Freddie Roach gives Liam Smith a fighting chance
While Liam Smith is the defending WBO 154-pound titlist coming into this weekend’s meeting with Saul Alvarez at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, not many are giving the Englishman much of a shot. But noted trainer Freddie Roach believes “Beefy” will be a tough out for the Mexican star.
“Liam’s a tough kid. I give him a little bit of a shot,” Roach said from his gym, the Wild Card Boxing Club, last week. “He’s a tough kid, durable guy, champion of the world and they say he’s not as good as one of his brothers but so what? He’s a world champion and I think he might be the best one and he’s a very durable guy. He’s in a very tough fight but don’t count him out.”
As Roach pointed out, Smith is from a fighting family (brothers Paul, Stephen and Callum all box professionally) and he’s the first from the clan to win a world title. He captured the WBO belt by stopping John Thompson in seven rounds last October. In the trainer’s opinion, Smith is a much bigger threat as a junior middleweight than Amir Khan was at a weight limit of 155 for Alvarez.
“He’s much better,” opined Roach, who explained, “Sturdiness, he’s used to the weight, not gaining weight to get to the money. This is where he fights at.”
Looking at Smith, you see he’s a junior middleweight who has good size (he’s listed at 5-foot-10) and he’s a rangy right-hander. Like the rest of Joe Gallagher’s deep roster of boxers from Britain, Smith has spent time at the Wild Card, where he’s sparred some of Roach’s boxers. “He’s worked here quite a bit. He’s worked here as a sparring partner many times and he’s always given everybody good, good hard rounds. I think it’s going to be a great fight,” stated Roach, who got an up-close and personal look at Alvarez last fall when Miguel Cotto faced him. Over 12 rounds, “Canelo” out-pointed Cotto for the WBC middleweight title.
Roach admitted, “(Alvarez) surprised me. I didn’t think he was that solid of a fighter. He was very good and I thought my guy out-boxed him but the thing is he improved quite a bit and I think he’s getting better and better all the time and I expect him to carry on like that.” What opened Roach’s eyes was Canelo’s craftiness. “Much craftier than I thought. I thought he was quite ordinary actually but he fought a very good fight. Tactically he was very smart in that fight. Again, I thought Miguel out-boxed him but (Alvarez) landed the bigger shots in that fight and maybe we needed to sit down more on the big shots.”
Smith employs a high guard, as he comes forward, and he prefers to use a catch-and-counter style. To pull the upset, he will have to be much more of an offensive initiator.
“He has to go in there thinking he’s got to knock this guy out to win,” stated Roach, who, more than anyone, understands the politics of certain promotions. It will be very difficult-to-impossible for Smith to come out of this fight winning by decision.
Regardless, Roach believes he is a live dog.
“Liam Smith is in with a warrior who can punch but Liam Smith is a tough guy – I don’t count him out. I think it’s a good bet, odds-wise. Canelo’s a big favorite but Liam’s a better fighter than I think people realize. We haven’t seen him in America much but I know him very well and he’s a very solid fighter.”
So was unified middleweight titleholder Gennady Golovkin on his death bed and emaciated prior to his bout with IBF welterweight titlist Kell Brook last weekend in London? His trainer Abel Sanchez told UCNLive.com:
“On Wednesday morning the BBBC, the British Board of Boxing Control, they have a rule that they weigh the fighter for three days before the fight and they’re supposed to weigh in no more than five pounds above he weight. They came up to the the room, woke Gennady up; he got on the scale and weighed 162.3, getting up. So he wasn’t sick; he wasn’t running. He was sleeping. So now, on the day of the weigh-in, our hotel was like 10 or 12 miles away from the weigh-in area and it took an hour-and-40 minutes to get to the weigh-in.
“So (Golovkin) was pissed off; he was frustrated. You know how it is: The guy’s trying to make weight and, even though he was on weight, he wanted to enjoy himself and go eat. So the hour-and-40 minutes really frustrated him and he really got pissed off. We got to the weigh-in. He got on a scale. He got off the scale and left. He wanted to go eat and some of the press took it as he was sick; he was hiding. He was frustrated. It was ridiculous how long it took just to get to the venue.”
Perhaps, next time, K2 Promotions rents a helicopter when in the U.K.?
Per an HBO press release:
“HBO’s late afternoon telecast from the O2 in London Saturday registered 843,000 viewers. The Gennady Golovkin-Kell Brook live fight peaked at 907,000 viewers. The late–night replay of the bout on HBO delivered an additional 593,000 viewers, generating a combined viewership number of 1,436,000 viewers for Golovkin vs. Brook on Sept. 10.
“In February of 2015 – in a live Saturday afternoon telecast from Monte Carlo, GGG registered 862,000 viewers vs. Martin Murray, peaking at 938,000 viewers.
“The September 2016 live fight from London is right on par with the last live HBO Golovkin appearance from Europe.
” (Roman) ‘Chocolatito”’Gonzalez headlining his own HBO prime time card for the first time in his fourth appearance on the network averaged 833,000 viewers for his compelling fight-of-the-year candidate with Carlos Cuadras. The title fight at the Forum in Inglewood peaked at nearly one million viewers – 951,000 viewers.
“The opening bout from California saw Yoshihiro Kamegai defeat Jesus Soto Karass in a rematch and the live bout averaged 667,000 viewers, peaking at 767,000 viewers.”
For those who missed it, here’s “Road to Canelo-Smith” on HBO:
Speaking of GGG-Brook, here’s a behind-the-scenes look at what took place last Saturday night at the O2 Arena. This has some great footage:
And yes, that is a Jon Snow sighting…I’m in Dallas and on RingTV.com alongside Doug Fischer and Beto Duran, providing daily coverage on Smith-Canelo…Here’s the latest on a potential Golovkin-Danny Jacobs bout, which is being ordered by the WBA, from the vantage point of K2 Promotions Managing Director Tom Loeffler…Here at the Gaylor Texan Resort and Hotel. Seriously, this is like a city within itself. Everything truly is bigger in Texas…So is Hector Sanchez going to really take a dive in his upcoming fight on Showtime’s “Ray Donovan”?…I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and I tweet (a lot) at twitter.com/steveucnlive. I also share photos of stuff at instagram.com/steveucnlive and can also be found at tsu.co/steveucnlive.