Canelo Alvarez stopped Billy Joe Saunders in the 8th round of their evenly matched contest.
It's a rare thing to see a fight end when a fighter predicts it, but as boxing fans can attest, Saul' Canelo' Alvarez(56-1-2, 38KOs) is a rare breed. The Mexican champion continues to blaze a trail through the super-middleweight division in his pursuit to ultimately unify the 168-pound division. The most recent hurdle in his path was the WBO champion, Billy Joe Saunders(30-1, 14KOs). The lead-up to the fight was full of controversy, with the most prominent example being Saunders' camp desire for a larger ring.
The larger 22-foot ring, which many fans predicted was so that Saunders' could use his footwork to outmaneuver Canelo, proved not to be a concern for the Mexican champion who was quoted saying that he 'didn't care about it and that he would be ready regardless. The ring didn't end up doing much for Saunders.
The fight began with a relatively calm first round, with the two fighters feeling each other out. The two fighters traded some slight jabs, and Canelo connected some power punches to an unperturbed Saunders.
As the fight proceeded, it appeared in the early rounds that the fight would follow Canelo's pace as, despite the larger ring and the quickness of the Englishmen's footwork, he was able to corner him and land big power punches. Despite taking some heavy punches, Saunders was able to continue comically taunt Canelo, smiling and sticking out his tongue.
Once four rounds came and went, the fight turned, however. Canelo had slowed down some, and Saunders was able to take the lead. He was able to utilize his southpaw edge well, and he kept Canelo at bay. Canelo appeared to struggle with the awkward lefty angles that Saunders' jabs came at, and that allowed the underdog to set up big hits in the lead up to the seventh round.
Prior to the fight, Canelo had predicted that the fight would end in either the 8th or the 9th round. Whether through sheer serendipity or careful planning and execution, the pre-fight prediction ended up coming true. The 8th round saw a turnaround for Canelo as he drastically improved his output and put the pressure onto Saunders. The famed counterpuncher finally found an opening after Saunders threw a right hook, which left him wide open. Canelo dodged the hook and answered it with a vicious uppercut which would be the fight-winning punch.
Once the two fighters returned to their corners, it was clear that the hit Saunders sustained was much more serious than it appeared, and the English fighter was unable to continue the bout.
"I knew this would be the final outcome," Alvarez said through a translator. "I knew it. I think I broke his cheek and knew he wasn't coming out of the corner. I told Eddy [Reynoso] he wasn't coming out because I broke his cheek. I knew it was it."
With Canelo now possessing three out of the four pieces of the 168lbs puzzle, it is obvious what Canelo's next destination is; he is aiming to fight the IBF belt holder Caleb Plant. It is unclear when the Plant fight can happen; what is clear is that Canelo continues to cement his status as pound-for-pound king.