Saul Canelo Alvarez cemented his position as boxing’s pound-for-pound king with a brutal TKO of Billy Joe Saunders to add the WBO super-middleweight title to his WBC, WBA and Ring magazine belts.
The Mexican, fighting in front of a huge crowd in Texas on Cinco de Mayo holiday weekend, was leading on all three judges’ cards when he caught Saunders with a savage uppercut in the eighth round.
Saunders immediately recoiled in pain and after taking further punishment towards the end of the round, did not leave his stool to come out for the ninth. It was later confirmed that the Brit had fractured his eye socket.
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The previously unbeaten Saunders had ramped up the trash talk in the lead up to the fight, which appeared to rile the usually unflappable Canelo.
Saunders was in Canelo's back yard and felt the fury of the 73,000 crowd as he was jeered to the ring at the AT&T Stadium in Arlington.
As expected, he made a bright start and won the opening round. Amir Khan made a speedy opening against Alvarez in 2016 only to be knocked out cold in round six.
'Canelo' Álvarez puede con Billy Joe Saunders
Image credit: Getty Images
Canelo is a more complete fighter now than when he fought Khan, or when he suffered his only defeat to Floyd Mayweather Jr in 2013, and he gradually cut off the ring to nullify Saunders’ movement.
The Mexican was always confident of being able to tame the threat of Saunders and he landed some big shots in the middle rounds before sealing the deal in the eighth.
Canelo swayed out of the way of a right hook from Saunders and with his opponent’s chin exposed, he delivered a devastating right uppercut to the right side of the Brit’s face and that proved the final act.
Saunders did not get off his stool for the ninth, with the fight waved off, much to the delight of the crowd and their hero.
The Brit’s promoter Eddie Hearn said the corner took the decision to stop the fight as Saunders was unable to see, while Canelo said he was true to his word.
“I said it would be around round eight,” Canelo said on DAZN. “It was not as difficult as I expected and that is because of my preparation. The fight, I was winning round by round and as I told you, my fight would develop by round six.
“I think I broke his cheek and I knew he wasn't going to come out. I told my corner he's not coming out because I broke his cheek.”
Canelo will now train his sights on Caleb Plant’s IBF belt, while Saunders will need to take time to regroup after such a chastening experience.
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