Mexican sensation Saul “Canelo” Alvarez knocked down Josesito Lopez three times en route to a dominating fifth round technical knockout defense of his WBC Super Welterweight World Championship in front of a sold out crowd of 14,275 fans at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, NV on Saturday.
Canelo headlined the Showtime Championship Boxing weekend quadruple header and the undefeated Mexican star did not disappoint his fans on Mexican Independence Day. Dubbed “Knockout Kings,” the promotion lived up to its billing, producing three entertaining knockouts in which none of the scheduled 12-round bouts went past the eighth round.
In what surely will be considered a “Fight of the Year” candidate, former world champion Marcos Maidana (32-3, 28 KOs) of Santa Fe, Argentina, scored a controversial technical knockout at 0:43 of the eighth round as referee Kenny Bayless seemed to stop the bout prematurely giving Maidana the win over perennial contender Jesus Soto Karass (26-8-3, 17 KOs) of Sinaloa, Mexico to capture the vacant WBA Intercontinental Welterweight Title.
As promised leading into the blockbuster event, Golden Boy Promotions awarded a $100,000 bonus to the knockout of the night, decided via a text-to-vote competition that was promoted on Showtime and inside the MGM Grand Garden Arena. In a decision that thrilled his thousands of screaming fans inside the arena, Canelo was awarded the check for his electrifying performance.
President of Golden Boy Promotions Oscar De La Hoya then made a surprise announcement and awarded each victorious fighter an additional $25,000 bonus for their impressive efforts.
Alvarez (41-0-1, 30 KOs), of Guadalajara, Mexico, scored knockdowns in the second, third and fourth rounds before referee Joe Cortez stopped the bout at 2:55 of the fifth round when a defenseless Lopez was visibly hurt against the ropes and could not fight back.
“I’m not always looking for the knockout, but this was perfect tonight,” Canelo said. “I had a big responsibility fighting for my fans around the world this weekend and I think I made them happy. I want the big fights now, (Miguel) Cotto and (Floyd) Mayweather.”
Lopez (30-5, 18 KOS), of Riverside, CA, was impressed by Canelo’s performance.
“I knew he was a tough fighter and he proved he’s a better fighter,” Lopez said. “He was smarter, stronger and patient. I felt good going in but there was a big size difference. I was hoping to land a good punch to change the momentum.”
It’s worth noting that Lopez has fought most of his career between the Lightweight and Junior Welterweight limits of 135 and 140 lbs., respectively, was making his first appearance at 154 lbs. Nevertheless, Lopez delivered a valiant effort against a much bigger and stronger opponent in Alvarez.
In other bouts featured on Showtime, Daniel Ponce De Leon (44-4, 35 KOs), of Chihuahua, Mexico registered a technical decision over defending champion Jhonny Gonzalez (52-8-0, 45 KOs), of Mexico City, Mexico, to capture the WBC Featherweight World Championship.
In the opening bout of the evening, Leo Santa Cruz (21-0-1, 12 KOs), of Los Angeles, CA by way of Michoacan, Mexico, defended his IBF Bantamweight World Championship against former two-time world champion Eric Morel (46-4-0, 23 KOs), of San Juan, Puerto Rico, with a technical knockout victory at the end of the fifth round when Morel’s corner stopped the bout.
Note to readers:
Saturday’s fights will replay on Sunday, Sept. 16 at 10 a.m. ET/PT on Showtime, on Tuesday, Sept. 18 at 10 p.m. ET/PT on Showtime Extreme and will be available On Demand from Sept. 16 thru October 15.