Tuesday, November 30News That Matters

Canelo Álvarez Has Three Belts and All the Numbers in His Corner

“The numbers on DAZN tonight were astronomical,” Hearn said at the postfight news conference. “They’re going to have to, and they will, make a huge offer for that fight. Fox will also make a huge offer, but he’s free to make the fights he wants to make.”

In the ring Saturday night, Álvarez’s composure and precise punching produced an unambiguous result in front of a massive crowd. The attendance record for an indoor boxing match in the United States had been 63,352, when Muhammad Ali defeated Leon Spinks at the Superdome in New Orleans in 1978.

Last week, Saunders, 31, of Hatfield, England, threatened not to fight unless Álvarez agreed to expand the ring to 22 feet by 22 feet. The fighters had previously agreed to dimensions of 20 feet, but Saunders, an elusive southpaw who entered Saturday’s match undefeated, figured the extra space would benefit him.

Álvarez granted Saunders the bigger ring, then stalked him, landing heavy body shots. Saunders used the big ring to move about and box from a distance. In the fourth round, he speared the advancing Álvarez with two jabs and later landed a roundhouse left to the temple.

But Álvarez, whose record is 56-1-2, kept pounding Saunders’s midsection and trying to bait him into a mistake. In the eighth round, Saunders sprung forward to throw a right hook. As Álvarez leaned back to dodge the punch, he cocked his right fist. When Saunders leaned into punching range, Álvarez unleashed a right uppercut that hit Saunders in the eye, which immediately swelled and turned purple.

Saunders survived the round, but retired on his stool instead of continuing to fight.

Spectators booed Saunders, who is 30-1, and boxing fans on Twitter engaged in familiar debates about whether quitting a fight signals a lack of courage. But Álvarez said he felt a bone break in Saunders’s face when he landed that uppercut, and said fighting with one functioning eye would have endangered Saunders’s life.

“I know what I did with that punch,” said Álvarez, who was winning on all three official scorecards when Saunders opted out. “I knew he wasn’t going to come out of the corner. I broke his cheekbone.”