After sitting out for almost the entirety of 2020 due to Covid restrictions, Canelo Alvarez returned to the ring on Saturday night for his third fight in five months – a throwback to the older days of superstars fighting 3-4 times a year.
Alvarez (56-1-2, 38 KOs) was defending his WBA and WBC super middleweight titles while challenging for Billy Joe Saunders’ (30-1, 14 KOs) WBO 168-pound title in front of a huge and raucous crowd of 73,126 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas for Cinco de Mayo weekend via DAZN.
The crowd was a new indoor boxing attendance record for the United States, surpassing the 63,352 that showed up to watch Muhammad Ali face Leon Spinks on September 15, 1978 for their rematch at the Superdome in New Orleans.
After a slow opening round, Alvarez began to open up in the second, landing straight right hands and attempting to work Saunders to the body. While Saunders popped off his right jab, he remained largely on the defensive until about the fifth round.
In that fifth round, Saunders landed a couple of solid left hands – easily his best punches of the fight. Having a boost in confidence, Saunders started taunting Canelo, while causing him to miss wildly with a few of his power punches.
Canelo however regained control of the tempo in the eighth round, connecting with thudding right crosses, including a punishing right uppercut that landed just as Saunders was bending down which added to the impact. Moments later, Saunders’ right eye was already starting to swell shut, punctuating the round for Alvarez.
In the corner after the round, it appeared Saunders was telling his trainer that he was having trouble seeing out of the damaged eye, and his team asked the referee to call off the fight.
Saunders was immediately taken to a local hospital to be observed for a possibly broken/fractured orbital bone.
Canelo after the fight, said Saunders wasn’t as difficult of an opponent as he thought and welcomed a challenge from IBF titlist Caleb Plant for a unification title fight.