By Ryan Burton
Canelo Alvarez beat Miguel Cotto on a unanimous points decision to win the WBC world middleweight title in Las Vegas on Saturday.
Alvarez, the pre-fight favourite, lived up to his billing with a powerful display at the Mandalay Bay Events Center, and took his career record to 46-1-1, with 32 KOs.
After a relatively even contest early on, the Mexican established his dominance over the Puerto Rican with a devastating series of blows in the eighth round.
All three judges agreed Alvarez had won the contest comfortably, awarding him between nine and 11 of the 12 rounds.
Cotto, who lost for just the fifth time in 45 career fights, was stripped of the WBC world title earlier in the week after refusing to pay the reported $300,000 sanctioning fee the organisation demanded.
No sooner was the fight over then talk turned to a possible clash with Kazakh world champion Gennady Golovkin, the unbeaten WBA, IBF and interim WBC champion, nicknamed 'GGG'.
Alvarez said: "We knew going into this fight that it would be a difficult journey, but I feel that I was the faster and stronger fighter tonight.
"I have respect for Golovkin, but if we do fight, it's going to be at my weight class. I'm the champion, I don't have to do what he wants."
On the undercard, Francisco Vargas stormed back and came off the canvas to win the WBC super-featherweight title from Takashi Miura, via ninth-round technical knock-out.
The clash lived up to its billing as a potential show-stealer on the night, with Vargas hurting the Japanese in the opening round, but Miura battled through.
Miura dominated the next two rounds and then seemingly had Vargas on the brink in the eighth before a timely bell for the Mexican, who came out firing in the ninth. After several more clean shots, referee Tony Weeks was forced to stop the fight at one minute and 32 seconds.
Meanwhile, former WBA and WBO super-bantamweight world champion Guillermo Rigondeaux returned to the ring after an 11-month absence with a unanimous points victory over Filipino Drian Francisco in a 10-round contest.
The Cuban retained his unbeaten record by earning the verdict 97-93, 100-90 and 100-90 from the three judges after an uninspiring contest.
"I feel terrific after the fight," said Rigondeaux. "He threw heavy but his style has nothing on mine. My style outmatched his.
"It's been 11 months since I've been in the ring and I definitely felt some cobwebs but I'd like to see some other fighters be out 11 months and come back with a win."