It definitely wasn’t easy tonight for Canelo Alvarez, but he did as he said he would, stopping Billy Joe Saunders after the eighth round to retain the WBC and WBA super middleweight titles, and pick up the WBO belt from Saunders.
Saunders (30-1, 14 KO) fought a solid fight here, and it wouldn’t have been hard to have him up on the cards, though Bad Left Hook had Canelo (56-1-2, 38 KO) up 77-75 on two separate unofficial score cards.
But Saunders was hurt in the eighth round, cut under his right eye, and it quickly began swelling shut. In the corner between rounds, the Saunders corner stopped the fight as the swelling got worse.
Saunders did do some good work, particularly defensively by making Canelo more obviously miss than most opponents can. But Alvarez was landing good, hard body shots in several rounds, while Saunders was possibly nicking some rounds on activity and some good work behind the jab. Saunders also put together more combinations than most do against Canelo, but it was still tough sledding, and Alvarez had a clear power advantage throughout the fight.
“It was not as difficult as I expected,” Alvarez said through an interpreter. “I was winning round by round. I told you might fight would develop after the sixth round, but I adjusted really quickly. I think I broke his cheek and I knew he was going to come back out. That was it.”
Canelo said directly that the idea now is to fight IBF titlist Caleb Plant and look to fully unify the super middleweight division.
“That’s the plan, to go for the (IBF) belt. I’m coming, my friend,” Alvarez said to Plant, this time in English. “I hope the fight is easy to make and we can give the fans that fight.”
“It’s the only fight, and hopefully Caleb Plant feels the same way,” promoter Eddie Hearn said about Canelo-Plant. Asked about Saunders, Hearn said, “He couldn’t see. I spoke to his trainer and he wouldn’t let him come out. He busted his eye socket. But it was a great performance from Billy Joe Saunders, he came to win.”
Canelo's head movement is already on point pic.twitter.com/snsNewb6YE— DAZN Boxing (@DAZNBoxing) May 9, 2021