And the fight has been stopped! It was stopped by Saunders’s corner. It will go down as a technical knockout. Saunders appeared to injure his right eye, possibly his orbital bone.
Canelo picks up the pace early in the eighth and he’s hurt Saunders with a hook, forcing Saunders to take a step back. He’s hurt and possibly hurt badly. That hook from Canelo closed Saunders’ right eye and he’s in retreat and the crowd begins to swell. Saunders in big trouble here. That eye is completely shut. And this round after how Saunders built back better over the previous three: it goes to show how Álvarez is just so dangerous at all times.
Guardian’s unofficial score: Álvarez 10-9 Saunders (Álvarez 77-75 Saunders)
Well, well, well. Saunders has turned this into a very competitive fight. Álvarez has been too content to load up on the big shot, allowing Saunders to throw (and land) with greater frequency. Saunders moving and boxing beautifully, using the double jab to help negate the body attack.
Guardian’s unofficial score: Álvarez 9-10 Saunders (Álvarez 67-66 Saunders)
Saunders keeps the momentum going with another very active round. He’s throwing more punches and starting to work his way back into the fight. Canelo still landing the harder shots, but Saunders throwing and landing more throughout the sixth. A tough round to score but Saunders nicks it on our card.
Guardian’s unofficial score: Álvarez 9-10 Saunders (Álvarez 58-56 Saunders)
Better work from Saunders in the fifth as he connects with a number of left hands, including a stiff jab that snapped Álvarez’s head back. Best punch he’s landed tonight. Saunders has been more active and more accurate in this frame. Landed 11 punches compared to six for Álvarez, according to Compubox’s punch statistics.
Guardian’s unofficial score: Álvarez 9-10 Saunders (Álvarez 49-46 Saunders)
Álvarez stops Saunders in his tracks with a heat-seeking uppercut that sends the crowd to its feet. Saunders simply not throwing enough punches and failing to do anything to stem Álvarez relentless body attack. Álvarez is the busier and more effective fighter.
Guardian’s unofficial score: Álvarez 10-9 Saunders (Álvarez 40-36 Saunders)
More of the same in the third round. Saunders is scoring with the jab but he’s certianly not hurting Álvarez was it. Also, his failure to counterpunch means Álvarez can tee off on the body with no fear of reprisal. Canelo landing far more shots. He’s stalking Saunders. Cracks Saunders with a crunching uppercut. Another easy round.
Guardian’s unofficial score: Álvarez 10-9 Saunders (Álvarez 30-27 Saunders)
Canelo’s focus on the body is laid bare in Compubox’s punch statistics, which show he landed 18 body shots in the second round against Saunders who doesn’t seem particularly interested in getting out of the way. Canelo is lining up that right hand and picking away. He’s in total command and the crowd is really picking up accordingly.
Guardian’s unofficial score: Álvarez 10-9 Saunders (Álvarez 20-18 Saunders)
And we’re off! A cagey start as each fighter measures up the other in the center of the ring, Canelo’s orthodox stance mirroring Saunders’s southpaw. Saunders lands a right jab but Canelo comes back with an uppercut. A couple of thudding body shots by Canelo. Álvarez is very focused on the body in the early going and he’s landing the harder punches. Saunders’ punches have found the target but there’s really not much on them at all. Easy round to score.
Guardian’s unofficial score: Álvarez 10-9 Saunders (Álvarez 10-9 Saunders)
Now it’s Canelo’s turn. The biggest star in boxing today enters to México Lindo y Querido by Vicente Fernández, his traditional walk-out song, this time played by a full ranchero band fronted by Pepe Aguilar and flanked by traditional Mexican dancers. His faithful supporters sing along as the arena is bathed in green and red light. What an entrance.
Saunders has been standing in the right for while a while by the time Canelo finally climbs through the ropes. Michael Buffer is going through the introductions now and we should be under way momentarily, picking it up with round-by-round coverage from here.
It’s time for the fighter entrances! Billy Joe Saunders has emerged from the tunnel and is making the long walk to the ring to the strains of Spartan Soldier by Tommy Lee Sparta. A very hostile reception from the mostly Canelo fans in the building, but that was to be expected. Saunders looks very loose, very cool. This doesn’t seem like an act: he thinks he’s going to win.
Elwin Soto has defended his WBO junior flyweight title for the third time with a ninth-round TKO of Katsunari Takayama. A bit of a strange, premature stoppage by referee Laurence Cole: not only was Takayama not hurt, but he seemed to moving forward and throwing punches when Cole intervened. Nevertheless, it’s in the books and the final countdown to the main event is on.
Matchroom Boxing says it is expecting about 70,000 spectators for tonight’s show at AT&T Stadium, the 100,000-seat home of the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys. Sales were already up to 65,000 by Thursday, according to the promoter, with a healthy walk-up crowd expected.
That would be the largest ever indoor audience for a fight on US soil, eclipsing the record of 63,352 that attended the 1978 rematch between Muhammad Ali and Leon Spinks at the New Orleans Superdome. The overall American attendance record was set at the first Jack Dempsey-Gene Tunney fight in 1926, which drew a crowd of 120,557 at the old Sesquicentennial Stadium in Philadelphia.
Both Álvarez (167.4lbs) and Saunders (167.8lbs) came in under the division limit at Friday’s weigh-in outside AT&T Stadium. It was a mostly uneventful affair with not much in the way of theatrics during the traditional staredown that followed.
“I’ve been in big fights before, I have the experience to deal with it,” Álvarez said afterward in Spanish through an interpreter. “He’s a difficult fighter and a southpaw, but at this level you have to adjust to anything and everything. I’m ready for anything. I expect a hard fight, especially in the beginning rounds.”
Said Saunders, who’s been brimming with confidence throughout the run-up: “I have the belief, I have the spirit … I have the winning mentality. I don’t come here to lay down, I come here to win. I don’t think Álvarez has faced a man with as much heart and determination to win as me. It’s gonna be a good fight. He’s a great champion, but to be honest with you, I’ve come here to take all of these titles and take them by storm.”
He added: “I haven’t lost since 2008. I’m 30-0 and unbeaten. So therefore, he has to do something differently to beat me, not the other way around. … The key to this fight, obviously everyone’s got to be on their A-game and bring their best to the table. As long as I bring my fighting spirit and my brain, I’ve got it.”
Good evening and welcome to AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, for tonight’s super middleweight title unification fight between Canelo Álvarez and Billy Joe Saunders. Álvarez, boxing’s biggest star and pound-for-pound No 1, is looking to add Saunders’ WBO title at 168lbs to his own WBA and WBC straps – and the 30-year-old from Guadalajara is a hot favorite to do just that as he returns to the ring for the third time in five months.
Souleymane Cissokho has just won a split decision over Kieron Conway in their 10-round junior middleweight bout, meaning we have one undercard fight to go before the main event: as Elwin Soto defends his WBO junior flyweight strap against Katsunari Takayama in a scheduled 12-rounder. That one should be under way any moment now with Álvarez and Saunders due to make their ringwalks shortly after.