Saul "Canelo" Alvarez was hopefully going to get a test tonight against Ryan Rhodes. No dice.
Instead, Alvarez pounded out 11 straight winning rounds over an opponent who seemed to have little serious interest in winning the fight, then stopped him in the 12th round when a flurry led to Rhodes' corner giving up on the fight, and referee Hector Afu stepped in to stop the charge of the 20-year-old Mexican star.
For those who are disappointed in Rhodes' performance, let me say two things:
- I apologize if I convinced anyone this would be competitive.
- I was extremely disappointed, too.
Rhodes (45-5, 31 KO) just didn't show any of what made me think he could be a nice stylistic matchup for Alvarez (37-0-1, 27 KO) in this fight. He didn't counter punch -- hell, he barely punched at all in most of the rounds. And while he didn't run and hide, and he didn't hug up on Alvarez to any notable degree, he simply didn't present resistance. At some point, Alvarez knew that nothing was coming back, and if it did, Rhodes probably wouldn't have much on the punches he did let go. Rhodes just didn't commit offensively in this fight at all.
Part of that, though, was a better Alvarez. He added some nice head movement, worked at good angles, fought extremely patiently and poised, and was simply better than Rhodes at everything except maybe footwork, which is still Alvarez's "weakness." But Alvarez was quicker than Rhodes, which even thinking his hand speed is often underrated, I didn't expect. It was almost impossible for Rhodes to do the things he could have, on paper, done to win this fight. It's hard to counter punch a guy who's quicker than you, and by a good bit at that.
I give Canelo full credit for this win, because he made Rhodes look worse than Rhodes has ever looked. Maybe Rhodes is fading and aging, and maybe the class of opponents before Alvarez was just nowhere near Canelo's level (i think that's true, for the record, after seeing this fight). But Alvarez still flat outclassed him, and he went for the knockout in the 12th round. It wasn't spectacular (or in Roy Jones land, a spectactacle), but if the fight hadn't been stopped, he probably would have done something more dramatic.
A good win for Canelo Alvarez, but at the same time, a rotten loss for Ryan Rhodes. I think a fight can be both ways -- this is one of them.