By Jake Donovan
Eleider Alvarez remained unbeaten and on course for a potential title shot at World light heavyweight champion Adonis Stevenson after outpoiniting Isidro Ranoni Prieto.
Scores were 117-111 across the board in favor of Alvarez (18-0, 10KOs) in front of a partisan crowd at Bell Centre in Montreal, Canada.
Alvarez fared well when he was able to dictate the pace through pure boxing. Prieto traveled too far, however, to simply make things that easy for the local favorite. An unbeaten but unheralded light heavyweight fighting out of Argentina, Prieto gave away most of the opeing round before briefly stunning Alvarez towards the end of the frame.
Similar instances took place later in the fight - namely in rounds seven and nine. Whether or not it was enough for Prieto to win those rounds was a mystery eventually solved by fight's end, when the judges only found three out of 12 to score in his favor.
The lopsided scores shouldn't be mistaken for an easy night's work for Alvarez. A two-way exchange in round six saw both fighters have their say, but with Alvarez forced to dig deeper than most expected in order to win rounds.
Fortunately for the Montreal-based Colombian, the training camp was designed to survive such moments.
"I was prepared to go 12 rounds," Alvarez said after the fight. "I didn't want to, I wanted the knockout, but I was ready for a 12-round fight and happy to get the win."
It wouldn't come without some rough patches in the championship rounds. Prieto gave it one last push in round 11, scoring upstairs and opening a cut over Alvarez' eye. It was his last hurrah, as Alvarez was able to resume control in the 12th and final round to preserve the win in a fight much more competitive than the final scores suggested.
Prieto suffers his first career loss, falling to 24-1-3 (13KOs). The fight was his first in North America, having spent his career in his adopted home of Argentina and birth country in Paraguay.
The unfamiliar surroundings were of no concern to the visiting challenger, whose performance was praised by his eventual conqueror.
"It was a good fight, a hard fight," Alvarez acknowledged. "He was in there to fight and I'm grateful for the win."
The bout was contested for the WBC "Silver" light heavyweight title, which is functionally a glorified eliminator. Alvarez and Stevenson are both promoted by Yvon Michel and fight under the PBC banner, which should make such a fight easy to make. However, Alvarez could find himself in a final eliminator with Isaac Chilemba to eventually determine the next mandatory challenger for Stevenson, who faces Tommy Karpency on September 11 in Toronto.
In swing bout action, Caleb "Sweethands" Plant scored two knockdowns en route to a 1st round knockout of Hungary's Zoltan Sera.
There was mid-week confusion as to whom Plant would be facing this weekend. Sera was believed all along to be the official opponent, but Plant's team was informed prior to boarding a plane that Germany's Chris Hermann. By the time he landed, Sera was back in the picture, flying halfway around the world from Hungary for the televised swing bout.
A fairer fight would have been for both Hermann and Sera to face Plant at the same time. Two early knockdowns led to a 1st round knockout, Plant's fourth of 2015.
Jake Donovan is the managing editor of BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox