Saul “Canelo” Alvarez kept his WBC super welterweight title on Saturday by knocking challenger Josesito Lopez down three times before stopping him late in the fifth round at the MGM Grand Hotel. Mexico’s Alvarez had Lopez bleeding from both the nose and mouth as referee Joe Cortez stopped the one-sided fight with five seconds remaining in the fifth round.
The 22-year-old Alvarez, who is notable for his red hair, freckles and thunderous punching power, made his fifth title defense against a gritty, but overmatched US opponent.
“I am very happy with what I showed today,” Alvarez said. “In boxing you are always learning and I still have a lot to learn. But I will be better next time.”
Alvarez was the more aggressive fighter from the opening bell in the 154-pound (70kg) fight as he kept his perfect record intact, improving to 41-0-1 with 30 knockouts.
He continually trapped Lopez on the ropes where he battered the challenger with multiple punch combinations that led to the knockdowns.
He floored Lopez down with a left hook to the body in the second round, again in the third and fourth and then put the finishing touches on with a right to the head in the final round that forced referee Cortez to step in.
Lopez, of Riverside, California, was fighting for a title for the first time in his career. He was a heavy underdog heading into the fight and it showed as he had lost every round on the judges’ scorecards. Lopez, who moved up in weight to fight Alvarez, dropped to 30-5 in his career. He said fighting at 154 pounds was too much for him.
“Canelo is a good fighter. He proved he is a better fighter,” Lopez said.
“It is way out of my weight. I felt good, but the size was different for me,” he added.
Alvarez’s game plan was to cut off the ring against Lopez who appeared to lose energy at the end of each round when the majority of the knockdowns took place. He hit Lopez with a low blow in the fourth round which delayed the fight for about a minute while the Lopez recovered.
On the undercard, IBF bantamweight champ Leo Santa Cruz retained his title by stopping two-time world champion Eric Morel in the fifth round. Daniel Ponce De Leon also claimed the WBC featherweight belt by taking a unanimous decision from former champ Jhonny Gonzalez. Marcos Maidana also stopped Jesus Soto Karass early in the eighth round to win their welterweight bout.
MARTINEZ v CHAVEZ
AFP, LAS VEGAS, NEVADA
Sergio Martinez survived a late knockdown to reclaim the World Boxing Council’s middleweight belt on Saturday when he defeated Julio Cesar Chavez Jr by a unanimous points decision.
Martinez, 37, dominated and was leading comfortably on the judges’ scorecards when he got into trouble in the 12th and final round, and the Argentine had to survive a late onslaught by Chavez as they went toe-to-toe.
Chavez knocked Martinez down in the final round, but the veteran was able to hang on in front of a sold-out crowd at the Thomas and Mack Center arena in Las Vegas.
“He caught me with a good left hook and I lost my balance,” Martinez said.
Judges Stanley Christodoulou (117-110), Adalaide Byrd (118-109) and Dave Moretti (118-109) all scored it in favor of Martinez.
Martinez, who came into the fight as a 2-1 favorite, improved to 50-2-2 with 28 knockouts. The 26-year-old Chavez, son of one of the greatest boxer’s in Mexican history by the same name, was making his fourth defense of the WBC middleweight crown, which at one time belonged to Martinez.