Alvarez now the WBA, WBC and WBO super middleweight champion after stoppage win over Saunders
After seven rounds, the fight between champions Canelo Alvarez and Billy Joe Saunders was relatively close. Everything changed in round eight after a powerful Alvarez right appeared to damage Saunders right eye, forcing his corner to wave the fight off with Alvarez declared the winner by stoppage.
The fight began tentatively. Respect was obvious on both sides. As expected, the crafty Saunders popped jabs out of the southpaw stance. Only a few landed. Alvarez, bobbing and weaving, advanced and connected with a shot to the ribs. Seconds later he fired a right. Saunders let fly right jabs in round two.
Alvarez (56-1, 38 KOs) connected with two lead rights hands to the head. Saunders moved to his right. The Alvarez blows were obviously heavier. A one-two knocked Saunders back a step. Saunders pecked away in round three. Alvarez stalked and looked to rock. Two clubbing rights clipped the side of Saunders head.
Saunders (30-1, 14 KOs) connected with a combination in round four. Alvarez fired more right hands. One landed clean. Saunders used his legs but was scoring more. Alvarez landed an uppercut. Saunders fought back. Saunders, busier in the previous stanza, tried to outwork Alvarez. Two Alvarez rights bounced off the belly of Saunders.
Saunders connected with a left hook. Alvarez continued to work downstairs. Both fighters had found a rhythm. In round six, a confident Saunders raised his hands and waved to the 70,000 plus fans. Alvarez jabbed and went to the body. Saunders countered with a left. Alvarez clipped Saunders with a right hook.
Six rounds were in the books. Saunders came out punching in round seven. Alvarez plowed forward and let his hands go. Saunders scored with jabs. Both fighters landed hooks.
Saunders pumped his jab some more in round eight. He was effectively using angles. Alvarez exploded a hard right that landed near Saunders eye. Saunders looked hurt as he moved away. Alvarez dug to the body as the crowd roared. Alvarez opened up, connecting with hooks to head.
Saunders right eye was closing fast. The soon to be former champion told trainer Mark Tibbs he couldn’t see. Tibbs informed referee Mark Calo-oy that the fight was over.
“I was winning the fight round by round,” said Alvarez. “I knew this was going to the be final outcome. I think I broke his cheek.”
Alvarez will likely be back in the ring against fight IBF titleholder Caleb Plant in September. The bout will be his fourth in 10 months.