Canelo unbeatable? | Saunders faces give notice
With his fist in the air, Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez ‘crescendo was poignant and violent, a moment to remember how a noisy crowd can affect a fight.
Canelo was a matador for that eighth round after delivering the uppercut that would ultimately determine Saunder’s fate. His smile was sadistic – he knew Saunders was on his last legs and wanted the greatest post-pandemic boxing crowd to be excited about the wild end.
The finale was one of those slow, excruciating endings when the message from the corner of the beaten fighter was passed through the umpire to the winner and then to the barking crowd. It can be a particularly gruesome way to lose, the opposite of being knocked out in a split second.
The white towel Saunders placed over his head was in response to the searing pain of his eye injury, but it really was meant to protect him from the outside world and the intrusive questions that were to come. Did he quit?
We now know that he suffered multiple fractures in his orbital bone. Until then he had boxed skillfully at lightning speed, although Canelo landed harder and more often. The defeat was Saunder’s first in 30 fights.
His coach Mark Tibbs’ decision to fail was justified by what we now know about the injury. But it was an ironic twist, according to some of Saunders’ statements.
He criticized Daniel Dubois for not being able to fight Joe Joyce through a broken orbital. That seems like a tempting fate now – Dubois is only 23 and will be back.
The fines imposed by the British Boxing Board of Control over the years mean Saunders has few defenders left – Chris Eubank Jr., his old rival, was the first to laugh at his expense.
But it’s worth reconsidering what Paulie Malignaggi, who walked the distance with Miguel Cotto despite a broken orbital bone, told Sky Sports after Kell Brook sustained the injury for the second time in 2017.
“When you are young and have achieved nothing, there is more fire there,” Malignaggi said. “As you get older, you think more and more about these things. You think about family, your life, and it puts things into perspective.”
What’s left of fire in Saunders, a two-weight world champion, should be considered another time as he recovers from surgery in a Texas hospital.
What matters now is that his conqueror Canelo, now the WBA, WBC and WBO super middleweight champion, looks almost unbeatable as it is in the sport.
A champion in four divisions, the Mexican aims for Caleb Plant’s IBF belt to become undisputed. If he does, it will be one of the great 10-month runs in modern history – beating a trio of undefeated champions at Callum Smith, Saunders and Plant to take over a division.
This fight with Saunders showed an evil side to Canelo, something seldom pulled out of his demeanor, and also new insights into his personality as he spoke English. It became a fascinating investigation into how brutal he is as brutal as he is brilliant.
You won’t make it out of Guadalajara as a success story without great steadfastness.
He reacted angrily to Saunders’ nudges in the days before – but years earlier he was silent in the run-up to a fight with Rocky Fielding when he was negotiating his kidnapped brother’s ransom from a gang in Mexico. He’s not easy to worry about.
His reaction to Saunders’ mind games of asking for a ring of certain dimensions was to shrug his shoulders and let it in, not accept it as a disadvantage.
Then his defeat to Demetrius Andrade, who had penetrated his victory speech on Saturday night, was cold and withered. Canelo has a great sense of humor too. Who knew
This is the best fighter who lives at his all-time high in the middle of a historic run. His two bouts with Gennadiy Golovkin, once felt to be dominant, now feel like a previous chapter in a career destined for greater greatness. His only loss to Floyd Mayweather in 2013 seems to belong to a completely different boxer.
What’s next for the youngest of seven brothers to become a professional fighter seems certain – a battle with Plant for undisputed supremacy, followed by more offers for history in front of record breaking crowds (the 73,126 at the Dallas Cowboys home for the fight on Saturday) was an all-time high in the US).
It’s darker for Saunders, but that’s the barbaric reality of losing on a stage like this. He will receive grave allegations such as those he once threw against others. But there’s always a way back if he wants one – Britain’s most controversial boxer isn’t going to quietly go away.