By Keith Idec
NEW YORK – Rocky Fielding’s size advantage definitely didn’t matter Saturday night.
Canelo Alvarez viciously went after the taller, heavier Fielding’s body and knocked him out in the third round of their super middleweight title fight before a sellout crowd of 20,112 at Madison Square Garden. Alvarez knocked down Fielding once apiece with left hooks to the body in the first and second rounds, and twice in the third round – once with a right hand to the head and again with a left hook to the body.
Referee Ricky Gonzalez stopped the fight at 2:38 of the third round, immediately following that fourth knockdown.
Mexico’s Alvarez (51-1-2, 35 KOs), who went off as roughly a 15-1 favorite, won the WBA world super middleweight title from England’s Fielding (27-2, 15 KOs).
“He placed his shots well,” Fielding said. “He caught me. I stood there too long. … I should’ve kept it long [away from Alvarez]. I just stood there and he caught me. I gave it everything and the better man won.”
Alvarez, 28, fought for the first time at the super middleweight limit of 168 pounds. Fielding, 31, has exclusively competed at super middleweight and light heavyweight (175 pounds) throughout his eight-year pro career.
Fielding said Alvarez has “elite” and “next-level” power for the super middleweight division.
“He showed that he can hang in there with the big boys at 168 pounds,” said Oscar De La Hoya, Alvarez’s promoter.
Alvarez technically became a champion in a third weight class. He won the WBA’s secondary super middleweight title from Fielding, though.
England’s Callum Smith (25-1, 18 KOs) is the WBA’s “super” 168-pound champion. He knocked out fellow Brit George Groves in the seventh round to win that title September 28 in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
Smith also dealt Fielding his first professional defeat. He floored Fielding three times in the first round of their November 2015 fight in Liverpool, England, and won by technical knockout two minutes and 45 seconds into it.
Now that Alvarez owns a super middleweight title, De La Hoya said during the post-fight press conference that Alvarez might remain at 168 pounds for his next fight.
Alvarez, also the WBA/WBC middleweight champ, will return to the ring May 4 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. De La Hoya said after he knocked out Fielding that they’ll choose Alvarez’s next opponent at some point early next year.
Whomever Alvarez chooses, that opponent almost certainly will give the Mexican superstar a more difficult fight than Fielding provided Saturday night.
Fielding stands nearly six inches taller than Alvarez, but it was evident immediately Saturday night that Alvarez was the much harder puncher. He forced Fielding to take a knee once apiece in the first and second rounds by landing left hooks to the body.
Although he went down in each of the first two rounds, Fielding fired back at a stalking Alvarez early in the third round. The head shots Fielding landed only encouraged Alvarez to unload more hard body and head shots against a fast-fading opponent.
Alvarez later drilled Fielding with a right hand to the side of his head that again sent Fielding to one knee. The courageous ex-champion got up again, but Alvarez sent him to one knee again by drilling him with another left hook to the body.
Once Fielding went down for the fourth time in less than three rounds, Gonzalez waved an end to the completely one-sided fight.
After going down from a body shot in the first round, Fielding tried to fend off an aggressive Alvarez in the second round. Alvarez continued to hammer him to the body, however, cracked Fielding with a right uppercut and made it clear by then that this fight wouldn’t go the distance.
Another Alvarez body shot, again with a left hook, made Fielding take a knee again with around 20 seconds to go in the second round.
Alvarez threw vicious left hooks to Fielding’s body early in the first round. Fielding covered up, but he took a knee with 1:20 to go in the first round after absorbing one.
Fielding composed himself, caught his breath and easily beat Gonzalez’s count.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.