Callum Smith in the words of his brothers ahead of Canelo Alvarez clash

If Canelo Alvarez finds Callum Smith a bit elusive this weekend, he wouldn’t be the first.

The Liverpool fighter is the WBA super-middleweight champion and arguably the best fighter in the division.

But he has a claim to another crown. King of hide and seek, that is.

Why? Because he was so good his brothers once needed the police to help find him.

“We couldn't find him anywhere, the police had to be called,” said Smith's eldest brother Paul

“But he had hid in the downstairs toilet which was converted into a cloak room, he hid under the coats and fell asleep for four hours. “He was five and we had the police looking out for him. It was mad.”

It was certainly the only time the police had to be called for Callum Smith.

‘Not a bad bone in his body’ is how Paul describes his youngest brother.

The youngest of four boxing boys with two younger sisters, Callum is regarded as the best fighter in his family.

This weekend he has the fight of his life when he defends his WBA title against boxing's pound-for-pound superstar Alvarez with the vacant WBC strap also on the line in San Antonio, Texas.

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Anyone who knows him is aware that he hasn’t got to where he is in the sport by having a big mouth.

Quiet, unassuming and laid back are three ways of describing the 30-year-old unbeaten boxer.

“Being the youngest of four lads, he probably never got the chance to get a word in,” said Paul, who is the eldest in the family at 38.

“As a person, as a kid, as a young scally, as a teenager, as a man, as a world champion, he's just been the quietest person you've met.

“He's borderline anti-social, it's nothing personal to anyone. If he could go a day without having too many conversations he would.

“He's been like that since he was a child. My ma used to call him 'the mellow fella', dead quiet, laid-back Larry.”

“It's not shy, he's never been shy,” said Liam, 32.

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“He is just laid back. If you talk to him he will talk right back to you.

“But watch him this week how laid back he is, going into a huge fight in a crazy pandemic and he won't be bothered.”

Stephen, 35, adds: “When I was getting married and I had to pick a best man, I was going to say 'draw straws' and Callum was like, 'mate, take me out, I'm not doing no speech'.”

But away from the cameras, media and those who don't know him, there is a character as witty outside of the ropes as he is inside.

“I remember when we were coming back from the Rotunda [the boxing gym all four learned their trade in] one night and there were four of us in my Ma's car as my dad couldn't drive at the time,” said Paul.

“My da's in the passenger seat, we used to joke with my dad that he walks like he's carrying two tellies under his arms because he was a bodybuilder.

“This night he's had a bit of road rage and he's jumped out of the car and said something to the fella and the fella has s*** himself and got off.

“Callum must have only been eight or nine but he said 'Ey, them two tellies that my da carries under his arms just turned into widescreen TVs'.

“The whole car burst out laughing. He doesn't say much, when he does it's comedy.”

Stephen adds: “The one-liners he has just destroy people.”

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The “spiteful b*****” only comes out in the ring, says Paul.

Well, except that time he chucked a paving slab at Stephen when they were kids playing on their local housing estate.

“I was throwing stones at him to wind him up, to be fair,” said Stephen.

“I'm not sure if he even knew I was the other side of the bush when he chucked but it knocked me out and I had to have my head glued.”

Still, not as bad as Liam punching Popeye in the unmentionables when he was a kid and nearly forcing the family to be escorted out of Disneyland.

Back to the boxing.

Callum wasn't forced into the sport but when your three older brothers are involved it is hard to follow a different path.

Especially when the living room at their Kirkdale home in Liverpool was turned into Madison Square Garden every day after school.

The rules were simple, first two in put on the gloves, third was referee and fourth had to be the judge.

“He took beatings growing up, we never held back, we never battered him but we never went easy,” said Liam, who won the WBO light-middleweight title in 2015.

“We were a competitive family. I think sparring the way we did and everything we did growing up has helped in the long run.” Paul remembers back to those days in the living room.

“He must have been getting slapped off us and the odd dig from us from when he was about four,” he said.

“I was definitely sparring with him when he was four.”

Stephen jumps in, and adds: “If people saw what Liam and Callum did to each other they'd have locked my ma and da up.”

The parents of the boxing brothers didn't know about the sparring sessions until ornaments started getting broken and sweaty faces marked up by gloves started giving the game away.

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Callum never had an interest in another sport, while the other brothers loved playing football on the streets.

His only other passion as a kid was the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

“That's where he got his nickname Mundo from,” said Paul.

“Our da used to call him Callemundo as the fifth turtle.”

Paul was first down to the Rotunda to box with a club, followed by Stephen, then Liam and then Callum.

