LAS VEGAS — Saul “Canelo” Alvarez, the unified super middleweight champion, thoroughly dominated Jermell Charlo on Saturday night, winning by unanimous decision and perhaps quieting some of the talk that he had begun to slip as a boxer.
Alvarez won by scores of 119-108, 118-109 and 118-109. Charlo,
the unified junior middleweight champ, moved up two weight classes to take on Alvarez.
Even though Charlo (35-2-1) was the one moving up two weight classes, he is 4 inches taller than the 5-foot-8 Alvarez and with a 2 1/2-inch reach advantage. That didn’t matter.
There had been some recent talk that Alvarez (60-2-2) had slipped, but he looked like the Canelo of old in this fight.
Entering this fight, he lost by unanimous decision to Dmitry Bivol in May 2022, won by unanimous decision a year ago over past-his-prime Gennady Golovkin and then easily beat John Ryder in May on the scorecards.
But now Alvarez, who is from Mexico, can look toward the future. WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman has declared David Benavidez will be his mandatory challenger for the super middleweight belt.
But Alvarez has not committed to facing Benavidez, a 26-year-old who is 27-0 with all but four wins by knockout. If Alvarez turns down Benavidez, the WBC likely would vacate his championship.
Both fighters were cautious early, feeling each other out without taking any chances, but Alvarez then became the aggressor in the second round as Charlo repeatedly backed up. That continued in the third, though Charlo landed a few more punches.
Alvarez delivered even more power punches in the fourth round as the Houston resident continued to play defense, apparently hoping that Alvarez would provide him an opening. But Alvarez moved forward without any apparent concern that would happen.
Finally, in the fifth, Charlo delivered some shots than landed on Alvarez in what was easily his best round. Even so, Alvarez got his own shots in with about 10 seconds left that backed up Charlo.
Perhaps feeding off the end of that round, Alvarez went back to being in control in the six. He went after Charlo hard late in the round, landing several shots with him against the ropes and exciting the pro-Alvarez crowd.
About a minute into the seventh round, Alvarez sent Charlo to his right knee with a right hook and right uppercut. It was just the second time that Charlo had been knocked down in his career. Charlo got back up, but Alvarez was fully in charge.
He wasn’t as aggressive the rest of the fight, but didn’t need to be. Alvarez still landed his share of shots in a one-sided performance.