The AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas played host to one of the biggest boxing nights of the year so far, as Mexican superstar Saul “Canelo” Alvarez stopped Britain’s Billy Joe Saunders on his stool at the end of the eighth round after a gripping super-middleweight title unification bout on Saturday night.
- A huge crowd of around 73,126 fans packed the stands of the stadium that plays host to NFL’s Dallas Cowboys
- Canelo (56–1–2, 38 KOs) added the WBO title to his WBA (Super), WBC and The Ring Magazine titles
- Saunders (30-1, 14 KOs) suffered his first career loss as he was transported to hospital with a suspected broken orbital bone
Recap the action from fight night via our live round-by-round updates and unofficial scorecard as Alvarez and Saunders went toe to toe for super-middleweight supremacy in Texas.
On top of the world: Canelo Alvarez celebrates his 56th career victory
Canelo vs Saunders: Round-by-round updates
IT IS ALL OVER!
The fight has been stopped with Saunders still on his stall, with his right eye busted up. Saunders looks distraught, while Canelo is elated, and possibly a little relieved.
Saunders boxed superbly during that bout, and was very much in the fight before Canelo loaded up in Round 8 and landed the big shots that did the damage and, eventually, took Saunders’ undefeated record, and his WBO super-middleweight world title.
It means Canelo is one step closer to becoming the undisputed 168-pound champion, with the one remaining championship, the IBF title, still held by undefeated 21-0 American Caleb Plant.
All three judges had Canelo Alvarez ahead on the scorecards when the fight was stopped, with two judges having the Mexican 78-74 up, and one seeing it 77-75 in Canelo’s favour.
Our unofficial card had the bout scored even at 76-76 at the time of the stoppage.
Saunders popping out the jab and throwing combinations to start Round 8. He’s not loading up, but he is scoring. Canelo is trying to rally the crowd, and connects with big shots that have left a mouse on Saunders’ right eye. Canelo is pouring on the pressure and landing huge shots in the best round of the fight so far for the Mexican. The crowd is back in this fight, and so is Canelo. Is the momentum swinging back to the Mexican again? Saunders’ right eye is closing fast as the cutman works feverishly to reduce the swelling in the Saunders corner.
Canelo may well have gotten the hurry-up in his corner, because he’s upped the work-rate in Round 7. Saunders is boxing beautifully, however, and, round by round, is slowly draining Canelo’s gas tank by making the Mexican walk him down and making him miss. Saunders, for his part looks fresh and is landing with almost every punch he throws. He didn’t land as much in Round 7 as we saw in the previous two stanzas, but it’s probably still enough to nick the round.
Elation after victory: Canelo Alvarez salutes the crowd after his win
Saunders can’t seem to miss with his jab and, while Canelo is landing big shots, Saunders is making the Mexican miss. The Mexican isn’t looking as sharp and snappy as he did in the opening rounds, while Saunders appears to be coming into his own now. He’s fighting off his back foot, forcing Canelo to come after him, and he’s jabbing cleanly and mixing in some sneaky left hand counters. A nice lead right hook finds its mark for the Brit in another solid round. We’re halfway through the scheduled 12-round bout, and we are level on our unofficial scorecard. It’s anyone’s fight heading into the second half of the contest.
Best punches of the fight from Saunders as he snaps Canelo’s head back with a superb double-jab. He’s boxing well, but needs to up his output, and we’re starting to see that. Canelo continues to load up, but he’s starting to get caught by the Brit, who connects with a solid left hand. Has Canelo come in looking for the early knockout and loaded up too heavy, too early? Saunders takes a crushing body shot with the minimum of fuss, and has made the Mexican miss a lot more in his best round of the fight so far. Chalk that round up to the Brit.
Nice combination from Saunders opens up Round 4 for the WBO champion, but Canelo comes back with a big right hand once again. The Mexican briefly had BJS forced against the ropes, but Saunders smartly scooted away and out of trouble. His boxing skills are making him a pretty tricky target to hit, but he hasn’t hit Canelo with anything that has come close to troubling him yet. Canelo starts to really let his shots go, and an uppercut drew a knowing nod from the Brit as he almost loses his mouthpiece. Saunders isn’t landing with the same power, and isn’t compensating for that with enough scoring punches.