By the time he was putting gloves on, he had already been around the country with his dad, Paul Snr, to see his brothers win national titles.

“The pressure was on him from day one,” said Paul.

“The younger brother should be the best as he's seen the mistakes and the good things the others have done but they don't always have the ability. He's taken everything in his stride.”

Following in his brothers' footsteps helped but also hindered his progression.

He would often try to mimic their fighting styles but, as he grew through his teens, it became clear he would have two very different weapons to his siblings – height and reach advantage – as he towers over his brothers.

But being around his family gave him opportunities to learn and see how it all worked at the top level, like when Paul was training with Ricky Hatton's coach Billy Graham as a young professional when Callum was just 15.

“He was in the changing rooms when Hatton fought Kostya Tszyu for the world title,” said Paul.

“He's been around these big fights since he's been young. He was at national schoolboy finals when he was seven watching me.

“He's been absorbing everything from the small scale to the big scale.”

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Callum blossomed in his teens as an amateur, started winning national titles, earned silver at the 2010 Commonwealth Games and was robbed of a place at London 2012 Olympics.

But he turned professional with Eddie Hearn a year later, joined his brothers at Joe Gallagher's pro gym and hasn't looked back since with an unblemished record now of 27 wins.

“He took bits off of all of us coming through,” said Liam.

Callum has delivered on what his brothers declared years before that he would be the best of them all.

He followed them to win a British title meaning all four fighters in the family have reached the top of the sport in this country while matched Liam in becoming a world champion.

That happened in 2018 when he knocked out George Groves to win the WBA belt and the World Boxing Super Series tournament.

It was a lucrative prize estimated to be worth somewhere in the region of £7m in all for his three bouts in the competition. But it hasn't changed him.

“He is financially secure, but he's still the same lad,” said Liam.

“He still walks around in the same clothes he's always wore, he still drives the same car, he's never become flash, he still lives 10 minutes from my mum's house.”

Paul jumps in: “He pays a little bit more for his trainers now!

“You see boxers and footballers who have made stupid money and they're driving round in fast cars.

“Yeah, he's got a top of the range Audi, but it's not a Jag or an Aston Martin or something stupid like a Lamborghini, he's not the type of kid to do that.”

Stephen adds: “He has three older brothers to learn off which has helped him in his boxing career, but it also helps him in day to day life in terms of maturity.

“He couldn't start taking his foot off the gas and putting up daft pictures of him doing stuff with silly money because he knows his brothers would give him loads for it.

“He would get a belt off the ear from us, one off my mum as well.”

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Now for this weekend, and the huge task of taking on Alvarez who has only ever lost once in 56 professional fights – and that was to Floyd Mayweather Jnr.

The family have been here before. In the very same US state, in fact, as Liam took on Alvarez in Dallas back in 2016 and lost his WBO belt to the Mexican great in a ninth-round stoppage.

“I had a lot of success with him,” said Liam.

“A lot of my punches landed. Callum is a bigger, better version than me and a lot more power.

"I've done lots of work with him in sparring.

“I've told him things that Canelo does well, I've told him things that are weaknesses.”

If Callum wins there will be little doubt he is the best in the family, while he will enter the conversation to being one of Britain's all-time greatest super-middleweights.

“He will grow in confidence once that bell rings,” adds Liam.

“Once Canelo lands one on the gloves Callum will think 'Wow you don't hit as hard as what people think you do'.

“On punch power I would let Canelo hit me all day before Callum. Is Canelo the hardest puncher I've fought? Yes. But he's not the hardest puncher I've been hit by.

“That's Callum. He hits harder than Canelo.

“When Callum beats Canelo I'm not going to say 'Yes you got revenge for me', I'm going to say 'Yes you've beaten the best in the world and you're a huge superstar now'.”

Paul adds: “This win will take him to another level and prove what we have believed all along.

“This would put Callum up there as one of the best in the world. “Imagine the Christmas we will have if this happens.”

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Deacon Blue's Wages Day will ring around the Alamodome in San Antonio at around 4am on Sunday morning UK time as, like his brothers, he fell for the Scottish band their dad played around the house.

Mum Margaret will be back home in Liverpool waiting on news of the result as she can't bear to watch.

But she better have the kettle on for when the rest of the family get back on Monday morning.

“Callum will beat the pound-for-pound No 1 in boxing, become an absolute superstar and he will still be the same kid," added Stephen.

“He will be at home at my mum's house on Monday morning for a cup of tea.”

It would certainly taste sweet if it happens.

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