CANELO VS. SMITH
There are several methods of determining who is and who isn’t a superstar. One way is the person in question’s ability to draw spectators to his public appearances like moths to a flame.

On that count, Canelo Alvarez (47-1-1, 33 KOs) is not only a superstar, but the superstar in boxing, a fact that will again will be made abundantly clear when he challenges WBO super welterweight champion Liam “Beefy” Smith (23-0-1, 13 KOs) tonight in AT&T Stadium, home of the Dallas Cowboys.

Oscar De La Hoya, who knows a thing or two about what it’s like to be a superstar, is predicting a turnout of 60,000-plus for the fight, which will be televised via HBO Pay Per View. The matchup – focal point of the area’s celebration of Mexican Independence Day weekend -- is an event, despite the fact that few American boxing buffs know much about Smith, a 28-year-old native of Liverpool, England, whose first fight on U.S. soil would not be met with the same frenzy as the Beatles’ Feb. 7, 1964, arrival in New York for the Ed Sullivan Show except for one thing: he is squaring off against Canelo, the red-haired, 26-year-old Beatle equivalent from Guadalajara, Mexico.

“We felt that, coupled with the festivities of Sept. 16 Mexican Independence weekend, this fight should be an event,” said De La Hoya, the former 10-time world champion in six weight divisions and CEO of Golden Boy Promotions, which promotes Alvarez. “When you’re going to have more than 60,000 people in the Dallas Cowboys’ stadium, for the championship fight between Liam Smith and Canelo Alvarez, it’s definitely a huge event. That’s exactly what (Cowboys owner) Jerry Jones and Golden Boy wanted to stage.”

This will be Alvarez’s third bout in the state of Texas, which, along with Las Vegas, is becoming something of a home away from home. And his popularity here appears to be growing by leaps and bounds; he drew 39,243 fans for his April 20, 2013, unanimous decision over Austin Trout in San Antonio’s Alamodome and 31,588 for his May 9, 2015, third-round knockout of James Kirkland in Houston’s Minute Maid Park.

But it is not just Alvarez’s charisma that keeps the crowds coming back for more, and in ever-larger numbers. He is a boxer-puncher who can outslick the dandies, a la Trout, and bang with the bangers, as he so forcefully demonstrated with his brutalization of Kirkland, which was The Ring magazine’s Knockout of the Year for 2015. After he starched Kirkland, noted boxing analyst Teddy Atlas declared that the victory stamped Canelo “as the next pay-for-view god or emperor, however you want to call it. That crown would have to be put on his head if you’re going to put it on anybody.”

In a manner of speaking, Alvarez will kayo another PPV god/emperor if De La Hoya’s projections are anywhere near accurate. Manny Pacquiao, the “Fab Filipino” (there’s another Beatles reference) drew throngs of 50,994 and 41,734, respectively, for the only two previous fight cards staged at AT&T Stadium, then known as Cowboys Stadium, for unanimous decisions over Joshua Clottey and Antonio Margarito, both in 2010.

Although not nearly as well known in the U.S. as he is in England, Smith doesn’t figure to be easy pickings for Alvarez (a former WBC/WBA super welterweight and WBC middleweight champion and current lineal and Ring Magazine middleweight titlist who is returning to his natural 154-pound weight class) despite the 8-to-1 odds against him.

“Liam Smith is a great champion,” Alvarez said. “He’s very strong, very hungry. We know what we have in front of us.”