Saul “Canelo” Alvarez stopped Billy Joe Saunders in eight rounds on Saturday to unify three super middleweight titles in front of the largest US crowd in history to watch an indoor boxing event.
Four weight world champion Alvarez retained his World Boxing Council and World Boxing Association titles and seized the Saunders’ World Boxing Organization belt when the previously undefeated Briton retired on his stool after taking a beating in the eighth round.
Alvarez won by technical knockout after Saunders’ corner called a halt in front of 73,000-plus fans at AT&T Stadium, which was also the biggest to watch an American sports event since the coronavirus pandemic.
Saunders sat still saying he couldn’t see out of his right eye which was badly swollen from Alvarez’s repeated and deliberate blows.
Alvarez could sense victory in the eighth as he chased the southpaw around the ring waiving his arms in the air as if to let the pro-Mexican crowd know that the end was near.
“I knew it,” Alvarez said. “I think I broke his cheek. He didn’t come out to fight because I broke his cheek.”
Saunders headed from the ring to the hospital to get his injured eye looked at.
Alvarez, who improved to 56-1-2 with 38 knockouts, was ahead on all three judges scorecards when Saunders decided not to come out of his corner.
The 31-year-old Saunders, who dropped to 30-1 with 14 KOs, argued and won his case to increase the size of the ring from 20 feet to 22 feet. But no amount of extra space was going to allow him to escape Alvarez’s devastating punching power.
The victory serves as another step in Alvarez’s quest to dominate the 168-pound (76.2 kg) division.
Mexican pound-for-pound king’s only career loss to date came as a 23-year-old against the legendary Floyd Mayweather Jr in 2013.
The 30-year-old Alvarez bided his time until he could impose his will on Saunders, who had never faced an opponent of this magnitude.
Everything changed in the eighth and the end came suddenly for Saunders as the fight came down to Alvarez’s power and speed and the boxing skills of Saunders.
But to his credit Saunders proved to be a tough opponent for the Mexican champ to catch in the early rounds.
Alvarez had his way in the eighth as Saunders tried to duck and clinch his way through the round, but the punches were too much for the Briton and his right eye was closing fast.
‘I am coming man’ –
Alvarez often brutally overpowers his opponents before knocking them out and even though that wasn’t the case this time he followed the game plan set out by his trainers to perfection.
“I said before the fight that it was going to develop by seventh and eighth round,” Alvarez said. “I was winning round by round.
“I started to adjust really quick.”
The other major champion in the 168-pound division is unbeaten American Caleb Plant, the International Boxing Federation title holder who is 21-0 with 12 knockouts.
Alvarez was fighting for the third time in six months so boxing fans know he likes to stay busy in the ring and now he wants to fight Plant as soon as possible.
“I am coming man, I am coming my friend,” he said.