Loading up: Canelo Alvarez lands an uppercut on Billy Joe Saunders
The fight is settling into a clear pattern now, with Saunders working behind his jab and Canelo stepping in and landing power punches. Saunders’ jab is finding its mark, but it isn’t troubling Canelo at all, and the Mexican is walking through them to land his own shots, and a beautiful two-punch combination draws cheers from the crowd. Another solid right hand has Saunders backing up and shaking his head, but these shots are pretty heavy, and they’re landing. Even if they’re not troubling the Brit, they’re registering with the judges. Saunders’ boxing is crisp, but it’s not stopping the Mexican’s forward pressure. Without power to back it up, it could be a long night for the Brit.
Saunders getting to work with his jab much more quickly at the start of Round 2. Canelo looking to walk down the Brit and connect with power shots, and two such punches bring the crowd to life. Canelo starting to let his shots go more now. He’s throwing with much more power than Saunders. The Brit is looking to score. The Mexican is looking to damage. Big right from Canelo forces Saunders backward as the Mexican continues to walk down the Brit. Saunders continues to work behind his jab, but it isn’t preventing Canelo from walking forward and scoring with big shots. Definitely Canelo’s round.
Saunders is the taller man in the ring, but it’s Canelo who takes the centre of the ring early in a cagey opening round. Saunders looks to work his southpaw right jab early while working the outside, but is briefly clipped by a counter left from Canelo. An early warning for the Brit. Saunders working the jab well, Canelo answers with a big right to the body, which Saunders takes well. Tight opening round, but Saunders’ jab and better work-rate gives him Round 1 on our unofficial scorecard
After the usual pomp and circumstance, legendary announcer Michael Buffer whips the 70,000-strong crowd into a frenzy with his usual routine, as he introduces the two fighters to the ring.
Saunders makes his way to the cage, with none other than Sir Winston Churchill’s legendary “We will fight them on the beaches” speech announcing his arrival in the arena.
It sounds like almost every single member of the 70,000 crowd is here to see him lose, but there are a couple of English flags among the pro-Mexican crowd as he soaks up the atmosphere on the ramp.
The AT&T Stadium looks incredible as he makes his way down the ramp. It’s the biggest night of his boxing career, and he looks relaxed and ready.
Then it’s Canelo’s turn, and the Mexican looks focused as he emerges onto the ramp and into the cauldron of noise in Texas following fireworks and a performance from a traditional Mexican band on the stage.
It’s a long, drawn-out entrance, and one Saunders has to wait through as he stays loose in the ring waiting for the Mexican superstar to complete his entrance.
With both fighters finally in the ring, the atmosphere hits fever pitch when Buffer returns to centre stage to utter the most famous five words in boxing: “Let’s get ready to rumble!”
It’s just about 4:30am here in the UK, and it’s finally fight time. Can Saunders score the upset, or will Canelo reign supreme? We’re about to find out!
The packed AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas
- Elwin Soto def. Katsunari Takayama via TKO (Round 9, 2:44) – for WBO junior flyweight title
- Souleymane Cissokho def. Kieron Conway via split decision – for WBA Intercontinental super-welterweight title
- Frank Sanchez def Nagy Aguilera via technical decision (Round 6, 1:42)
- Marc Castro def. Irving Macias Castillo via TKO (Round 4, 2:04)
- Keyshawn Davis def. Jose Antonio Meza via unanimous decision
- Kelvin Davis def. Jan Marsalek via unanimous decision
- Christian Alan Gomez Duran def. Xavier Wilson via TKO (Round 2, 2:19)
Co-main cracker: Elwin Soto claimed a ninth-round TKO finish of Katsunori Takayama
Saunders in confident mood ahead of unification clash
Speaking after the weigh-ins, Saunders looked fired up and confident ahead of the biggest bout of his professional career.
Speaking to DAZN, he laid out his mindset ahead of the bout, saying, “I have the spirit, I have the belief, I have the winning mentality.
