Saul “Canelo” Alvarez promised to finish the previously undefeated Billy Joe Saunders and get one step closer to becoming the first undisputed super middleweight champion in boxing history. He did just that by applying constant pressure that broke down Saunders and forced his corner to throw in the towel at the end of the eighth round Saturday night.
WBC, WBA (Super) and The Ring champion Alvarez (56-1-2, 38 KOs) added Saunders’ WBO title to his collection with a bruising performance in front of 73,126 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, a record crowd for an indoor boxing event in the United States.
The victory wasn’t easy, however.
The slick-boxing Saunders gave Canelo trouble with his movement and jab as his Mexican opponent was clearly in pursuit of a knockout, but without the power to keep Canelo off him, he ended up absorbing huge power shots throughout the fight.
There was a clear power difference between the fighters but Saunders managed to box well in the middle rounds and avoid taking significant damage. That all changed in the eighth when Canelo landing a blistering uppercut that immediately caused swelling on Saunders’ right eye. Saunders headed back to his corner but was unable to see out of the damaged eye, which caused his team to keep him on the stool and not let him answer the bell for the ninth frame.
Two judges had the fight 78-74 for Canelo at the time of the stoppage while the other judge saw it 77-75 for Canelo.
Canelo made it clear that he wanted to face IBF 168-pound champion Caleb Plant in September to determine an undisputed champion. There may be some politics in the way as Plant is with PBC, but with Canelo being a free agent, there is an opportunity for the fight to be made.
Here’s how it all went down:
Canelo Alvarez vs. Billy Joe Saunders live updates, highlights
(All times Eastern)
Round 9 (Midnight): Saunders doesn’t answer the bell! It’s OVER! Canelo by TKO!
Round 8 (11:59 p.m.): Saunders landing some jabs and Canelo needs to pick up the activity. Saunders gets cracked and takes a step back. Left hook to the body and Saunders is in trouble. Canelo is crushing Saunders! Saunders shakes his head and gets busted up again. Canelo playing to the crowd. Saunders is in trouble and his eye is swelling rapidly. Canelo is smoking Saunders now. He’s in bad shape but Saunders will survive the round . . . barely. 10-9, Canelo (78-74, Canelo)
Round 7 (11:55 p.m.): A pair of body shots from Canelo but Saunders is letting his hands go with more frequency. Canelo landing to the body again. Canelo is digging to the body. Canelo is scoring with more frequency. Right hand by Canelo lands. Saunders moving and boxing well but didn’t land enough. 10-9, Canelo (68-65, Canelo)
Round 6 (11:51 p.m.): Canelo lands a right hand to open the sixth. Saunders is a lot more fluid now. Sliding into a rhythm. Defending well. Saunders lands a double jab. Right hand by Saunders. Body shot by Saunders. Hard right hand by Canelo but it’s a one-off. Double uppercut by Canelo. They exchange hooks. Canelo closing the round strong but Saunders takes another one. 10-9, Saunders (58-56, Canelo)
Round 5 (11:47 p.m.): Canelo walks in with a straight right to the body. Saunders still trying to keep Canelo on the outside with the jab but Canelo lands a hard shot to the body again. Nice jab by Saunders. Uppercut to the body by Canelo. Left hook by Saunders lands clean. He’s building confidence. Saunders lands a few more jabs and may have taken the round. 10-9, Saunders (49-46, Canelo)
Round 4 (11:44 p.m.): Nice three-punch combination by Saunders lands. Straight right hand by Canelo lands. Left to the body and Saunders backs off. Four-punch by Saunders keeps Canelo busy. Saunders circling but takes another shot to the body. Canelo barely misses an uppercut. Uppercut CRACKS Saunders. Saunders having a good round but Canelo is landing the cleaner shots. 10-9, Canelo (40-36, Canelo)
Round 3 (11:39 p.m.): Saunders moving in and out with his punches. Left to the body by Canelo. Saunders lands a left hand. Saunders busier in this round so far. Canelo cracks Saunders with a right hand and goes to the body. Canelo is landing with a huge thud. Saunders says he isn’t bothered but it looks like he’s acting. Left hand by Canelo over the top. He’s too strong. 10-9, Canelo (30-27, Canelo)
Round 2 (11:35 p.m.): Saunders goes back to working the jab and Canelo goes right back to the body. Hard right hand by Canelo lands. And another. Saunders ties him up. Canelo putting some steam on his punches. Canelo is relentless but walks into a jab. Uppercut from Canelo. Hard right hand staggers Saunders. Canelo is landing some hard shots but Saunders is fighting back. Another hard right hand shakes Saunders up briefly. 10-9, Canelo (20-18, Canelo)
Round 1 (11:31 p.m.): Saunders starts by firing the jab. Misses a left hand. Canelo moving forward and closing the distance. Lands a left to the body. Uppercut by Canelo. Another body shot. Canelo is landing that left to the body easily. Another body shot. Saunders having a hard time keeping Canelo off of him but jabbing away. Another hard body shot by Canelo. Canelo’s body punching is going to be an issue if Saunders can’t stop it. Canelo, 10-9
11:22 p.m.: Canelo with a full Mariachi band and fireworks on his way to the ring. Absolutely epic way to celebrate Cinco de Mayo. That’s how you make an entrance.
