AFTER eight rounds with Canelo Alvarez, Billy Joe Saunders was retired on his stool at the AT&T stadium in Arlington, Texas on Saturday (May 8).
Alvarez had badly damaged Saunders’ right eye in that eighth round. Canelo hacked a chopping right up, jolting Saunders badly. Then Alvarez opened up with heavy punches, unleashing his cannon of a right cross to drive the Briton across the 22 foot ring and attack him on the ropes. Saunders held on to get through the round, but with his eye closing, and Alvarez up off his stool and raring to go for the next, he could not continue.
Until Canelo’s breakthrough in the eighth round it had been a competitive fight. Alvarez settled into a rhythm early on against the southpaw, targeting Saunders’ body with heavy shots. But Billy Joe relaxed himself, firing off fast combinations and catching Canelo with rapid right jabs.
Saunders was beginning to swing momentum his way, as Alvarez’s punch output began to slow down. But Canelo’s reliance on power punching paid off. He had badly damaged Saunders’ eye. Canelo was the first to realise that Saunders would not be able to contest the ninth round and he had the fight won.
“I knew it. The truth is I knew it. I think I broke his cheek,” Canelo said.
The Mexican star was ahead on the cards for all three judges at the time of the stoppage.
“I was winning round by round. As I told you my fight would develop by the sixth or seventh round but I adjusted really quick,” he continued. “It was not as difficult as I expected. I notice my preparation is good and I improve day by day.
“I have the best trainer [Eddy Reynoso], this is the best trainer that I could have.”
With more than 70,000 in the stadium this fight broke indoor attendance records for the USA. “It’s something very difficult to explain. I don’t have words for all the emotions that I feel for all the people coming out,” Alvarez said. “I want to thank everyone.”
Saunders had to be taken for medical treatment immediately after the fight.
With this victory Alvarez unified Saunders’ WBO super-middleweight title with the WBA and WBC belts Canelo already holds. He now wants to be the undisputed champion. Alvarez is targeting Caleb Plant, who has the IBF strap, next.
“That’s the plan,” he declared. “To go for the belt. I’m coming. I’m coming, my friend.”