There is a tendency for keyboard tappers to go overboard in looking for deficencies in those next big things, the perhaps overhyped phenoms who are presented to us as saviors in shorts. I'm not going to go that route with Saul “Canelo” Alvarez. The kid who some are saying is the future of the game is a darned solid fighter. He showed a lot to like against Ryan Rhodes in the main event of HBO's Boxing After Dark show which unfolded at Arena VFG in Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico on Saturday night, and didn't lose a round on my card. Alvarez stayed calm, cool and on message as he whacked Rhodes with combos for 11 plus rounds, and closed the show in the 12th round of a most one sided affair.
Canelo landed six shots, a couple of them sledgehammers to the body, knocked Rhodes back and then kept on firing as Rhodes' corner hurled in the towel as the ref stepped in. The time of the TKO ending was 48 seconds elapsed.
That said, I won't place myself in the “Canelo is God” camp, because Canelo isn't. He has heavy hands, but maybe not as heavy as advertised. He doesn't get angles as maybe you'd like, tends to stand in front of his foe, and though his defense looks to be improving, it looks like a slick boxer adept at using his feet to gain advantageous position could do quite well against the kid. But again, he is a darned good fighter and there is much to like. I guess I'd caution all to be patient, not to fall for the hype, but not to go overboard in poking holes, either.
Rhodes did his legacy no favors. He really never fought with the urgency of a man who showed up with a fire in his belly, though we must give Alvarez due credit. Alvarez went 218-590 while Rhodes was 90-343 on the night, stats wise. Canelo, thru a translator, said after that he sensed his body shots were working. He was asked about Miguel Cotto, Alfredo Angulo and Julio Cesar Chavez Jr, and said, “I'm ready to really fight anybody. If I have to fight the devil, I will.” In English, he said, “I'm ready for everything.”
Alvarez (age 20, a month shy of turning 21; 36-0-1 with 26 K0s; from Guadalajara) was 153 1/4 pounds, while Rhodes (age 34; 45-4 with 31 KOs entering; from England) weighed 152 1/2 in this fight for Canelo's WBC junior middleweight crown.
Rhodes said after he underestimated Canelo's power, and that the body attack got to him. “I been beaten by a superstar in world boxing tonight,” he said, stating that he would not hang up the gloves.
Bob Papa called the action, along with Roy Jones, for HBO.
In the first, Canelo unloaded with 35 seconds to go after a lengthy feeling out session. Rhodes switched to lefty at the end of the first, trying to be tricky. Trainer Eddie Reynoso told Canelo to “relax” after the frame.
In the second, Jones made a smart point, lauding Canelo for not being overeager in his hometown. Rhodes again went righty, then lefty. But he needed to look to land something meaningful, one would think, instead of potshotting every now and again, as he was. Canelo looked relaxed and on message.
In the third, Rhodes looked to be busier with the jab. Canelo has a knack for catching guys at the end of his shot, landing from a distance, and not falling in, and getting vulnerable. He did overthrow a couple times in the third, but he took the third straight round.
In the fourth, we saw Rhodes hit the deck, with 50 seconds to go. He stood up, on sturdy legs, and reached round five. He had a nick under his left eye. The damage came from a right hand that landed behind the head. Rhodes' trainer told him after not to worry about the knockdown, because they weren't banking on winning on points anyway.
In the fifth, we saw Alvarez hurl more of those three punch combos. Any fight watcher has to like his propensity for the combos, no? If you want to quibble, he tends to stay pretty stationary, instead of firing a few, getting a different angle and taking advantage. To this point, Rhodes was a disappointment, seemingly present to be competitive, but not sending a message that he came to Mexico to land a stunner upset.
In the sixth, it was more of the same and we wondered if Rhodes would ever switch to a Plan B. In the seventh, the left hook worked, the jab worked, the right cross, the same: Canelo was the king of combos and Rhodes' face looked a bit more worn. A slice showed under his right eye. In the eighth, Rhodes slowed more. Canelo's body work hurt me, in Brooklyn.
In round nine, Rhodes hung tough, we will say that for him. Canelo had his way again in the tenth, same as in every round before. The eleventh went the same way. Rhodes' trainer told him, “You might as well get knocked out in the last round, you've lost every round.” Canelo came out hammering in the 12th, and the ref saw enough, ending the one sided tussle.
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