Canelo Alvarez faced off against Billy Joe Saunders Saturday night in front of 70,000 fans at AT&T Stadium, in Arlington, Texas. Canelo-Saunders did not disappoint. After eight rounds a clearly pummeled Saunders could not get off his stool due to a fractured orbital bone in his eye. The fight was called with Canelo victorious and claiming three of the four super-middleweight titles. Yet, last night seemed like more of a culmination of a series of events for Canelo. One that has seen him transcend the political structure – or perhaps – obstruction that pervades the sport of boxing.
However, first the fight. The first round was clearly a feeling out round, Saunders peppering a few jabs, while Canelo walked him down and began to launch his body attack. By rounds two and three Canelo was shortening the distance and landing thudding body punches, with several left hooks to the body landing and Saunders visibly wincing in pain.
The momentum of the fight seemed to change in the fourth round. Saunders landing more jabs and putting together combinations. A trend that continued in rounds five and six. Saunders throwing punches in combinations, countering Canelo and even making Canelo miss some pretty big power shots. Saunders was clearly in a rhythm and he even dared fight with his hands at his side. At this point many had the bout an even affair.
However, boxing is all about making adjustments. The great fighters can make adjustments during a fight and Canelo did just that. By round eight he doubled down on power shots and landed a right hook to Saunders face that immediately created swelling. Saunders was visibly hurt. Canelo went in for the kill, following up the shot with an attack to the body while simultaneously egging Saunders and the crowd on. Canelo knew he was in control. Although Saunders made it through the round. He could not continue after the break. Leaving Canelo with an eighth round TKO.
The victory gets Canelo more than just additional titles. As noted prior, it seems to be the culmination of a series of events put in play by Canelo. Events that have resulted in Canelo rising above the political, power and business plays the sports power brokers impose upon their labor force. First, back in 2020 he successfully sued his promoter Golden Boy and streaming platform DAZN, to break free of both and become a free agent. This left him free to sign with the highest bidder for his services. He then formed his own company. Thus far they have partnered with Match Room Boxing, who have promoted his last three bouts.
Also, the once reserved star is no longer biting his tongue when adversaries look to employ their parlor tricks to diminish him. He called Saunders out for his last second request for a bigger ring, but granted it. At the post fight news conference, middleweight champion Demetrius Andrade made an unexpected appearance. Andrade has long complained that the sport’s top fighters, including Alvarez, have avoided him. Alvarez told Andrade it was his night and made a rare switch to English to “get the f— out” of the room. Alvarez finished by singing “Payday, payday, You want a payday. I know that.”
Finally, there is the next move. Many are calling for Caleb Plant, the holder of the last title in the division that Canelo does not have. Plant is a PBC fighter. So if Canelo stays with Matchroom, that is a tough fight to make happen – again, due to the adversarial promoters. Yet, remember, Canelo is a free agent. So the Matchroom relationship is not a lock, because Canelo truly has become his own man.
See the highlights of Canelo-Saunders here.