In his first fight as a free agent, the 5 foot 8 inch Mexican from Guadalajara, Mexico, returned to the ring December 19th, 2020 to defeat the number one 168lb Super Middleweight champion, Callum Smith, who was grotesquely taller than Canelo at 6 fee, 3 inches.
Smith is a world-class fighter who was ranked number one in multiple networks, Ring Magazine and sanctioning bodies at this weight division. In most professional appraisals, Smith was ‘the guy’ to beat in order for Canelo to begin credibly campaigning within the 168 lb ranks. In fact, due to his number one ranking within the Ring Magazine, Smith on that credential alone, was the correct opponent for Canelo.
The one-side victory involved Canelo walking down Smith as the latter champion had no response to either his body attack or Canelo’s surprisingly potent jab which would at times morph into a left hook.
It should be noted that Smith and Canelo both took the fight at a very short notice, with only 4 weeks to prepare, but neither fighter refused the tantalizing chance to make a show for the world before the close of the year.
Tactically, Canelo launched a war of attrition on the body of Smith in a most counter-intuitive way: punching the arms of Callum Smith, which led to a dislocated bicep or tricep muscle disallowing Smith to launch a left hook. Canelo found a new effective way to ‘work’ the body in an opponent, while remaining defensive but not in a fleetfooted way.
Since his performance against Daniel Jacobs, Canelo has begun to exhibit signs of defensive mastery, but not in a fan-displeasing way: not through constant evasion of his opponent, but in upper body movement that permits him to come forward and punch still. The ring mastery and power is what is subverting Canelo’s opponents, not gaming a point system. That is why Canelo is cementing his place in the pound for pound list of every reputable boxing authority.