By Mark Elezaj
ARLINGTON, Texas — WBA/WBC super middleweight champion and the reigning pound-for-pound king, Canelo Alvarez (56-1-2, 38 KOs) scored an eighth round TKO victory over WBO super middleweight champion Billy Joe Saunders (30-1, 14 KOs) on Saturday night at AT&T Stadium.
In the first round, Saunders came out working off of his jab with little in return from Canelo, who started off slow, throwing just a handful of left hands to the body.
In the second round, Canelo became more aggressive, moving forward and using feints to get into range. Saunders would respond and engage with Canelo, but would back off and move around the 22 foot ring when Canelo fired back.
Canelo landed a big right hand on the side of Saunders’ head with just over a minute to go in the third round. Saunders, who shook his head to indicate that he was not hurt from the punch, continued to work off of the jab and keep his distance from Canelo.
In the fourth round, Canelo started to land right uppercuts to the body. Saunders would respond by working off of his jab, throwing a few combinations and keeping Canelo at a distance.
Saunders did his best work in round five, landing a good left hook to the body while snapping Canelo’s head back with a solid jab. However, Canelo continued to move forward, looking to attack the body.
In the sixth round, both men came out throwing punches. Canelo continued to attack the body while Saunders would counter him well in return. Saunders then landed a left to Canelos’ body followed by another left up top.
In the seventh round Saunders came out and began to land several jabs at Canelo’s head while box his way into a competitive fight.
Canelo responded in the eighth. He began to attack Saunders and land with ease, including a huge right uppercut that caused Saunders right eye to swell up quickly. Saunders went into survival mode for the final minutes of the round.
Saunders corner began to work on his right eye between rounds. Saunders’ trainer Mark Tibbs informed referee Mark Calo-oy that Sainders’ would not be able to continue because he couldn’t see out of his right eye.
Official scores were 78-74, 77-75, 78-74, all for Canelo.
The fight was held in front of 73,126 fans, making it the largest crowd for an indoor boxing event in United States history.
The record crowd surpassed the previous record of 63,350 when Muhammad Ali defeated Leon Spinks in their rematch in New Orleans in 1978.
With the victory, Canelo now holds three of the four belts in the 168-pound division.
According to his promoter, Saunders was taken directly into an ambulance and was suspected to have a broken orbital bone.
“I knew this would be final outcome,” Alvarez said through a translator in his post fight interview. “I knew it. I think I broke his cheek and knew he wasn’t coming out of the corner. I told Eddie [Reynoso] he wasn’t coming out because I broke his cheek. I knew it was it.”
“I said the fight was going to develop before the 7th or 8th round and that’s what happened,” Alvarez said. “But it wasn’t as difficult as I expected and that proves that my preparation has improved day by day.”
Canelo, who now holds the WBO, WBA and WBC titles at 168 pounds already has his eyes set on his next target.
“The plan is to go for all the belts, I’m coming for Caleb Plant,” Alvarez said after the win, per the DAZN broadcast.
“I’m coming, I’m coming my friend. I hope that fight can be made.”
Plant, who is also undefeated, has held the IBF belt since 2019.
After the fight, promoter Eddie Hearn confirmed Saunders “couldn’t see out of his eye” and said that the plan is for Canelo to face Plant next, which would give him a shot at unifying all four major titles in the super-middleweight division.
~ The Fighting Voice ~