Canelo Alvarez overcame a frustrating night to deliver a ruthless knockout of Caleb Plant to further enhance his glittering legacy and become boxing’s first ever undisputed super-middleweight world champion.
The Mexican superstar was forced into a patient approach over 10 cagey rounds before finally opening up the American in a thrilling 11th round to capture his IBF title, complimenting his WBA Super, WBO, and WBC belts to complete the set.
Plant had long evaded Canelo’s signature left hook by shortening the distance and smartly leaning away in an impressive tribute to Floyd Mayweather Jr. But that famous shot eventually pierced his guard, opening up a hole where his glove was and forcing him to absorb a disorientating shot that left him vulnerable to a thudding right uppercut that finally sent him spiralling towards the canvas.
Plant bravely gathered himself, but could only resist for a few more seconds before meeting his fate as Canelo snatched his crowning moment. This time a flurry of shots rained in on a partially-guarded head and his exposed body as Plant crumpled into the ropes, ending his dreams.
The fight’s conclusion sparked wild scenes of celebrations and dispelled any growing animosity between fighter and trainer Eddy Reynoso, who was heard frantically screaming instructions between rounds after struggling to implement Plan A .
Already a four-weight world champion, Canelo has clinched his legacy with supremacy at 168 pounds, but there is still the mouthwatering prospect of much more to come.
The future remains murky though, despite teasing the prospect of seven more years as boxing’s king, given a dearth of attractive opponents.
with Gennadiy Golovkin’s prime long gone, Canelo’s body may yet hold up well to ensure a lengthy period on the throne.
Already proven as a complete fighter, tonight showed once more how Canelo can close the show even when forced to lean on his creative side to break down a stubborn opponent. The smart, yet conservative strategy, that Plant implemented may yet be replicated down the line, but it needs to come with enough power to break a so far impenetrable chin.
That conclusion was proven with Plant’s reality, even without the dramatic conclusion in round 11, leading to all three judges scoring the fight to Canelo (97-93, 96-94, 98-92) before the stoppage, scores that may cause amnesia as how troubling of an evening it was for the face of the sport
It was tricky to recall exact shots that demonstrated some of Plant’s impressive work, but a series of infuriating jabs complimented his slick movement that repeatedly saw him vanish off the ropes as Canelo’s gloves whistled past his ears.
And Canelo’s smile after the final bell, covered in gold from head to toe, obscured another valuable lesson in mastering distance against such a slippery opponent capable of escaping the traps that proved so fatal to Billy Joe Saunders and Callum Smith over the last year.
Despite lacking many thrilling exchanges through 10 rounds and perhaps determined to provide value to his adoring fans, Canelo remained calm, ignoring the hushed silence from the crowd as the fight entered the championship rounds, hinting at the prospect of a close decision on the cards.
So the relief at carving out another piece of history ensured the Mexican was quick to forget any lingering bad blood between the pair that has been simmering ever since their fisticuffs at a press conference in September.
The next challenge is not obvious, whether at middleweight or all the way up at light heavyweight, but Canelo has now entered a special phase in any legendary athlete’s career. Every time he performs, you simply watch in awe as he effortlessly overcomes yet another challenge.
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