LAS VEGAS-A packed crowd of mostly Mexican fans saw WBC junior middleweight titleholder Saul “Canelo” Alvarez win by technical knockout and overpower Josesito Lopez with some crunching body shots that the Riverside prizefighter just couldn't handle on Saturday .
Alvarez (41-0-1, 30 KOs) let the more than 16,000 boisterous fans cheer crazily. He was simply too big and too good for Lopez (30-5, 18 KOs) who never backed down but didn't have the firepower to keep the redhead honest at the MGM Grand Hotel.
It was a 45-caliber automatic against a Howitzer cannon. Guess who won.
Crisp punching from Alvarez with some short right hand counters landed for the Mexican champion. Lopez got in a few digs to the body but not much more than that in round one.
The second round saw Lopez begin to attack more aggressively. Alvarez unleashed some combinations and Lopez landed some combinations, but late in the round a three-punch combination ending with left hook to the liver floored the Riverside fighter. Lopez beat the count.
Alvarez started quickly in the third and cornered Lopez. The Mexican strongman fired combinations to the head but Lopez withstood the shock. Then, another left to the liver floored Lopez once again. Lopez beat the count again.
“Canelo is bad ass. I knew he was going to be good but he proved to be better,” said Lopez, who moved up from welterweight to junior middleweight to fight for the world title. “He's a smart fighter. I was hoping to land a good punch to change the momentum, but he's a smarter, stronger and patient fighter.”
With Alvarez realizing that Lopez was weak to the body and strong to the head, an overzealous Canelo sought to end the fight with another body blow but drifted too far down. A low blow sent Lopez on a knee and referee Joe Cortez stopped the fight for the Riverside fighter to catch his wind. The fight resumed and a three-punch combination ending with a right club to the head dropped Lopez. Once again he beat the count.
Knowing that Lopez didn't have the firepower to stop him, Alvarez loaded up and went for the kill with some lethal combinations that found Lopez trying everything he could to stop the incoming fire. Nothing worked. The referee jumped in and stopped the fight at 2:55 of round five. Alvarez won by technical knockout.
“Josesito has a big heart and is very brave,” said Alvarez. “I'm not usually looking for a knockout.”
Alvarez's fans burst into cheers.
“I have a very big responsibility for my fans,” said Alvarez who remains undefeated. “I want the big fights with (Miguel) Cotto and (Floyd) Mayweather.”
Canelo won the $100,000 for having the best knockout.
WBC featherweight title
In a battle between Mexicans Daniel Ponce De Leon (44-4, 35 KOs) won the WBC featherweight world title from Jhonny Gonzalez (52-8, 45 KOs). The southpaw slugger dropped Gonzalez in the sixth round and built up enough points to win by unanimous decision after only eight rounds. An accidental butt over Gonzalez's left eye forced a stoppage when he was unable to continue. The score cards had Ponce De Leon winning 79-72 twice and 77-74 in a fight fraught with defense and careful punching.
“He's a great defensive fighter,” said Ponce De Leon. “”He was strong…but he didn't punch as hard as I thought.”
Argentina's Marcos Maidana stopped Jesus Soto Karass at 1:44 of round eight to win the battle of Argentina and Mexico at the MGM. Maidana floored Soto Karass with a long right hand in the seventh then poured it on in the eighth for the stoppage. For most of the scrap it was a brutal fight.
IBF bantamweight titleholder Leo Santa Cruz (21-0-1, 12 KOs)of Rosemead, California, battered Puerto Rico's Eric Morel (46-4, 23 KOs) into submission and won by technical knockout at the end of the fifth round to retain the title. Santa Cruz battered Morel's body like a jackhammer for all five rounds and nothing could stop the onslaught. Morel's corner stopped the fight. It was a wise decision.
Looks are deceiving as the adolescent looking Andres Gutierrez (23-0-1, 20 KOs) out-slugged Puerto Rico's Carlos Valcarcel (12-6-4, 5 KOs) after six rounds of a junior lightweight contest. There no knockdowns despite some brutal exchanges, but Gutierrez had an educated left hand that he used as an uppercut or hook. The scores were 60-54, 59-56 and 59-55 for Gutierrez of Guadalajara.
Mexico's Sergio Thompson (23-3, 21 KOs) stormed through Puerto Rico's Carlos Claudio (15-9-3, 8 KOs) with a barrage of body blows from the opening bell until the fight was stopped by knockout at 1:44 of round two. Thompson fired right after right to the body in round one. Then he altered the attack in round two with some big left hooks to the body. That did the trick as Claudio slumped to the floor after a three-punch combination to the body.
Francisco Vargas (12-0-1, 9 KOs) won a toe-to-toe war with Houston's Victor Sanchez (3-4) after a four round junior lightweight bout. Vargas had the better stamina as Sanchez slowed down in almost every round in the last 40 seconds. Scores were 40-36 twice and 39-37 for Mexico City's Vargas.
Eddie Gomez (10-0, 8 KOs) of Bronx, New York stopped San Antonio's Quinton Whitaker (9-10) at 15 seconds into round three. Gomez knocked down Whitaker twice in round two of the junior middleweight match.