Canelo Álvarez, the P4P best fighter in the world, added another belt to his collection, unifying the 168-pound division. A Four-Weight World Champion, at the peak of his powers, who will knock this man off his throne?
In his third fight in 140 days, Canelo Álvarez was aiming to unify the 168-pound division with a win over Billy Joe Saunders. This event at the AT&T Stadium in Dallas was the largest indoor boxing event in American history, with a crowd of 73,126.
The fight ended with Saunders retiring on his stool after the 8th round, unifying the division and now the holder of three belts at Super-Middleweight. At the time of the stoppage, the three judges had the bout scored 77-75, 78-74 and 78-74, all in favour of Canelo. I personally had a closer fight, scoring it 76-76 after the 8th round.
The first round was fairly pedestrian, fought at Saunders’ speed, him being the busier of the two fighters in the ring. Canelo was feeling his opponent out, seeing the looks he good gets when they were trading. Canelo upped the anti in 2nd round, asserting his power shots into Saunders’ body and head. The difference in power was noticeable, Canelo’s right hands coming through and he winning the lead foot battle vs. the southpaw Billy Joe.
Across the early rounds, Canelo definitely had the better of the exchanges, putting in the cleaner better work. BJS seemed a little gun-shy but he was just biding his time, slowly acclimating to the fight. Canelo was consistently landing his power shots, backing up Saunders every time he landed big. Saunders however was biding his time, slowly getting into the fight, landing some nice combinations here and there, making sure Canelo still knew he was there.
As the middle rounds came upon us, Saunders began to land frequently, staying busy with constant punches and combinations, not allowing Canelo to keep his foothold in the fight. He consistently met Canelo in the middle of the ring, bringing the fight to Canelo, utilising the 22-foot ring to the best of his ability. Saunders’ gameplan was working and he was boxing beautifully.
Billy Joe was throwing and landing more power shots than we are used to seeing him throw, gaining Canelo’s respect in the ring. A momentum shift was apparent and Saunders was staking his claim. The halfway point was here, Saunders seemed poised and relaxed, throwing combinations, being clever with his footwork, he was asserting his dominance in the fight. His counter punches were definitely noticeable in quality, catching Canelo whenever he came into close quarters.
Canelo’s output had definitely diminished, loading up on power punches that were either not landing or landing on the gloves or arms on Saunders. The 8th was where the tuning of the tide. Canelo, halfway through the round, landed a low hook to Billy Joe’s right eye, causing swelling and bruising immediately to the area.
Canelo, noticing the fighter was hurt, began landing frequently with heavy blows, showboating to the crowd, using their energy as he looked to hurt Saunders. Saunders was in desperate need of the bell, absorbing heavy shots continuously. After the 8th, Billy Joe’s trainer Mark Tibbs halted the fight, with a suspected broken orbital bone. Tibbs wouldn’t let his fighter come out for the 9th.
It’s a shame, for a fight that both fighters were in.
Canelo’s trainer Eddie Reynoso pre-fight predicted Canelo would stop Saunders in the 8th, 9th or 10th.
In the post-fight press conference, Demetrius Andrade came in, all guns blazing causing havoc. He seems like he definitely wants the big name fight he deserves and thought this was the best was of going about that business. This would be another great fight for Canelo, however it would likely need to be fought at Super-Middleweight due to Canelo not feeling comfortable cutting the extra pounds to go back down to middleweight.
The fight that makes sense in my eyes is Caleb Plant. Holder of the last belt at 168-pounds, all Canelo needs now is the IBF title to become undisputed in the division. Plant on Twitter has called for the fight, PBC likely wanting large money fight their fighter, why not make the fight everyone needs to see? Eddie Hearn has also come out and said it’s the only fight that makes sense at 168, so why not make it happen?