SAN DIEGO, September 18, 2016 – In front of 51,240 fans cheering him on at AT&T Stadium, Saul “Canelo” Alvarez celebrated Mexican Independence Day weekend with a dominating performance over Liam “Beefy” Smith exactly as expected on Saturday.
Alvarez (48-1-1, 34 KOs) dropped Smith (23-1-1, 13 KOs) three times before he made it stick with a tremendous left hook to the body at 2:48 of the ninth round.
PROGRAM NOTE: This fight will air on HBO next Saturday, September 24, at 10:05 p.m. (ET/PT). The HBO Sports team calls the action, which will be available in HDTV, closed-captioned for the hearing-impaired and presented in Spanish on HBO Latino. It will air air on September 25 at 11:30 a.m., and September 26 at 11 p.m. The fight will also be available on HBO NOW, HBO GO and HBO On Demand.
The writing was on the wall from the opening bell. Alvarez’s punching power and skills were apparent from the start. Alvarez landed 14 power punches in the first round, Smith just three.
Smith, 28 and fighting in the United States in an admittedly intimidating setting, settled down enough to start showing some aggression by the third round. He was willing to put himself right in front of Alvarez and take his best shot. Alvarez did not have to work at all to find Smith. Smith said after the fight he wasn’t fazed by the crowd. “The fans, they were great,” said Smith.
Trainer Eddy Reynoso told Alvarez between the third and fourth round to throw upper cuts and take advantage of Smith’s position. Alvarez mixed upper cuts with some of his best body work of his career. Smith gave it his best but he simply could not compete with the power and speed of Canelo.
Smith showed no fear of Alvarez, and he was landing shots on Canelo. He simply didn’t have enough power behind his punches to hurt Alvarez. Trainer Joe Gallagher told Smith after round six “Not every shot needs to be a home run, son.”
Smith suffered several cuts outside the right eye. They began bleeding significantly in the seventh round. It was unclear whether they were affecting his vision. Alvarez landed a hard right hand followed by a left hook to the body, topped off by another right to the head. Smith dropped to the canvas for the first time in his professional career. He beat the count, and made a valiant last stand in the middle of the eighth round. It wasn’t enough as Smith took another wicked left hook to the liver and dropped to a knee with 30 seconds left in the round.
Smith was willing to carry on, and his corner allowed him the chance. But the summation of all the power punches had taken their toll. In round nine, Smith was fighting on pure heart alone. His corner needed to give serious thought to the amount of punishment they would allow their fighter to take. Alvarez made the decision easier by tapping Smith’s head and then going downstairs with a vicious left hook body shot to the liver. The fight was over without any question at 2:28 of the ninth round. Alvarez is now the WBO junior middleweight champion.
Alvarez landed 37 percent of his total punches (157 of 422) to 29 percent for Smith (125 of 403). Alvarez landed 113 power punches to 68 for Smith, at a 51 percent connect rate.
After the fight, Smith told HBO’s Max Kellerman, “My timing was so far off, I couldn’t land anything clean. I was slow and had no timing to even make him think twice.”
“He’s a massive puncher,” said Smith later in the post-fight news conference. “I wish I could wind back the clock and do it all again. He’s got good timing, good athleticism, he’s obviously experienced at this level.”
“I want to get better and better and fight top level fighters, there’s a lot of them,” said Smith.
Canelo revealed after the fight to Kellerman he injured his right hand in the second round. “I starting controlling him but in the second round I hurt my hand.
I hurt my right hand, so I had to use my left hand more often and use my right more sparingly, so this is what happened. I felt he was very strong in the beginning, so I felt I had to put the bodywork so that slowly he would dwindle, and I did my job.” Alvarez said at the post fight news conference the injury is to the knuckle. He said it doesn’t seem to be broken, but he will have it examined by a physician Sunday.
Promoter Oscar De La Hoya said the injury could affect plants to have Alvarez fight again on December 10.
Alvarez said at the post-fight news conference he trained to work to the body in this fight. “Yes, after I hurt my hand we went to the body a little more. You have to be prepared for anything. When I hit him down there, I knew I hurt him. He was trying to hide it, but I knew I hurt him. Those body shots hurt. I said from the get go I knew he would be a tough fighter, I prepared for a tough fighter. He’s exactly what I thought. It was a little tougher with the injury, but it was a great fight for the fans.”
Kellerman asked the inevitable questions about a super fight with middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin. “I fear no one,” said Alvarez. “I was born for this. And even though many people may not like it, I’m the best fighter right now.”