“I don’t come in to lay down, I come in to win. So I don’t think Alvarez has faced a man with as much heart and determination to win as me.
“It’s going to be a good fight. He’s a great champion. But, to be honest with you, I’ve come here to take all of his titles, and take them by storm.”
When asked how he needs to adapt his game to deal with Canelo, Saunders highlighted his undefeated record and pointed out his mindset ahead of the fight.
“I haven’t lost since 2008, I’m 30-0 and unbeaten,” he said.
On weight and ready: Billy Joe Saunders
“So therefore he has to do something differently to beat me, not the other way around.
“The key to this sort of fight is obviously everybody’s got to be on their A-game, bring their best to the table and as long as I bring my fighting spirit and my brain, I’ve got it.
And Saunders vowed to earn a few thousand more fans through his performance, even though he’s set to fight in front of a sea of Canelo fans inside AT&T Stadium.
“Mate, these fans will thrive and push me to win,” he declared.
“These fans will not bother me. They’re all for Canelo. They’re cheering for him now, but on the way out they’ll be cheering for me.”
Can Saunders dethrone Canelo? Eddie Hearn says YES
“I think this is actually the best chance that a super-middleweight has got against Canelo Alvarez,” Hearn told DAZN at yesterday’s weigh-ins.
“Billy Joe Saunders is the toughest test for Canelo – the style, the mentality.
“I went into the AT&T Stadium earlier. The atmosphere would break many people. It won’t break Billy Joe.
“But he’s going to have to box at levels he’s never boxed at before. Because he’s never been in kind of the levels and the deep end with fighters like Canelo Alvarez.
“But does Billy Joe have the levels? We believe he does. British boxing believes he does.”
Eddie Hearn is HYPED
Speaking to DAZN after the weigh-ins, promoter Eddie Hearn was bristling with anticipation as he set the scene for the upcoming unification battle.
“The fight’s got bigger and bigger. You’re going to have 70,000 people in there tomorrow night,” he said.
“We’re going to break the record for the biggest indoor attendance in U.S. boxing history. The world returns to normality, and boxing did that. It shows you that when we make great fights this is the greatest sport of all.
“Billy Joe Saunders, 30-0, unbeaten, two-weight world champion. Canelo Alvarez, pound-for-pound number one. I think we’re not going to only see one of the best fights in the last few years tomorrow night, but you’re going to see, I think, the greatest atmosphere we’ve ever seen at a boxing event.
“Billy Joe Saunders has played his part. The Canelo fans are here. It’s going to be everything. I’ve not felt like this for a long time. I’m probably more excited for this fight than I’ve been for any other fight … Both these guys deserve the credit. They’re two champions that are willing to face each other, and it’s beautiful for the sport of boxing.”
It’s on! Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez takes on Billy Joe Saunders at AT&T Stadium in Texas
Could Joshua-Fury finally be confirmed tonight?
That’s the other big question boxing fans and media alike are hoping to get answered tonight, with rumours rife that we could finally get the announcement the boxing world wants to hear.
Anthony Joshua and Tyson Fury have already signed a two-fight agreement to face each other in world championship bouts, but so far no official date or location has been confirmed.
But, with Fury in Arlington tonight to support his friend and colleague Saunders in tonight’s main event, hopes are high that an announcement could come during this evening’s proceedings.
It would be the perfect way to cap off a huge night for the sport.
The fight before the fight
It’s a huge bout, with Saunders’ confidence and attitude heading into fight night proving to be a feature of fight week in Texas, as he dealt with negotiating sticking points regarding the nationality of the ringside judges for the bout, as well as the size of the ring itself.
Saunders’ team complained at the lack of a British judge on the three-man panel in Arlington, but with the athletic commission’s lineup already locked in, Saunders was unable to force a change.
However, he did find success in his bid to secure a larger ring for the bout, with both camps eventually agreeing to the matchup taking place in a 22-foot ring.
Faceoff: Canelo Alvarez and Billy Joe Saunders go face to face at the weigh-ins