By Frank Warren
It was my pleasure yesterday to welcome Oscar De La Hoya and his team from Golden Boy Promotions to London for the second leg of the media tour to publicise the forthcoming WBO Junior Middleweight World Championship fight between our own Liam Smith and the marauding Mexican Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez.
September 17 is the date to pencil into your diary for what will be a real BoxNation blockbuster. I am also certain that hundreds of Liam’s fans will have now booked flights to Texas for what I confidently predict will be a candidate for fight of the year.
It is true that by winning this fight Liam will add his name to the sport’s A-listers, but it should also be remembered that he enters this contest as the champion, with his WBO belt on the line. The prize up for grabs currently resides in Liverpool and Liam is supremely confident that his belt will not be requiring a change of address.
It will be a third defence for Liam and, yes, he will be operating at a whole new level against the 47-1-1 challenger who is no stranger to wearing world championship belts himself, having previously held the WBC title at this weight and more recently at middleweight (although set at a catchweight).
It is what he wanted, Liam was craving a marquee fight where he can show everyone what he is all about and it doesn’t get any bigger than this.
He is not the slightest bit fazed by the job in hand. He truly fancies it and there was no quibbling from him at all over where it would take place or the minor details that matter so much to many – like featuring on the left hand side of promotional material.
Canelo is a seriously big attraction Stateside and it makes perfect sense to stage this fight in Texas on the weekend of Mexican Independence Day. It will only add to the occasion as the 26-year-old is the boxing pride of his nation.
Liam visited the AT&T Stadium, fabled home of the Dallas Cowboys, earlier this week and was blown away by the facility which can accommodate 80,000 fans. It is a magnificent venue and probably the best of its kind in the world and with the following Canelo enjoys you can expect a sell-out.
To my mind, comparisons with Canelo’s last fight with Amir Khan end with the fact it was against a fellow Brit.
Liam will be operating at his natural weight and is at no disadvantage. He was actually tasked with replicating Canelo in sparring by Amir ahead of his fight in July and Liam admitted himself that he was too big for his sparring partner and could foresee trouble ahead for the Bolton boy.
Now it is his turn to share a ring with the biggest draw in boxing.
It is about styles and in some ways they are similar, both robust in their work and reluctant to take a backward step.
Liam can really fight. He is a rugged, tough customer with a good chin, he can box and possesses a knockout punch. This will be his biggest test to date and it is one I am confident in him passing with flying colours and upsetting the odds.
Beefy may be the underdog but as I have reminded him I promoted a few of the biggest ring upsets involving British fighters. Joe Calzaghe boxed the ears off Jeff Lacey, who was supposedly the bee’s knees in American boxing, then went into Bernard Hopkins’ backyard and beat him and not forgetting Ricky Hatton’s fabulous victory over big favourite Kostya Tszyu.
I give Liam a great chance of emulating them.
Telling question from Sky’s Jeremy Langdon when he asked Canelo when he will be fighting Gennady Golovkin, he obviously doesn’t fancy Kell Brook’s chances on 10th September.
It seems Golden Boy clearly view Liam as a stepping stone back to the middleweight division where Billy Joe Saunders and then Gennady Golovkin lie in wait.
For me, it is a step they will trip up on, leaving us with a powder keg domestic dust-up to look forward between Beefy and Billy Joe.
I certainly won’t be betting against it.
There is no doubt Britain’s Beefy versus the Mexican Spice Boy will be ferocious encounter that will enthral those in the stadium and BoxNation viewers.
So, if you are planning to cheer on our man when he ventures deep into the heart of Texas, buy your tickets now. Or buy the fight at BoxNation because you are going to see something special on the night.
More from Frank tomorrow