The Citizen (Gauteng)

‘Canelo’ adds another title

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Arlington – Saul “Canelo” Alvarez (above) stopped Billy Joe Saunders in eight rounds on Saturday to unify three super middleweig­ht titles in front of the largest US crowd in history to watch an indoor boxing event.

Four-weight world champion Alvarez retained his World Boxing Council and World Boxing Associatio­n titles and seized Saunders’ World Boxing Organizati­on belt when the previously undefeated Briton retired on his stool after taking a beating in the eighth round.

Alvarez won by technical knockout after Saunders’ corner called a halt in front of 73 126 fans at AT&T Stadium, which was also the biggest to watch an American sports event since the coronaviru­s pandemic.

Saunders didn’t budge from his stool saying he couldn’t see out of his right eye which was badly swollen from Alvarez’s precision blows.

Alvarez could sense victory in the eighth as he chased the southpaw around the ring waving his arms in the air as if to let the pro-Mexican crowd know that the end was near.

“I knew it,” Alvarez said. “I think I broke his cheek. He didn’t come out to fight because I broke his cheek.”

Saunders headed from the ring to the hospital to get medical treatment on his injured eye.

The previous largest indoor crowd for a boxing card in the United States had been 63 350 for Muhammad Ali’s rematch against Leon Spinks in 1978.

Alvarez, who improved to 561-2 with 38 knockouts, was ahead on all three judges’ scorecards, 78-74, 78-74 and 77-75, when Saunders didn’t come out for the ninth round.

The 31-year-old Saunders, who dropped to 30-1 with 14 KOs, had during fight week argued, and won, his case to increase the size of the ring from 20 feet to 22 feet.

But no amount of extra space was going to allow him to escape Alvarez’s devastatin­g punching power.

The victory serves as another step in Alvarez’s quest to dominate the 76-kilogram division.

The Mexican pound-for-pound king’s only career loss to date came as a 23-year-old when he dropped a majority points decision against the legendary Floyd Mayweather Jr in 2013.

The one remaining title for Alvarez to win in the super-middleweig­ht division is the Internatio­nal Boxing Federation belt held by unbeaten American Caleb Plant, 21-0 with 12 knockouts. –

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