11:18 p.m.: As expected, Saunders is jeered throughout the arena. But the heel doesn’t care and soaks it in with some dance moves on his way to the ring.
10:54 p.m.: Canelo Alvarez vs. Billy Joe Saunders is up next!
10:41 p.m.: In an absurd finish, the referee stopped the fight in the midst of back-and-forth action. Takayama wasn’t in trouble, nor was he taking a lot of punishment at the moment of the stoppage. It was egregious to stop it at that very moment and disrespectful to Takayama, who was in a title fight and had been hurt far, far worse earlier in it. That was an awful stoppage for a Japanese legend who was fighting a lot better in the second half of the fight.
10:30 p.m.: Takayama has decided that if he’s going to lose, then he’s going out on his shield and is making this a fun fight by going on the offensive. Soto is still hurting him and nearly finished him in the sixth round, but he’s won over the fans with this effort. How much longer can it go?
10:17 p.m.: Takayama is clearly a shell of his former self as he’s taken a beating from Soto through three rounds. It’s clear that this won’t last long as Soto is looking for a brutal knockout. It should come sooner than later.
9:58 p.m.: Up next is Elwin Soto vs. Katsunari Takayama for Soto’s WBO light flyweight title. Takayama has only fought twice in nearly five years. He’s going to have his hands full with Soto, who has won 16 fights in a row since losing his third professional fight.
9:53 p.m.: Well, Conway didn’t get the finish but he closed strong. Unfortunately for him, it was too little, too late as Cissokho won a split decision with interesting scores of 95-94, 96-93 and 92-97. The 97-92 score for Conway was incredibly wide but it seems that the right fighter won despite the knockdown.
9:43 p.m.: Conway finally broke through in the ninth round with a pair of bruising uppercuts to put Cissokho down and nearly out. That finally got this crowd out of its seats. Let’s see how the final round plays out.
9:28 p.m.: Sorry, y’all. This Conway vs. Cissokho fight just isn’t fun to watch. Not a lot of punches being thrown through six rounds. More people are likely watching the SWV vs. Xscape VERZUZ battle going on than this fight.
9:10 p.m.: We’re live for Canelo-Saunders and Kieron Conway is facing Souleymane Cissokho in a super welterweight showdown to kick off the main card. Prior to this fight we had a bizarre scene when Frank Sanchez defeated Nagy Aguilera by technical decision when Aguilera decided he couldn’t continue after a right hand barely grazed the back of his head. He definitely wins the acting award for tonight but it didn’t matter because he was going to lose anyway as the judges had it a 60-54 shutout for Sanchez. The crowd wasn’t happy with that nonsense. Also, Marc Castro improved to 3-0 with a fourth-round TKO of Irving Castillo and Keyshawn and Kelvin Davis both turned in winning performances.
Canelo vs. Saunders start time
- Main card: 8 p.m. ET
- Canelo-Saunders main event: 11 p.m. ET (approximate)
The Canelo Alvarez vs. Billy Joe Saunders main card launches at 8 p.m. ET on Saturday night, with the champions expected to make their ring walks at approximately 10:30 p.m. or 11 p.m. ET, depending on the length of the earlier fights.
How to watch Canelo vs. Saunders
- Subscription: $19.99/month or $99.99/year
The Canelo vs. Saunders fight will stream live globally on DAZN, to more than 200 countries and territories, including the U.S. and Canada.
Those interested in watching the fight can find DAZN on a number of different systems, including, but not limited to, Amazon Fire TV/stick, Android, Apple TV, Google Chromecast, iPhone and iPad, Playstation 4, Playstation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S and Roku. The DAZN app is also available on LG, Samsung and Vizio smart TVs, as well as Xfinity X1 and Flex.
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Click here to learn more about DAZN.
Canelo vs. Saunders fight card
- Saul Canelo Alvarez def. Billy Joe Saunders via 8th-round TKO (3:00) to retain the WBA, WBC and The Ring magazine super middleweight titles and claim Saunders’ WBO title
- Marc Castro def. Irving Castillo via 4th-round TKO (2:04).
- Frank Sanchez def. Nagy Aguilera via technical decision (60-54, 60-54, 60-54).
- Elwin Soto def. Katsunari Takayama via 9th-round TKO (2:44) to retain the WBO light flyweight title.
- Souleymane Cissokho def. Kieron Conway via split decision for the WBA Intercontinental super welterweight title (95-94. 96-93, 92-97).
- Keyshawn Davis def. Jose Antonia Meza via unanimous decision (60-54, 60-54, 60-54).
- Kelvin Davis def. Jan Maslaek via unanimous decision (38-37, 38-37, 38-37).