Canelo celebrates with his family ❤️ pic.twitter.com/LXYrPiZAdH— DAZN Boxing (@DAZNBoxing) May 9, 2021
Canelo Alvarez vs. Billy Joe Saunders fight results, highlights: Alvarez unifies titles at 168 pounds with TKO
Saunders did not answer the bell to start the ninth round after suffering major swelling on his right eye
For all of the talk about whether Billy Joe Saunders could be the Kryptonite for Canelo Alvarez's hope of taking one step closer to becoming the undisputed super middleweight champion, Saturday's unification fight was over just as soon as it started to heat up.
After a mid-fight adjustment saw the tricky Saunders (30-1, 14 KOs) work his way back into the fight, Alvarez (56-1-2, 38 KOs) finished him off with a right uppercut in Round 8 that swelled and appeared to damage the right eye of Saunders. The native of Great Britain told his corner he could not see out of the eye and the fight was stopped by referee Mark Calo-Oy before the start of Round 9.
Alvarez, the Mexican superstar who unified Saunders' WBO title with his WBA and WBC belts, celebrated the abrupt TKO in front of an adoring crowd of 73,126 inside AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, as the fight set a new global indoor record for boxing attendance.
"I said the fight was going to develop before the 7th or 8th round and that's what happened," Alvarez said. "But it wasn't as difficult as I expected and that proves that my preparation has improved day by day."
The 30-year-old Alvarez, the sport's reigning pound-for-pound king, was leading on all three scorecards at the time of the stoppage by scores of 78-74 (twice) and 77-75. He also outlanded the 31-year-old Saunders by a margin of 73 to 60, per CompuBox, including landing 53% of his power shots.
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But Saunders, to his credit, had his moments as the southpaw shook off a slow start when Alvarez used his speed and body attack to stifle his offense by making a clear adjustment in Round 5. Not only did Saunders begin standing right in front of Alvarez by landing punches from awkward angles, his increase in swagger seemed to help his defense prevent Alvarez from landing clean.
Saunders began to establish the jab and seemed to control the next three rounds until Alvarez stepped up his output dramatically in Round 8 and the power of his shots sent Saunders into a more cautious posture.
"Not at all, [I was never hurt]. The fight, I was winning round by round," Alvarez said. "I knew my fight would develop after the sixth round yet I started adjusting pretty quick. I knew that this would be the final round."
Alvarez, who gave in to Saunders' demand for a larger ring during fight week amid threats he would quit, didn't seem surprised by Saunders' decision to stay on his stool after Round 8. Alvarez had previously called him out publicly for making a number of excuses leading up to the fight.
"I knew it. The truth is, I knew it," Alvarez said. "I think I broke his cheek and I knew he wasn't going to come out. I got to the corner and told [trainer] Eddy [Reynoso] he wasn't coming out because I broke his cheek and that was it."
Elsewhere on the card, Elwin Soto retained his WBO junior flyweight title with a ninth-round TKO victory over Katsunari Takayama. The win itself was not all that surprising given Soto was a massive favorite over the Japanese fighter who came out of retirement to face him. But the shock came when the two were exchanging well late in the fight and referee Laurence Cole stepped in and waved it off. Takayama was never dropped or seemingly badly hurt in the fight, showing off his moves after the stoppages for the cameras. Soto moves to 19-1 in his career with 13 TKOs.
CBS Sports was with you throughout the entire way on Saturday, so be sure to follow along with the live results and highlights below.
