The two super welterweights are scheduled to fight on September 17 in Las Vegas with Smith’s WBO strap the prize on offer. It is a golden opportunity for Smith (23-0-1, 13 KO) who will face one of the sport’s marquee names, having already made two successful defences of the belt he won against John Thompson in 2015.
Two-weight world champion Alvarez (47-1-1, 33 KO) – who most recently stopped Amir Khan – will go in to the fight as a huge favourite and Rhodes, one of his former opponents, think it is more than justified.
“Smith may be the champion but this is a tough, tough fight for him’” Rhodes exclusively told World Boxing News.
“Canelo is the best light middleweight/middleweight out there and Liam is really up against it.
“Liam s great technically but I’m not sure whether he has the power to keep Canelo off for twelve rounds, it may be a similar fight to the Khan bout where it is just a matter of time before the Mexican catches up with him and starts landing.
“If Liam is to win he needs to have a similar game-plan to what Khan had and start with plenty of movement and fast hands. The key is to not hang around and get caught and stick to the boxing. As soon as you let Canelo plant his feet and land power shots, the fight could be over before you know it.”
The fight will be Smith’s first outside of Great Britain as a professional, but Sheffield’s Rhodes does not think that it will affect the Liverpool champion.
“Liam is a very good and capable professional and was a good amateur. Going abroad won’t phase him at all and he will handle it well,” Rhodes continued.
“The only time that may be daunting is when he walks out into the arena and sees all of Canelo’s fans there, but I’m sure he will enjoy the moment.
“I have to give massive respect to Liam for taking this fight and I hope he boxes to his best ability – I’m sure trainer Joe Gallagher will have a fantastic plan like he always does. I wish him the best, but I just think it’s one step too far and Canelo will come out as champion.”
Matt Horan is lead writer for WBN. Follow on Twitter @mhoran123