Saul “Canelo” Alvarez reaffirmed his super middleweight supremacy on Saturday night with a devastating unanimous-decision victory over Jermell Charlo to retain his undisputed world title.
In a battle of undisputed champions, Mexico’s Alvarez knocked down Charlo in the seventh round as he defended his WBO, WBC, WBA and IBF belts, becoming the first to defend all four for a third straight time.
Judges Max DeLuca and David Sutherland scored it 118-109 and Steve Weisfeld saw it 119-108 for Alvarez, who was the aggressor from the start.
He sent Charlo, the undisputed super welterweight world champion, to the canvas for just the second time in his career in the seventh, rocking him with a right to the temple then following up with an uppercut that had the American sagging to a knee.
“You know, I worked all the fight to go in the body,” Alvarez said. “And then I changed the punch and that’s what happened.”
Alvarez said he’d planned to attack Charlo’s body, and he went after it early, digging in from the right and left.
“We worked for that, we worked to work in the body,” Alvarez said. “We know he’s a great fighter. He knows how to move in the ring and we worked that in the gym for three months.
“Three months in the mountains without my family, without everything. But I still love boxing,” the 33-year-old star said. “Boxing made me the person I am today. Boxing is my life.”
Charlo, fighting above the 154-pound limit for the first time, never found an attacking rhythm as Alvarez dictated the pace, effectively cut off the ring and consistently backed his opponent up.
Alvarez improved to 60-2-2 with 39 knockouts and backed up his claim that a high-altitude training camp in the California mountains had restored the fitness and strength that seemed to be lacking in two unimpressive victories over Gennady Golovkin and John Ryder since his failed foray at light heavyweight against Dmitry Bivol.
Alvarez, now looking toward a title defence next May to coincide with the Mexican Cinco de Mayo holiday, said it didn’t matter that he didn’t get a knockout.
‘The best’“I feel great,” he said. “That’s why we fight 12 rounds, right. If I don’t get that knockout I get 12 rounds to show I’m the best, right?”
“I’m the best,” Alvarez said. “Who’s better? Nobody can beat this Canelo.”
Certainly Charlo had no answer for him as he fell to 35-2 with one drawn and 19 knockouts.
“I just feel like I wasn’t me in there,” said Charlo, adding: “It’s boxing. Sometimes you win and sometimes you lose.”
Charlo, who had a height and reach advantage despite stepping up in weight, and weighed in at the same 167.4 pounds as Alvarez, barely threw a punch in the opening round, and his efforts to get Alvarez off balance proved fruitless.
Both fighters were more aggressive in the third, Alvarez connecting with a left hook to the body and right to the head before digging in with a right to the body.
The pattern continued in the fourth before Charlo had a strong showing in the fifth, finally putting together some effective combinations.
Galvanised, perhaps, by the knockdown, Charlo began to let his hands go in the later rounds. He had a strong ninth, but could do no sustained damage and Alvarez continued to land the more telling blows.
As he prepared to answer the bell for the 11th round, Charlo’s corner told him he needed something special to get the win, and it wasn’t forthcoming.
Charlo, who ended a 16-month layoff, was denied his bid to join undisputed welterweight champion Terence Crawford as the only men to claim two undisputed titles in the four-belt era.
Officially stripped of his WBO super welterweight belt once Saturday’s fight began, Charlo, still the holder of the WBA, WBC and IBF titles, said he would return to the 154-pound division.
“Absolutely,” he said, adding that he wouldn’t be hanging his head.
“I’m proud of myself. He didn’t knock me out. He hit me with some hard shots.”
Canelo Alvarez (left) hits Jermell Charlo in the fifth round of their super middleweight title fight at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. Alvarez won by unanimous decision. (AFP)