Fight card, results
- Canelo Alvarez (c) def. Billy Joe Saunders via eighth-round TKO (corner stoppage)
- Elwin Soto (c) def. Katsunari Takayama via ninth-round TKO (referee stoppage)
- Souleymane Cissokho def. Kieron Conway via split decision (92-97, 96-93, 95-94)
- Frank Sanchez def. Nagy Aguilera via technical decision (60-54, 60-54, 60-54)
Canelo vs. Saunders scorecard, live coverage
The uppercut that secured Canelo the victory 💥— DAZN Boxing (@DAZNBoxing) May 9, 2021
According to Eddie Hearn, Billy Joe Saunders busted his eye socket and his trainer refused to let him go back out. pic.twitter.com/72eH1e4tCC— DAZN Boxing (@DAZNBoxing) May 9, 2021
"I said the fight was going to develop before the 7th or 8th round and that's what happened. But it wasn't as difficult as I expected and that proves that my preparation has improved day by day." -- Canelo Alvarez
CANELO IS FREAKING HYPED 🗣️ pic.twitter.com/RRSwgsDiPY— DAZN Boxing (@DAZNBoxing) May 9, 2021
"I'm coming, my friend!"— DAZN Boxing (@DAZNBoxing) May 9, 2021
Canelo has his sights set on Caleb Plant 👑 pic.twitter.com/xGqBY9Qqrm
Billy Joe Saunders' eye 😬 pic.twitter.com/fAUPdQ8v0z— DAZN Boxing (@DAZNBoxing) May 9, 2021
The Scorecards 👀 #CaneloSaunders pic.twitter.com/9uzab7evNd— DAZN Boxing (@DAZNBoxing) May 9, 2021
A chorus of boos comes over Saunders as he sits on his stool with a towel over his head.
It appears like Saunders may have an injured right eye. The crowd is booing him for not getting off his stool. The two fighters embrace in the center of the ring. Either way, he never answered the bell. It's a TKO as Canelo rolls on.
Just like that. Saunders has a swollen left eye and it looked like he didn't want it anymore.
And Canelo is celebrating in his corner. Saunders never got up off his stool to start the round. What a wild turn of events. It's a TKO for Alvarez.
ACTIONS SPEAK LOUDER THAN WORDS pic.twitter.com/zeo8S4A4VC— DAZN Boxing (@DAZNBoxing) May 9, 2021
R8: Alvarez hits a straight right hand. The crowd rises to its feet. They can sense something. Left uppercut hits for Alvarez. He is making his move in a big way. 10-9 for Canelo.
R8: Saunders' right eye is now a swollen mess. Canelo motions for the crowd to pick things up and Alvarez walks him down. Good right hand to the body. Alvarez taunts his foe and lands a looping right hand.
R8: Good right hand from Canelo but he's unable to use his jab to set anything else up. Nice counter right uppercut from Canelo causes Saunders to stumble back before holding on. That was a big punch.
ROUND 8: You can feel like this will be an important round in terms of momentum. Saunders has an edge to him and is mixing up his angles and forcing clinches to lean all over Canelo.
Body Shot 💥 pic.twitter.com/P9nDEq5v44— DAZN Boxing (@DAZNBoxing) May 9, 2021
R7: Close round. Edge it to Saunders, 10-9 (67-66 Canelo thru seven)
R7: Good right hand from Canelo as he uncorked it from an awkward side angle.
What a round this is what you call a fight! I have not seen give anyone give Canelo a fight since GGG— Claressa Gwoat Shields (@Claressashields) May 9, 2021
R7: Saunders is touching him nicely from different angles. He's looking to win these rounds with clean and effective punching and it's working. Not a ton of power on them but he's mixing up movements to make Canelo move his feet.
R7: They trade shots inside. Quick jabs from Saunders land in close. BJS drops back to hold distance and scores another stiff jab. Canelo answers with an uppercut. This is high level stuff.
ROUND 7: Adjustments are the key to victory for any great champion. Let's see if Canelo can strike next and get BJS off his game. Saunders covers up to absorb a pair of Canelo right hands against his guard.
I've got it 58-56 for Canelo at the midpoint.
R6: Big shots from Canelo but they are mostly blocked. Another round for Saunders, 10-9 (58-56 Canelo thru six rounds)
R6: Saunders is commanding the center of the ring and making Alvarez miss. This is a huge change from the early going. Good defense from Saunders as Canelo looked to load up. Saunders taunts with his tongue out and the crowd doesn't like it.