Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez stopped rival Caleb Plant in the eleventh round
to make history and become the first undisputed super middleweight
world champion at the sold-out MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas to
set up a huge trilogy fight with Gennady Golovkin in May next year.
The Mexican boxing star, regarded as the pound for pound No 1 pugilist
in the sport, found the perfect foil in Plant, defending his IBF
crown, but Canelo’s power and punch output throughout the fight saw
him ahead, culminating in a vicious end as he retained his WBC, WBO
and WBA titles, and claimed his foe’s crown.
It was a left hook in the eleventh round that signalled the end for
the game American. A huge uppercut followed and put Plant on the
canvas for the first time in his career. He regained his feet, but was
soon under a hail of punches, referee Russell Mora stepping in to
signal Plant’s first defeat in 22 professional fights.
“It hasn’t been easy to get to this point, but with your support, my
family and my team we’ve gotten really far,” Canelo said in his
post-fight interview, the 31-year-old’s record now 57-1-2, with 39
knockouts, and that solitary defeat to Floyd Mayweather Jr eight years
ago. Canelo continues his rise as a growing global star and
four-weight world champion.
“This is for everybody, especially for Mexico,” said the flame-haired
fighter. “This is another one for our team. We did it tonight.”
Canelo also quashed the beef that had seen the two 12st fighters come
to blows in the build-up. “Caleb is a good fighter. I have a lot of
respect for Caleb Plant. He was a difficult opponent with a lot of
ability and I do respect him. We are both men at the end of the day.
He wanted to fight me and still continue. I told him there’s no shame.
We had a great fight tonight.”
Canelo dismantled Plant into the championship rounds with a succession
of body shots: 53 of his 117 landed punches were to the body, with 40
percent of his power shots finding their target. Nine of 14 power
shots hit home in the denouement in the 11th round.
Following the bout, Plant was taken to University Medical Center as a
It was a moment of history for Canelo, who, in addition to becoming
the first undisputed 168-pound champion, the Mexico native is just
the sixth male undisputed champion in the four-belt era and the first
undisputed champion from his country. “This means so much for the
history of Mexico to become an undisputed champion,” explained Canelo.
“There are only six undisputed champions in history. It keeps me happy
and very motivated to be one of the six.”
Attention now turns to Canelo’s next move. Last week the standout
fighter told The Daily Telegraph that he “could not think about other
challenges” but wanted “the biggest fights”. That could be a step up
to light heavyweight – where he has already won a belt with victory
over Russian Sergey Kovalev – or a third fight with Kazakh Golovkin,
who many feel Canelo lost to in a diabolical night of judging in Las
Vegas in September 2017 which ended in a highly controversial split
draw. Your correspondent scored the fight to Golovkin. Canelo won the
second fight, also close, a year later back in Sin City.
Golovkin will fight Ryota Murata in December 2021. If successful,
Golovkin will be a unified middleweight champion once again.
Canelo, who has beaten seven British fighters in his 16-year career –
Ryan Rhodes, Matthew Hatton, Amir Khan, Rocky Fielding, Liam Smith,
Callum Smith and Billy Joe Saunders – has said that he “would love to
fight in the UK”. That could even become a reality in 2022, with
Briton Zach Parker, who won on Saturday night in Birmingham with a
impressive early stoppage victory over Marcus Morrison, in position as
No 1 challenger to Canelo’s WBO belt. Frank Warren, Parker’s promoter,
said yesterday: “Zach has risen up unnoticed, and was fantastic
against Morrison. He’s there, he’s ready and he will become mandatory
for that WBO title. It’s a possibility next year.”