When Kellerman pressed the issue, Alvarez said, “About a month ago or so, we offered him twice or three times as much to make the fight. I don’t want to say anything, because I respect all my rivals. We offered him two or three times as much, but we ready, we’re ready for him, and he just didn’t want to accept.”
Was this De La Hoya’s doing? “As I said, we are a team. We are a team and I’m not going to blame my promoter or anyone else. But I fear no one. I’m 26 years old, I’ve fought against the best in history, and like I said before, I’m the best at this moment in time. Viva Mexico!” exclaimed Alvarez.
De La Hoya reaffirmed Alvarez’s comment at the post-fight news conference. His statement in its entirety:
“Thirty days ago I made an offer to Triple G and his people, an eight figure offer. Its an offer that was two, three, even four times as much as he’s ever made. I haven’t heard back. And that’s the bottom line. Look, I want to make this fight, there’s no doubt about it. Jerry (Jones, owner of AT&T Stadium) and I were just talking for several minutes on how he would love that fight here in his stadium. I have to use one of his lines, I told him, ‘Jerry, you gotta show me the money, that’s the bottom line.’
“The bottom line, Canelo is not afraid of anybody. He’s going to fight Triple G in September. Now with his hurt knuckle, we have to go back to the drawing board and see what happens in December. His plans are to fight in Dec, and then fight in May, and then do the big fight in September. But all I need is for Triple G and his people to at least call us back and negotiate, and take the offer. Triple G mentioned that he’s not a businessman, and he’s said publicly that Canelo has to offer him two million dollars. There’s an eight figure number of the table for Triple G, let’s sign the contract and stop with this nonsense. That’s what the deal is, that’s what we have on the table. Like I said, Canelo right now is the bigger star, the fighter who delivers action packed fights.”
If the plan laid out comes to pass, Alvarez will have a fight in December, one in May 2017, and then we will see the anticipated middleweight mega fight, likely at a catchweight, a year from now. Fans can afford to be patient until then, but not a moment longer.
Gabriel Rosado and Willie Monroe Jr. suffered from failed expectations in their middleweight content on the undercard. It seems once you’ve been defeated by consensus middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin you’re never the same. Monroe Jr. (21-2, 6 KOs) prevailed over Rosado (23-10, 13 KOs) in a lackluster bout where neither man wanted to take a chance. Monroe Jr. is the better boxer, and when Rosado failed to turn the bout into a brawl, he handed it to Monroe. Monroe was able to score from a distance just enough to prevail. The judges’ scorecards gave him the unanimous decision by scores of 118-110, 117-111, and 116-112.
Monroe Jr. may be in the running as an opponent against Alvarez later this year, but if Canadian middleweight David Lemieux wins his October bout in Montreal as expected, Canelo vs. Lemieux is a far superior matchup and one fans will want to see.
Joseph “JoJo” Diaz Jr. (22-0, 13 KOs) showed his pedigree with a solid TKO victory over Andrew Cancio (17-4-2, 13 KOs). Diaz started patiently and stepped up his output, piling up the punch stats as Cancio couldn’t stop his momentum. By the sixth round, Cancio showed damage from multiple small cuts as Diaz mixed up left hooks, body shots and straight lefts.
Cancio’s pride kept him in the bout; after Round 8, his corner asked him if he wanted to continue. He did, but they never should have asked. In a post Magomed Abdulsalamov world, no fight is worth taking chances. The corner came to its senses and asked referee Gregorio Alvarez to stop it at 2:27 of Round 9. Diaz landed 192 of 336 punches (59 percent) to Cancio’s 52 of 303 (17 percent).
On the undercard, Diego De La Hoya (16-0, 9 KOs) wins the WBC Youth Super Bantamweight title and remains undefeated against Luis Orlando Del Valle of Puerto Rico (22-3, 16 KOs). Del Valle started the early rounds smartly, but he shrunk back when De La Hoya would strike and impose his power. De La Hoya deployed far more punches, scored a higher connect percentage, and landed by far the harder shots against Del Valle. He showed off a nice jab, similar to his famous cousin Oscar in his prime.
De La Hoya is fighting in a competitive division with Cuban Guillermo Rigondeaux at the top of the heap. He needs to face more challenging opposition now and there is a lot at the top levels to plow through.
Sadam Ali (22-1, 13 KOs) of Brooklyn successfully shook off his first loss against Jessie Vargas tonight with a unanimous decision against Saul Corral of Mexico (21-9, 12 KOs). It was solid if uninspiring.
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. She is also a serious boxing fan covering the Sweet Science for Communities. Read more Ringside Seat in Communities Digital News. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego. Gayle can be reached via Google +
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