In the biggest fight in the US on Saturday, Colombian Eleider Alvarez and American Joe Smith Jr. will square off on ESPN in a battle of No. 3 vs. No. 4 for the light-heavyweight title. The belt was vacated by Canelo Alvarez following his win in November over Sergey Kovalev. In order to award a new champion, the WBO set up a four-man tournament to find a new title holder. The loser will be removed from the equation at MGM Grand today.
Whoever wins this fight, is expected to meet with one of two Russians, Umar Salamov and Maxim Maslov. The belt will be awarded following the winner of that fight. It’s not going to be easy for Alvarez or Joe Smith Jr. to beat either of those tough boxers, but surely not an impossible task.
It would have been nice to have fans in attendance at the MGM Grand Garden Arena, but the fight is of course closed off to the public. The MGM is open in Las Vegas, so people can at least watch it on TV outside of the arena if they want to feel close to the fight. All shows and entertainment has been halted in Las Vegas until the coronavirus situation improves. This big fight will still move ahead, though.
Alvarez, the No. 3 fighter in this mini tournament, hopes to avoid being upset against Joe Smith Jr. Smith Jr. certainly has the talent to do it, and he’s scored bigger upsets in the past. A win over heavy favorite, Andrzej Fonfara, in 2016 put him on the map. He fought Bernard Hopkins in the final fight of his career in 2016, which resulted in a win as well. Hopkins had two feet out the door by the time that fight happened, though.
Smith Jr. goes into Saturday night with a record of 25-3, 20 of which were KOs. He throws a heavy punch, but knocking out Alvarez is not going to be so easy. It’s a daunting task against one of the best fighters he’s fought in his career. Alvarez has a record of 25-1 with 13 KO’s on his resume. Head below for our free Eleider Alvarez vs. Joe Smith Jr. pick for August 22, 2020.
Eleider Alvarez vs. Joe Smith Jr. Top Rank Boxing Betting Odds:
Eleider Alvarez vs. Joe Smith Jr. Prediction:
Eleider Alvarez and Joe Smith Jr. both have a couple of stunning wins on their resume from recent memory. Alvarez beat Sergey Kovalev in an upset in 2018, and Smith Jr. over Andrzej Fonfara in 2016. The Alvarez win was an absolute clinic, as he knocked Kovalev over three times to win by knockout. That certainly wasn’t expected from the Colombian. In a rematch, Kovalev responded for a win by UD at the Ford Center in Texas on February 2, 2019, which still counts as the only loss of Alvarez’s career.
I would put Kovalev as the better fighter, and I think he was able to showcase that there. However, Alvarez was able to bounce back in nice fashion against Michael Seals on January 18. That fight was for the vacated WBC Continental Americas title. Alvarez wore Seals out and then connected for a KO in the seventh round. All roads were leading to a Alvarez knockout in that fight. Seals was exhausted and only got 5 seconds in the round before getting put down on the mat. I don’t know if Alvarez catches Smith Jr. with a knockout, but he’s likely going to wear him down as well.
The speed of Alvarez in the ring is probably going to be too much for Smith Jr. to keep up with. He’s had problems with that in the past, albeit, Smith Jr. throws a heavy punch and has to hope one of them lands squarely to hurt Alvarez. 20 of his wins have been by knockout, so the power is there for Smith Jr. The native of Long Island has gone 2 for 4 in his previous four bouts. His most recent loss was by UD against Dmitry Bivol on March 9, 2019 for the WBA light heavyweight title. That was a tough matchup for Smith Jr., and this should be difficult, too. You have to pay a heavy price for an Alvarez ticket, but it looks like the right side.