By Cliff Rold
In a fight that lived up to the hype, 22-year old WBC 154 lb. titlist Saul Alvarez (42-0-1, 32 KO) of Guadalajara, Mexico, used hard power shots and a seventh round knockdown to earn the best win of his career, a unanimous decision over WBA titlist Austin Trout (26-1, 14 KO) of Las Cruces, New Mexico, at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas, on Saturday night.
Both men came into the bout under the division limit of 154 lbs., Alvarez at 153 ½ and Trout at 153 ¼. The referee was Laurence Cole.
The announced crowd of 39,247 made themselves as much a part of the show as the fighters in the moments leading to the fight. Building throughout the undercard, they reached peak volume, booing lustily as Trout walked the aisle and mimicking Beatlemania as Canelo followed suit.
Ring announcer Jimmy Lennon threatened to be drowned out, first introducing Alvarez to another roar and then Trout to a seemingly more deafening rain of disdain. They remained at fever pitch as the bell sounded to begin the anticipated battle.
While Alvarez had a couple brief flashes of offense, Trout easily controlled a fairly uneventful if intense first round. Snapping the jab by the dozens, Trout made Alvarez miss in spots and muffled two charges with his back to the ropes. Trout’s best single punch would come on a stiff straight left to the body at the midway point of the round.
Alvarez had a much better second round. While still spending the bulk of the round at the end of Trout’s southpaw right jab, Alvarez snuck in a left hook and thundering uppercut and landed three rights, upstairs and down, to make a statement.
Round three again played out much like the first two in terms of game plan, Alvarez warming up even more. He landed some corking rights while Trout worked the jab and controlled much of the distance. Perhaps sensing a need for more than his jab, Trout opened up more in round four, landing some of his best combinations of the fight. Alvarez landed a sizzling uppercut at the minute mark and a sweat-exploding jab with ten seconds to go. Trout immediately responded with a stiff left to the face after the latter.
Trout had an even better round in the fifth, the crowd making his case with a torrent of boos. Alvarez landed some single hard shots but it was Trout setting the pace with the jab and finding Alvarez with counter combinations in the trenches.
In terms of action, round six is where a genuine fight truly broke out. Alvarez tried to make a statement with power shots early and Trout responded by ripping to the body. Alvarez backed off and it was Trout taking the fight to him for almost all of the second half of the round. With seconds to go, Alvarez landed a sharp uppercut off the ropes. Trout took it and fired back, refusing to release control.
Alvarez took it from him by force only seconds into the seventh round. Alvarez landed a nuclear straight right hand to send Trout’s legs in different directions and Trout went to the floor. Beating the count, Trout showed tremendous bottom, firing back as Alvarez came forward. Perhaps a little gassed, Trout managed to get his legs under him and outlanded Alvarez for the final minute of the round.
Picking up where he left off at the end of the seventh, Trout had a strong eighth, carrying the frame with greater activity as Alvarez took much of the round off. It was more of the same for the first minute of the ninth but Alvarez appeared to rock Trout just past the minute mark. Blood dripping from the mouth, Trout sat down in the pocket and attempted to offset the hard shots of Alvarez with volume. Alvarez made Trout miss with style in the final minute, a delight for the partisan crowd.
Trout dominated most of the tenth round, eating the occasional big shot but doing much more over the course of three minutes. It didn’t matter much as television relayed official scores after round eight that were lopsided twice for Alvarez. It was enough to begin to wonder if Trout could score a knockout as he appeared to need it.
He didn’t have the firepower to get it but Trout did manage to do what he’d done most of the night, outworking Canelo for most of the final six minutes while Alvarez coasted with the knowledge that provided by open scoring relays to his corner that he was ahead.
BoxingScene scored the bout 116-111 for Trout but recognized many close rounds. It was a fight that weighed a more consistent Trout against the clearly stronger bursts of offense from Canelo in most rounds. The final scores favored the latter at a reasonable 116-111 and 115-112 for Alvarez and a shockingly lopsided 118-109.
Alvarez adds the WBA belt to his mantle along with the vacant Ring Magazine World Jr. Middleweight crown. Floyd Mayweather still remains viewed by many as the top fighter in the division so the lineal crown of the division remains disputed.
Regardless, Alvarez arrives now fully as the brightest young star in North America and his improvement from early in his career indicates we may still be a long way from seeing the best of Canelo.
Speaking through an interpreter, Alvarez gave Trout credit for being difficult but felt he’d implemented a more intelligent game plan. Alvarez proudly claimed revenge for his brother, Rigoberto, whom Trout defeated for his version of the WBA belt (Miguel Cotto and Floyd Mayweather have held the “Super” version of the title during Trout’s reign). Alvarez graciously thanked the mass of fans that came out to support him and then deftly turned to English.
Asked if he’d like a showdown with Mayweather, he stated, “I hope so. Maybe. Maybe. Viva Mexico!”
Trout was equally classy in his post-fight comments. Not resorting to contesting scores that could have gone the other way, he tipped his cap and took defeat like a gentleman. “(Alvarez) was the better man. He was quicker. He was stronger. I have no excuses for tonight.”
Trout expanded further in crediting the victor. “He boxed a lot better than I thought. He moved a lot better than I thought. We were just prepared for a totally different fighter and he shocked us.”
It was no shock that the fans got their money’s worth once again in a string of solid weeks of in-ring action for the sport. Trout will regroup and look for a chance to rebound. Alvarez will look to build towards what increasingly looks inevitable.
For the first time since the prime of Julio Cesar Chavez, boxing may finally have the ‘next’ Mexican megastar its been waiting for ever since.
In the televised Showtime opener, 23-year old crowd favorite Lightweight Omar Figueroa (21-0-1, 17 KO), 134 ½, of Welasco, Texas, shredded previously undefeated 25-year old Abner Cotto (16-1, 7 KO), 133 ½, of Aguas Buenas, Puerto Rico, scoring two knockdowns en route to a first round knockout. Cotto came into the bout rated #13 by the World Boxing Organization at 135 lbs. Figueroa came in rated #9 by the International Boxing Federation.
The referee was Jon Schorle.
Figueroa played the aggressor from the first clang of the bell, Cotto patiently trying to box and getting hammered in close. Cotto tied up the left arm of Figueroa to try to slow his momentum near the ropes. Once separated, Cotto looked to work the perimeter and time Figueroa coming in. He was having some success, clipping Figueroa with some clean, if only touching, rights and lefts.
It didn’t matter much when a left hook from Figueroa started him teetering towards the floor just as the two fighters got close to the minute mark. Figueroa finished the knockdown with a right hand and Cotto, buzzed, settled on his right knee and watched the count of Schorle. Cotto rose at eight and took a deep breath before nodding to go on.
Figueroa charged forward and Cotto looked to hold right away. Once broken up, Cotto got on his bike, eating a hard right hand in the corner as Figueroa pursued. A left to the body, followed by two shots to the head, and a final left to the body sent Cotto to the floor again doubled over in pain. He would not beat the count as Schorle tolled ten at 2:57 of the opening round.
Figueroa scored his eighth first round knockout and third in four fights. Asked if there was anything negative about a long training camp culminating in such a short fight, Figueroa said, “No sir. It’s completely worth it. This is only going to help me get to where we really want to be. We want to get to those world titles.”
He took a significant step towards fulfilling those dreams on Saturday night.
The card was televised in the U.S. on Showtime as part of its “Championship Boxing” series, promoted by Golden Boy Promotions.
Cliff Rold is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene and a member of the Transnational Boxing Ratings Board, the Yahoo Pound for Pound voting panel, and the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be reached at [email protected]