Canelo Alvarez Returns to Form; Proves Too Strong for Jermell Charlo


By David A. Avila

Daring to be great does not guarantee success.

Mexico’s Saul “Canelo” Alvarez powered his way past fellow undisputed but lighter world champion Jermell Charlo for a unanimous decision in front of a pro-Mexican crowd who cheered every attack by their champion on Saturday.

The difference in weight proved daunting.

A seemingly refreshed Alvarez (60-2-2, 39 KOs) returned to form in soundly defeating Houston’s Charlo (35-2-1, 19 KOs) who fired back like the champion he is at the T-Mobile Arena. More than 60 percent of the crowd seemed overwhelmingly pro-Canelo.

It was Canelo’s night and he was not going to disappoint.

Though his recent performances had been subpar, the real Canelo showed up looking sharp from the opening bell. He was not underestimating Charlo, a fellow pound-for-pound fighter according to many boxing publications.

After a tenuous opening round the fight slipped into its real rhythm in the second round as the taller and more slippery moving fighter decided to engage. While inside the range of fire, Charlo opened up with jabs and a crisp left hook. Canelo stalked the taller fighter and connected twice with combinations to the head and body. Neither fighter was hurt. Charlo showcased a fast triple jab. But when he tried to clinch, he was tossed away like a dangling tree branch by the stronger Alvarez.

It was a telling moment.

“I’m a strong fighter all the time. Nobody can beat Canelo,” said Alvarez.

In the third round Alvarez fired three rapid jabs and a right to the body that left the crowd in a collective exasperation. A right uppercut by Charlo connected and he was met by Canelo attacking the body viciously. Charlo held on twice.

It became apparent that Charlo could not handle Alvarez’s power and strength inside the pocket. And whenever he clinched he was met by powerful left hook shots to the body and a right to the head.

Charlo showed a very good chin and resilience despite getting pounded occasionally by the Mexican redhead’s body attack. It’s why he was undisputed super welterweight champion.

The fighter from Houston was gambling that he could match wits against boxing’s biggest draw. He was gambling that Alvarez’s recent performances were proof that he was ready to be toppled. And Charlo was not going to shy away from the fire.

The lanky Texas fighter showed brilliant speed and solid defense to go along with his championship heart. In the seventh round. Canelo pressured Charlo against the ropes with three jabs and a quick right to the forehead, followed by a right uppercut to Charlo’s chin. After a few seconds Charlo dropped to a knee for the count. He survived.

“We worked on that. He’s a great fighter and knows how to work in the ring,” said Alvarez.

For the remainder of the match, Alvarez remained in stalking mode and Charlo looking to counter with left hooks and an occasional right uppercut. Nothing seemed to work for Charlo who was hoping the rise from 154-pounds to 168-pounds would not prove a problem. It was.

After 12 rounds all three judges scored in favor of Alvarez 119-108, 118-109 twice. He retains the undisputed super middleweight world championship. Charlo will go back down to super welterweight where he reigned supreme.

“I wasn’t me tonight. This is boxing. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose,” said Charlo who was knocked down for only the second time in his career. “Truthfully, you can tell the difference in the weight.”

Alvarez hugged Charlo after the fight and told him he respected the gamble Charlo accepted in moving up.

“I love boxing so f------g much. Boxing is my life,” said Alvarez.

Other Bouts

In a battle between reluctant contenders, Erickson Lubin captured the win by unanimous decision over Arizona’s Jesus Ramos to maintain his place in line for a world title match.

“I stuck to the game plan. We came back with the victory tonight,” said Lubin.

“I was in control of the fight. I’m one of the top dogs in the division.”

Both super welterweights seemed hesitant to open up with any semblance of combinations. Lubin countered while Ramos worked the body with jabs. After 12 low key rounds Lubin was declared the winner by scores of 115-113, 116-112, 117-111.

Ramos was surprised but never really formed an all-out attack.

“I was trying to show different dimensions to my game,” Ramos said. “Maybe a little bit more pressure.”

Mario Barrios (28-2, 18 Ks) put it all together and defeated Yordenis Ugas (27-6, 12 KOs) in a battle between ex-world champions. That left jab and left hook did all the work in picking apart Cuba’s excellent fighter Ugas.

“I just concentrated on my jab,” Barrios said.

Knockdowns by Barrios in the second and twelfth round proved emphatically the difference between the two former champions.

“All the work I put in paid off. Early on he hurt me with a right liver shot,” said Barrios who trained in Las Vegas with Bob Santos. “I knew he was coming with it. I was prepared.”

A counter left hook dropped Ugas twice.

Arizona’s Elijah Garcia (16-0, 13 KOs) out-slugged Mexico’s Armando Resendiz (14-2, 10 KOs) in a spirited middleweight battle and stopped the fighter in the eighth round. The 20-year-old southpaw from Phoenix connected with a powerful right hook that Resendiz did not see and that ended the regional title fight at 1:23 of the eighth round.

“He was 100 percent my toughest opponent,” said Garcia.