Ironically with the announcement of there being no boxing in the United Kingdom for the whole of January, we are also left with reporting from overseas match ups from before Christmas along with the major news and big fight that launched 2021. There was not a lot going on in the UK before the end of the year, though to be fair, the promoters in the UK and abroad have done a sterling job in keeping the sport relevant and going.
The end of year treat served up on Saturday the 19th of December was in San Antonio, Texas where the battle of all battles was the super middleweight action fight for the WBA title between Callum Smith and Saul Canelo Alvarez.
I thought Smith needed to fight like he never has before, but he didn’t: then again, he was hardly allowed to. Alvarez was exceptional. A marker had been set down by other superstars. The night before Golovkin had shown he was back at his best, though his opponent was no Callum Smith. Vasyl Lomachenko had shown how to lose a crown though his opponent was not believed to be the equivalent of a Callum Smith.
From the first bell until the last, Saul “Canelo Álvarez showed what a skilled craftsman can do against a man of the calibre and power of Callum Smith. There are few words to accompany such a devastating performance but to say that we witnessed the best pound for pound fighter in the world.
He took the titles, he took the crown, he took your breath away.
Smith shall come back. Alvarez may have another Brit in John Ryder to face next to defend the titles, but Smith needs to find, within himself, the man who had no silk pyjamas to regain his place at the top table.
On the same night in Kinshasa, in The Democratic Republic of Congo, the WBC cruiserweight title was retained by Ilunga Junior Makuba against Olanrewaju Durodola with a seventh round stoppage. I would love to see Makuba back on these shores in a title fight.
Then on the following Sunday, the 20th December in Cologne, super middleweight Christina Hammer and Sanna Turunen fought for the WBC and IBF female titles. Hammer knocked out Turunen in the seventh round for both belts.
With the big jolly red suited guy a distant memory and the hangovers of muted New Year celebrations in our heads, we then went to Dallas.
On Saturday the 2nd of January the IBF title which was on the line between Felix Alvarado and Deejay Kriel at light flyweight saw the first Alvarez twin stop Kriel in the tenth round in a pretty impressive stoppage. The second twin, Rene Alvarado at featherweight was not so good against Roger Gutierrez for the WBA title and following being dropped by Gutierrez in the third and twelfth rounds had lost too much ground to beat the points win for his opponent.
Top of the bill was the WBA lightweight fight between the Olympic Gold medallist Luke Campbell and much hyped and highly pumped social media star, Ryan Garcia. Garcia felled Campbell with a wicked body shot in the seventh round. Campbell had sent Garcia to the canvass in the second and many felt he had not pressed his advantage well enough to finish Garcia off, leaving himself exposed to what was to come. The thing was, Garcia was good. Garcia was very good. Garcia, in a highly competitive division might well be on his way to becoming, like his gym mate, Canelo, quite the superstar… It was that good a start to the year.
As for Campbell, though this was for an interim world title, it was his third attempt at world honours. Few people get a fourth or even a fifth. There are big fights out there for him and I would love to see him back in the ring – he is a great watch. He does need, however, to rebuild and under the current sets of circumstances with limited opportunities to get on cards and bills, that might be very difficult.