Canelo Alvarez tough to beat

In 1967, a boxing match was almost made in between Muhammad Ali and NBA super star Wilt Chamberlain. Promoter Bob Arum was prepared to put it on.

The males appeared on Howard Cosell’s tv program, and when they squared off, the 6-foot-3 Ali was overshadowed by the 7-foot-1 Chamberlain. In spite of the size drawback, nobody who understood boxing felt Chamberlain stood much of an opportunity versus Ali.

On Thursday, when Canelo Alvarez and Callum Smith positioned together at a press conference to promote their extremely middleweight title battle Saturday in San Antonio on DAZN, the size distinction in between them was similarly as plain.

Smith is 6-3 and will have a 7-inch height benefit on Alvarez, who is 5-8.

Smith will plainly have a much better possibility of beating Alvarez, who is Yahoo Sports’ No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter on the planet, than Chamberlain ever had versus Ali. Smith is 27-0 with 19 knockouts and is a strong, above-average fighter.

Canelo Alvarez, left, lands a punch against Sergey Kovalev during a light heavyweight WBO title bout, Saturday, Nov. 2, 2019, in Las Vegas (AP Photo/John Locher)
Canelo Alvarez, right, lands a punch versus Sergey Kovalev throughout their light heavyweight WBO title bout on Nov. 2, 2019, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

Alvarez, however, is much more than strong. He’s competent in every location and is a -600 preferred at the MGM Grand sports book to beat Smith. MGM has Smith at +425.

Smith’s biggest benefit in the majority of his battles is his height and reach. However he typically doesn’t battle high and likes to get in and work the body, which negates his size benefit. That would be playing into Alvarez’s hands.

If Smith pops a jab consistently in Alvarez’s face and drops the occasional right hand behind it, he’s going to make Alvarez work very hard to get the victory and Alvarez will pay a price in the process.

It behooves him not to battle along the ropes and to try to keep Alvarez at the end of his jab.

Alvarez, though, is one of the smartest fighters in the sport and he’s always got multiple plans in case the first one or two don’t work. He’s able to adjust on the fly.

He’s going to try to feast on the body and break Smith down with thudding shots to the midsection. If he digs regularly to the body, he has the power to stop Smith. The MGM has “won’t go the distance” at -180, while “will go 12 full rounds” is +140.

The best thing that could happen to Smith is to get stung to the ribs early, so he learns a lesson and boxes, creates angles and uses his height and reach.

Smith is skilled enough to do that, but I don’t see him beating Alvarez. So while I shudder to lay $600 to win $100, I’m going to do that to bet on Alvarez. But I’ll bet $100 that the fight does go the distance, with the potential payoff being $140. And I’m going to lay $100 on Alvarez to win by decision, with the potential payoff of $180.

Other bets:

  • Gennadiy Golovkin is a -2800 favorite Friday night on DAZN over Kamil Szeremeta. Szeremeta is +1200. I won’t lay $2,800 to win $100, but I will lay $600 to win $100 that Golovkin wins by KO/TKO/DQ.

  • Jaron Ennis is -2500 to defeat Chris van Heerden Saturday on Showtime in their welterweight bout. Van Heerden is +1000. I won’t lay that, however I like Ennis to win. If you can find a line on Ennis by knockout, take that. I feel he’ll stop van Heerden in the back half of the battle.

More from Yahoo Sports:

Jobber Wiki author Frank Long contributed to this report.