Callum Smith on Canelo, Mayweather and why Virgil Van Dijk would make a good boxer 11 months ago

Callum Smith on Canelo, Mayweather and why Virgil Van Dijk would make a good boxer

"I don't need to tell people how good I am on social media - my fights should do that."

This Saturday marks the biggest night of Callum Smith's life so far. The Liverpudlian goes up against Saul 'Canelo' Alvarez with his WBA world super-middleweight title and the vacant WBC belt on the line.

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Canelo is regarded by many as the greatest pound-for-pound boxer on the planet, but Smith has a significant height and reach advantage. He told JOE how he was planning on putting it to good use against the Mexican.

"I know how good he is, I respect that, but stylistically, size-wise, and with the right tactics - I've got the beating of him.

"Yeah, he's achieved a lot - but I think if you look a bit closer at his fights once he started stepping through the weights, I don't feel he is as dominant the heavier up he goes."

Photos depicting Smith and Canelo stood side-by-side for the first time went viral on social media earlier this week.

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Credit: Matchroom Boxing

Smith ultimately believes his size difference will be the deciding factor on Saturday.

"Watching over the years, Canelo's had a long career, a few tough fights on the way - he's moved up two divisions.

"A bit like the Lomachenko-Lopez fight, there's only so much size your ability can make up for, and there comes a time when you reach someone who's just a little bit too big and good as well. I believe that'll be the case on the weekend."

While height and reach are an advantage, Smith knows he can't get complacent against arguably the best boxer on Earth.

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"There are gaps there for me to get him," Smith says.

"But he knows how to close the space down. People read a little bit too much into the height advantage. I've got to have more of a gameplan than to just jab and move and try to keep it long all fight."

Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Canelo Alvarez exchange punches during their WBC/WBA 154-pound title fight at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on September 14, 2013 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
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Floyd Mayweather remains the only boxer to have got the better of Canelo so far. Smith had the chance to talk to Mayweather when Smith's brother Liam lost to the Mexican back in 2016.

"Mayweather said he got the better of him only because he was young. Canelo is a special fighter."

Victory over Canelo would give Smith global superstar status - but he doesn't want any of the glitz, glamour and stardom which come with that.

"If I wanted to be famous I'd constantly be putting stuff out on social media," he says.

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"I just want recognition from peers and people in the boxing world. For people to turn around and say, 'He's a good fighter', that's enough for me."

A quick glance at the Liverpudlian's Instagram account wouldn't leave you thinking he's the highest-ranked super middleweight in the world. Most of the photographs he shares are of his family and close, childhood friends.

"I've got belts in the house, I've achieved a lot, but I don't post about them every single day. I don't need to tell people I've been training, or put old clips up and say 'Look at when I knocked him out!'

"I'm quite a laid back person outside the ring. The minute I leave the boxing gym and go home I'm good at switching off.

"It's mentally draining to think about boxing all day. Sounds stupid, but it's mentally tiring."

While he's not playing Mario Kart or hanging out with his three brothers, Smith enjoys watching Liverpool play. When the 30-year-old was asked which Liverpool player could make it in boxing, his answer was unequivocal.

"Virgil Van Dijk," he said.

(Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

"God, he's cool isn't he? He looks like one of those people that could probably take to anything. He's probably good at golf and tennis. He can probably box as well. He just seems so cool under pressure."

Smith likens Van Dijk to another sporting great, tennis icon Roger Federer.

"It's pretty much like when you watch Roger Federer play five sets and he never looks out of breath. He's just so cool, he never looks flustered. Van Dijk's like that - always calm under pressure. He has that effect on the other three centre-halves too."

Watch Canelo v Smith live on DAZN on Saturday, December 19