brother Liam just four months later.
The 25-0 Liverpool ace had made two impressive defences of his 11st title and rightly fancied his chances of shocking Alvarez.
Liam had success but Canelo looked impervious to pain and, even when Alvarez was pinned back on the ropes, it seemed like he was in control.
The Mexican's body punching was frightening and each time Smith dared to lower his guard to protect his organs, he was smashed to the skull.
In the seventh, Smith was beaten to the canvas and heroically beat the count, but he was sunk again in the seventh by a punch to the gut.
And another Canelo left hook to the body, after playing possum on the ropes in round nine, finished Liam Smith and would have sent ripples back across the Mersey.
Rocky Fielding, December 2018, WBA super-middleweight title
Fielding had landed the title in a bizarre and shock July win so Canelo wasted no time securing the 6ft 1in Liverpool fighter as an early Christmas gift for himself.
Fielding had just four months to enjoy his reign and he would have made life-changing money the moment he signed up to face the 5ft 8in challenger.
Fielding could have turned up and collapsed under the first attack, he would not have earned a penny more.
Instead he was floored four times inside three rounds and was saved from his own courage when the one-sided fight was becoming unbearable to watch.
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