Saul “Canelo” Alvarez promised to finish the previously undefeated Billy Joe Saunders and get one step closer to becoming the first undisputed super middleweight champion in boxing history. He did just that by applying constant pressure that broke down Saunders and forced his corner to throw in the towel at the end of the eighth round Saturday night.
WBC, WBA (Super) and The Ring champion Alvarez (56-1-2, 38 KOs) added Saunders’ WBO title to his collection with a bruising performance in front of 73,126 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, a record crowd for an indoor boxing event in the United States.
The slick-boxing Saunders gave Canelo trouble with his movement and jab as his Mexican opponent was clearly in pursuit of a knockout, but without the power to keep Canelo off him, he ended up absorbing huge power shots throughout the fight.
There was a clear power difference between the fighters but Saunders managed to box well in the middle rounds and avoid taking significant damage. That all changed in the eighth when Canelo landing a blistering uppercut that immediately caused swelling on Saunders’ right eye. Saunders headed back to his corner but was unable to see out of the damaged eye, which caused his team to keep him on the stool and not let him answer the bell for the ninth frame.
Two judges had the fight 78-74 for Canelo at the time of the stoppage while the other judge saw it 77-75 for Canelo.
Canelo made it clear that he wanted to face IBF 168-pound champion Caleb Plant in September to determine an undisputed champion. There may be some politics in the way as Plant is with PBC, but with Canelo being a free agent, there is an opportunity for the fight to be made.
Round 9 (Midnight): Saunders doesn’t answer the bell! It’s OVER! Canelo by TKO!
Round 8 (11:59 p.m.): Saunders landing some jabs and Canelo needs to pick up the activity. Saunders gets cracked and takes a step back. Left hook to the body and Saunders is in trouble. Canelo is crushing Saunders! Saunders shakes his head and gets busted up again. Canelo playing to the crowd. Saunders is in trouble and his eye is swelling rapidly. Canelo is smoking Saunders now. He’s in bad shape but Saunders will survive the round . . . barely. 10-9, Canelo (78-74, Canelo)
Round 7 (11:55 p.m.): A pair of body shots from Canelo but Saunders is letting his hands go with more frequency. Canelo landing to the body again. Canelo is digging to the body. Canelo is scoring with more frequency. Right hand by Canelo lands. Saunders moving and boxing well but didn’t land enough. 10-9, Canelo (68-65, Canelo)
Round 6 (11:51 p.m.): Canelo lands a right hand to open the sixth. Saunders is a lot more fluid now. Sliding into a rhythm. Defending well. Saunders lands a double jab. Right hand by Saunders. Body shot by Saunders. Hard right hand by Canelo but it’s a one-off. Double uppercut by Canelo. They exchange hooks. Canelo closing the round strong but Saunders takes another one. 10-9, Saunders (58-56, Canelo)
Round 5 (11:47 p.m.): Canelo walks in with a straight right to the body. Saunders still trying to keep Canelo on the outside with the jab but Canelo lands a hard shot to the body again. Nice jab by Saunders. Uppercut to the body by Canelo. Left hook by Saunders lands clean. He’s building confidence. Saunders lands a few more jabs and may have taken the round. 10-9, Saunders (49-46, Canelo)
Round 4 (11:44 p.m.): Nice three-punch combination by Saunders lands. Straight right hand by Canelo lands. Left to the body and Saunders backs off. Four-punch by Saunders keeps Canelo busy. Saunders circling but takes another shot to the body. Canelo barely misses an uppercut. Uppercut CRACKS Saunders. Saunders having a good round but Canelo is landing the cleaner shots. 10-9, Canelo (40-36, Canelo)
Round 3 (11:39 p.m.): Saunders moving in and out with his punches. Left to the body by Canelo. Saunders lands a left hand. Saunders busier in this round so far. Canelo cracks Saunders with a right hand and goes to the body. Canelo is landing with a huge thud. Saunders says he isn’t bothered but it looks like he’s acting. Left hand by Canelo over the top. He’s too strong. 10-9, Canelo (30-27, Canelo)
Round 2 (11:35 p.m.): Saunders goes back to working the jab and Canelo goes right back to the body. Hard right hand by Canelo lands. And another. Saunders ties him up. Canelo putting some steam on his punches. Canelo is relentless but walks into a jab. Uppercut from Canelo. Hard right-hand staggers Saunders. Canelo is landing some hard shots but Saunders is fighting back. Another hard right-hand shakes Saunders up briefly. 10-9, Canelo (20-18, Canelo)
Round 1 (11:31 p.m.): Saunders starts by firing the jab. Misses a left hand. Canelo moving forward and closing the distance. Lands a left to the body. Uppercut by Canelo. Another body shot. Canelo is landing that left to the body easily. Another body shot. Saunders having a hard time keeping Canelo off of him but jabbing away. Another hard body shot by Canelo. Canelo’s body punching is going to be an issue if Saunders can’t stop it. Canelo, 10-9