Canelo Alvarez (48-1-1, 34 KO) defeated British boxer Liam Smith (23-1-1) for the WBO Junior Middleweight Championship belt on Saturday. Over 51,000 fans witnessed the victory at AT&T Stadium, home of the Cowboys, beating the venue’s previous boxing record of 50,944 for Manny Pacquiao vs. Joshua Clottey in 2010.
“Canelo is a star, he’s the ticket seller,” Golden Boy CEO and chairman Oscar De La Hoya said. “There’s no other fighter on the planet that could fill up 51,000 seats. It gives me a lot of hope that boxing is going to get nice and healthy once again.”
Odds seemed to favor Alvarez from the onset of the fight. Golden Boy’s in-house announcer/hype man worked the crowd throughout the undercard bouts. Periodic shoutouts to Smith were met with boos, while flashes of Alvarez onscreen led to deafening cries.
Alvarez wasted no time after making his entrance, lobbing blows to Smith’s side without interruption till the second round. Smith fired back with shots to the side, per his trainer Joe Gallagher’s suggestion, but Alvarez kept his guard, returning with combinations to the face and body.
Alvarez and the Golden Boy Promotion both played up Smith's worth as an opponent in the week preceding the fight, partly to curb demand for a match-up between Alvarez and Gennady “GGG” Golovkin, but the Liverpool native did little to sway the fight in his favor. After pushing Alvarez to the ropes in the fourth round, Smith’s fortune soured as Alvarez volleyed a stream of uppercuts and body shots. In the seventh round, a head shot sent Smith to the mat for the first time in his career.
Alvarez never relented, especially after Smith closed the round by punching him in the back of the head. Alvarez knocked Smith down again with a body shot, leaving him breathless on the mat with a referee counting over him. Smith refused to yield, but fell victim to a stern punch to his liver no more than two minutes into the ninth round. Alvarez was crowned the champion to a backdrop of fireworks and chants of “CA-NE-LO!”.
"First of all, I want to say I told you I was going to give a great fight and get the championship and here it is," said Alvarez. "I started going after him, but in the second round I hurt my hand. I hurt my right hand and had to use the left more often. There was some disparity but that's what happened. I felt he was very strong in the beginning so I had to put in the body work and felt he would dwindle. That's how I did my job. I give big punches with my body shots, and I enjoyed it very much. I fear no man. I am the best fighter in this sport."
Alvarez and the staff of Golden Boy Promotions, including Bernard Hopkins, defended Smith at the post-fight conference, describing him as a “resilient fighter” with a “lot of heart."
Smith attributes his loss to a lack of preparation, noting that an injury prevented him from sparring weeks before the fight.
"If I would have waited a little longer and gotten more experience I would have been able to fight better," said Smith. "I am very disappointed. Alvarez was too good today. My timing was off tonight. I was smaller and had no time to make him even think twice. We caught him with body shots well, and he handled his own."
AT&T Stadium and Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones was reportedly ecstatic regarding the turn out, and plans to book more fights at the stadium. Whether one of those fights will be Alvarez vs. GGG is entirely up to the Kazakh fighter, says Alvarez.
“We offered 'GGG' three times [the purse offered for this fight] and we're ready for him, but he doesn't want to accept,” said Alvarez.
Golden Boy vice president Eric Gomez said the offer is in the tens of millions, but declined to share the exact amount.
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