By Tom Donelson (BWAA)
Author, Member Boxing Writers Association of America
Gennady Golovkin defeated Kell Brook last week with a fifth round stoppage, and on Saturday night Saul “Canelo” Alvarez faced Liam Smith for the WBO Junior Middleweight title.
Before the main event, Gabriel Rosado and Willie Monroe, Jr. engaged in a snooze fest where punches were minimal and exchanges a rarity. The best you can say that when it ended, the audience yawned.
Joseph Diaz stopped Andrew Cancio in the ninth round as one boxing pundit tweeted, “Joseph Diaz doesn’t have a real hammer but he has a scalpel and he can cut you up many different ways.” While the fight was competitive early, Diaz’ boxing skills and punching accuracy proved decisive over the second half.
Diego De La Hoya won an easy decision over Orlandito Del Valle with one judge having him blanking Del Valle and the other two judges giving one round to De Valle.
The opening round of the Alvarez-Smith was a one-sided affair as Alvarez simply dominated Smith, landing nearly 25 more punches. Alvarez started the fight with his jab before moving toward body shots including one vicious left hook to the body. Alvarez continued his assault in the second round by cutting off the ring but toward the end of the round, Smith landed some punches and Alvarez had redness around his left eye.
Alvarez used his jabs to set up some big punches but after he attempted to land one home run punch, Smith cracked a good left uppercut. The third round was Smith’s best round of the first three rounds but he was still probably down three rounds to zero going into the fourth round. Alvarez seemed content at times to lay on the ropes before going after Smith and while Smith was landing punches at nearly the equal rate as Alvarez, they don’t have the same power.
Smith forced Alvarez to the ropes in the fifth and Alvarez manage to escape with upper cuts but Smith started to connect consistently on his shots and landed big shots of his own. However, the hard punching Alvarez managed to open a cut over his eye.
Smith continued to press the action in the sixth but his punches didn’t match the power of Alvarez. The fifth and sixth rounds were close and one could have Alvarez blanking Smith or Smith taking fifth round and sixth round.
Alvarez sent Smith down with a right hand in the seventh round but the WBO champ came back at the end of the round with a left hook. The seventh was a gut check for Smith as he was bleeding from his cuts and already down from an Alvarez right, but he kept plodding and trying to keep his championship belt. A vicious body shot in the eighth sent Smith down a second time and as the eighth closed, Smith now suffered two straight 10-8 rounds. After the sixth round, some pundits at ringside had him down only 4 rounds to 2 but even if they were correct, two 10-8 rounds in a row put Smith in a scoring pinch that he could not overtake if Alvarez didn’t stop him first.