CABAZON. CA.-Saul “Canelo” Alvarez arrived knowing that crafty Larry Mosley was waiting for him but he pulled out a unanimous decision victory with each round razor close between the two pugilists on Friday.

“I feel very good but it was a difficult fight,” said Alvarez, 18.

Alvarez (22-0-1, 15 KOs) expected a better quality of fighter after running out of opponents in Mexico and he found one in Los Angeles-based Mosley who threw a wrench in the red-headed Mexican’s plans for domination.

The fight began tentatively with neither fighter willing to stick his neck out. After two rounds of feints and probing punches it was the Mexican who decided to resort to typecast and fire a quick combination to the head and body.

From the fifth round on Mosley began finding the range of Alvarez’s punches and stepped on the gas from there on. But it was Alvarez’s power that impressed the judges who were looking for an excuse to give the round to one or the other. They gave it to Alvarez.

Though seldom did more than one punch slip through either fighter’s defense, it was the Mexican’s power that made it easier to score. Judge Marty Denkin had it 96-94, Ray Corona 99-91, and Jerry Cantu 97-93 all for Alvarez.

Each round was razor thin.

“I thought I pressured him the whole fight,” said Mosley (15-3-1, 6 KOs) of Los Angeles. “I have no complaints, he was a good young fighter.”

Alvarez showed good hand speed and good vision that allowed him to thwart Mosley’s combinations. But he boxes on his heels and sometimes it causes imbalance. However, at 18, he has time to adjust.

“I was very hesitant,” admitted Alvarez, who is known as a pressure fighter but picked his spots against Mosley. “I could never hit him twice.”

After the sixth round, Mosley began firing more punches and trading with the stronger punching Alvarez. But the judges favored the puncher more than the boxer at the conclusion.

Alvarez hopes to fight again in this country soon.

“I’m going to learn from this fight,” said Alvarez, who has six other brothers that box professionally.

NABO title

A title fight that looked difficult on paper resulted in an easy victory for Mexico’s Antonio Escalante who knocked down New York’s Mike Oliver (21-2, 7 KOs) four times in gaining a third round technical knockout and regaining the NABO junior featherweight title.

“It’s the same title I lost by knock out. It feels great to be a champion again,” said Escalante (18-2, 12 KOs) who hails from Chihuahua.

It was Oliver’s first fight since losing by knockout and the speedy southpaw was careful in the first minute. But a flurry of body blows by Escalante forced the lefty to drop his defense and he was knocked down with a right to the chin. Oliver recovered, then was met with a left uppercut and dropped again. He beat the count. Then a left hook to the body dropped him once again, but he survived the round.

“He had a difficult style but I sparred with a lot of southpaws so I knew how to deal with him,” said Escalante who lost the NABO title almost a year ago to former world champion Mauricio Pastrana.

Oliver made some second round adjustments to keep away from the hard-hitting Mexican, but in the third round Escalante returned to attacking the body. A left hook to the liver at 33 seconds of the third round dropped the East Coast fighter again for good. Referee David Mendoza stopped the fight.

Mistakes cost Oliver the fight, he said.

“I was too anxious so he took advantage of me,” said Oliver.

Puerto Rico’s Hector Sanchez (17-0, 7 KOs) kept his record perfect and handed Texan Albert Rodriguez (8-1-1, 4 KOs) his first loss. A left hook to the body crumbled Rodriguez at 1:43 of the second round of a junior welterweight bout.

It took Mickey Bey (12-0, 7 KOs) 1:46 to land a crushing left hook body shot to drop Mexico’s Miguel Munguia (16-14-1, 13 KOs) in a junior welterweight bout.

Fontana’s Danny Gonzalez (1-0) knocked out Riverside’s Mike Finney (1-3) at 1:24 of the second round with a right hand in a heavyweight bout.