By Gary Purfield
The fair skinned red haired young Mexican star Saul Alvarez took another big step forward tonight absolutely dominating every round against tough veteran contender Ryan Rhodes. Most boxing experts and fans expected this to be Alvarez’s toughest test and many including this writer considered Rhodes a live underdog. That was not the case as Alvarez won every round on the way to a 12th round TKO.
Alvarez went into his toughest fight defending his WBC Junior Middleweight belt he won in his last fight against Matthew Hatton who was smaller and coming up from welterweight. In Rhodes Alvarez was facing his biggest opponent thus far considering Rhodes has fought at Jr. Middle and Middleweight. Alvarez did have the crowd considering nearly 12,000 fans turned out in Guadalajara Mexico for young fan favorite. The fans would roar whenever Alvarez exploded with a combination and often chanted his nickname Ca-nel-O, Ca-nel-O meaning cinnamon for the Mexican’s fair features.
From start to finish Saul Alvarez 37-0-1 (27 KO) dominated the fight in every way. He controlled the tempo of the fight, the distance, the pace, where in the ring they fought, and landed the harder cleaner punches in nearly every exchange. Every time HBO would post the power punch stats near the end of the round Alvarez would have over twenty shots landed to often less than five for Rhodes.
Every round mirrored each other as Alvarez stalked and landed three to six punch combinations. He out landed and outfought Rhodes 45-5 (31 KO) at every turn. The talented, slick, and somewhat awkward Rhodes could never get into a groove. He might land a decent shot here and there but was never able to mount any sustained attack. This was largely due to Canelo’s sturdy stiff combination punching that pushed Rhodes back along with Alvarez’s power that Rhodes felt early and admitted afterwards deterred his ability to execute. Overall Alvarez dominated the stats as well. He landed 219 punches to 90 for Rhodes and landed 52% of his power shots for a margin of 192 to 40.
Alvarez displays as a very good combination puncher using a mix of punches including a good jab, straight right, hooks, and uppercuts from both hands. Another key in the convincing win was Alvarez’s body punching. He mixed body punches into his combos and flurries right from the start and it took its toll on the challenger from Sheffield England as he slowed more and more each round. The Mexican youngster also seems to have improved his defense. He is not going to be mistaken for Floyd Mayweather Jr. but he did show more head movement, an ability to step back from punches, and kept his guard high. He was caught with some shots at times and will need to continue to work on protecting himself but there was an improvement from his past fights.
Heading into the final round the outcome was already decided. Rhodes was out of gas and Alvarez had won every round. The only question was if Rhodes could survive the 12th or if Canelo would turn up the heat and end matters before the final bell. Before the start of the twelfth Rhodes’s corner told him to just go for it and get knocked out because he had lost every round. He never had a chance to go for it but got the second part. Alvarez stormed the Englishman as the twelfth round started and never let up. Alvarez was landing big shots to the head with no return fire. The white towel flew from Rhodes’s corner and wisely referee Hector Afu stepped in halting the fight at 48 seconds of the twelfth and final round. Alvarez walks out with the TKO win, his WBC strap, and most importantly an exciting performance against his biggest test that will certainly continue his rise as a popular young star in the sport. Even Rhodes acknowledged Canelo afterwards saying he had lost to a superstar in the sport.
A few points I feel I need to make on Alvarez because with his rising popularity he has generated his share of positive and negative talk amongst fans.
- Is the kid already a top fighter with the Pacquiao’s, Mayweathers, and Martinez’s of the sport, of course not. He is still has a lot of growing to do and a lot to improve. I certainly will not be including him on a P4P list anytime soon. But the talk that he will be “exposed” and “overrated” is really unnecessary. The guy is a young exciting fighter. Let his career take a natural course.
- No he is not the Junior Middleweight Champ, he holds a belt. I would love to see him take on Cotto who is widely regarded as the #1 man at 154lbs right now. Puerto Rico vs. Mexico always brings the fireworks. Let the young man go to enemy territory of the vet who has earned home field and do the fight in the Garden in New York where they would certainly sell out for that fight. Of course with Cotto under Top Rank and Alvarez under Golden Boy right now this is little more than a fight fans can fight in chat rooms.
- Last point, he is not a P4P or a champion but he is very popular and very good for boxing. The sport needs young exciting fighters who put butts in the seats. Someone like Alvarez who may not be an “elite” talent is far more crucial to the sport with the attention he brings than an “elite” talent that bores fans and can’t sell tickets.
In the opening bout Adrian Broner scored a first round TKO of the “American Boy” Jason Litzau. Broner who was heavily criticized after his last bout in his HBO debut when he cautiously defeated Ponce DeLeon in a slow fight that lacked any excitement was looking to change the perception that he is a boring fighter. Broner was determined to show the last fight was an aberration and he did that in the final eighteen seconds of the first round.
The first two minutes and forty seconds of the round were cautious as both fighters have a reputation for starting slow. As it looked like the first round would close quietly Broner landed a right in the corner stunning Litzau. Broner closed in throwing a flurry of punches not allowing Litzau to escape. In the flurry Broner landed a huge right leaving Litzau out on his feet. Broner continued firing landing a left hook and right uppercut finishing his opponent who slumped to the canvas as the referee jumped in to halt the action at two minutes and fifty eight seconds of round one.
Litzau 28-3 (21 KO) from St. Paul Minnesota had been on hot streak beating Rocky Juarez and getting a big upset win over Cellestino Caballero to land another date on HBO. He will now have to regroup after a devastating loss. Broner 21-0 (17 KO) nicknamed “The Problem” from Cincinatti Ohio remains undefeated with bigger things to come for the powerful, speed, young contender.
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