Ring Ratings Update: Canelo remains super middleweight, P4P King
Canelo Alvarez left no doubt as to who the man is in the 168-pound division with his eighth-round stoppage of previously unbeaten titleholder Billy Joe Saunders before a U.S. record indoor crowd inside AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, on Saturday.
Canelo (56-1-2, 38 KOs) defended his Ring Magazine, WBA and WBC titles and further unified the major sanctioning body belts by adding Saunders’ WBO strap to his collection.
Saunders (30-1, 14 KOs) talked a good game coming into the May 8 showdown, and the brash southpaw had his moments while sticking and moving in Rounds 4, 5 and 6, but Canelo calmly and confidently stalked the skittish Englishman while landing devastating body shots and counterpunches. In Round 8, one of those counters (a right uppercut) landed to Saunders’ right eye socket and cheekbone, doing serious damage, which convinced trainer Mark Tibbs to keep his man on the stool between rounds (the right thing to do given the nature of the injury).
The IBF title held by Caleb Plant, The Ring’s No. 2-rated super middleweight, is the only major 168-pound belt not in the Mexican star’s possession. We’ll see if the undefeated Nashville native is next on the 30-year-old superstar’s ambitious schedule, which has seen him fight three times in the past six months.
If Canelo (56-1-2, 38 KOs) stays on mission, he’ll be facing Plant for undisputed champion status in September (around Mexican Independence Day weekend, of course). In the meantime, hardcore fans and boxing media can argue whether the Guadalajara native is one of the greatest to hail from the boxing-proud nation of Mexico and if he deserves to be viewed as No. 1 in the pound-for-pound rankings.
The Ring Ratings is on the same page regarding the latter debate. Everyone agreed that Alvarez deserves to be at the helm of The Ring’s mythical rankings.
“Canelo Alvarez had his issues at times with Saunders but ultimately landed a perfect punch and scored an impressive win,” said panelist Anson Wainwright. “The best resume in boxing and continues to lead the way.”
Managing Editor Tom Gray thought Saunders boxed well vs. Alvarez but doesn’t deny that the Ring champ is pound-for-pound king.
“I thought the fight was close numerically (I had it even on my second viewing),” said Gray, “but Canelo always looked like he had Saunders by the throat. P4P performance.”
Added Martin Mulcahey:
“It’s an easy decision to keep Saul Alvarez where he is. He figures foes out after a couple rounds like a prime JC Chavez. He looks like he a machine in there now, almost impossible to derail with very underrated feet and defense. Saunders is also a legit opponent with a unique style, so bonus points there for Canelo.”
RING RATINGS UPDATE:
Pound for pound – Canelo Alvarez remains No. 1.
Super middleweight – Alvarez retains Ring championship. Saunders remains at No. 4.
“Canelo started well before Saunders came back into things,” noted Wainwright. “A wonderfully placed shot hurt and broke Saunders’ orbital bone. From then on, the fight was over. His corner likely saved him from what would have got nasty. Saunders was No. 4 going in and showed enough to remain there despite the stoppage loss. It’s not like (No. 5) Anthony Dirrell was breathing hard down BJS’s throat going in.”
“I am fine with keeping Saunders at No. 4 because it is a pretty weak division from No. 3 down. From No. 4 down it is a matter of figuring out who had the best losses instead of best wins.”
Junior flyweight – Elwin Soto (19-1, 13 KOs) advances to No. 3 after scoring a 10-round technical stoppage of four-time former strawweight titleholder Katsunari Takayama.
“Youth was served as Soto stopped gutsy Japanese warrior Takayama in (10) rounds to retain his WBO title. Soto to No. 3.”
“Never caught the Soto fight, but I heard the stoppage was poor. What’s the thoughts? A lot of the fans were down on him. Does he deserve to move up?”
Added panelist Adam Abramowitz:
“I agree with moving Soto up to No. 3. The stoppage was early, but he was clearly ahead.”
Added panelist Daisuke Sugiura:
“Agree with Soto to No. 3. Takayama and his team didn’t like the stoppage, but Soto was clearly a better fighter, and I didn’t think it was a poor performance overall. It sounds like we will have Soto vs. (Ring champ) Hiroto Kyoguchi unification in summer.”
Added panelist Diego Morilla:
“I agree with Soto at No. 3. The very last and probably most important rule that fighters are reminded of in the ring is ‘protect yourself at all times,’ and Takayama was doing anything but that. He was taking power punches in bunches of half a dozen each. I wouldn’t let the stoppage get in the way of appreciating Soto’s progressive demolition job against a still great fighter like Takayama.”
“Elwin Soto keeps managing to get wins, so his resume has to be rewarded with a No. 3 spot despite my not seeing him as elite. I am seeing a volume punching brawler who should have lost to (Angel) Acosta, but obviously has more to his game than comes through on the HD TV, ha ha.”
In notable non-rated action:
Heavyweight prospect Frank Sanchez improved to 18-0 (13 KOs) with a technical decision over veteran Nagy Aguilera.
Wainwright said the Team Canelo/Eddy Reynoso-trained Cuban is “on the fringes of things.”
“Sanchez did himself no favors with that performance on the Canelo-Sanchez undercard, showcase blown IMO. Still, he’s a good prospect, but lacks the excitement factor despite obvious skillset.”
Junior middleweight fringe contender Magomed Kurbanov (22-0, 13 KOs) scored a controversial 12-round decision over former titleholder Liam Smith in his native Russia.
“The fight could have gone either way but home court advantage often helps,” said Wainwright. “The win solidifies Kurbanov’s status in the division and Smith can claim he deserved the decision and get further fights. Not overly impressed by Kurbanov. I feel there are several up-and-comers who are better and have better credentials but he’s still a solid fighter who is in line for a big fight.”
“I thought Kurbanov did enough to beat Smith. Nothing big separated the duo but I appreciated the accuracy of Kurbanov and thought he controlled where fight was taking place in the ring, picking his spots.”