Fury and Ngannou face offSep 8
Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez made history by becoming the first undisputed world super-middle weight champion after defeating Caleb Plant in Las Vegas.
The pound-for-pound king was made to work hard for his place in the history books as a tight affair went all the way to the 11th round at the MGM Grand.
But a fierce left hook set up a grandstand finish with the Mexican delighting the 16,500 capacity crowd by adding the IBF title to his collection.
The victory was Canelo’s fourth inside a year and sees the 31-year-old become the first man to hold the WBA, WBC, WBO and now IBF straps at 168lbs.
Canelo vs Plant - Full fight report
Alvarez took the centre of the ring from the first bell and patiently eyed up his opponent, gradually walking Plant back against the ropes by the end of the round.
The Mexican came out on the front foot in the second, throwing some of those trademark right hands and again drove his opponent back towards the ropes.
The American did fire some shots of his own and pose problems for the favourite, but was at times a little too static in the early part of the second round.
The third round followed a similar pattern with Plant being worked around the ring, raising his left hand a little higher than in the opening exchanges to protect himself.
He showed no sense of “fear” according to BT Sport’s Steve Bunce and the unbeaten IBF champion more than held his own.
Canelo found his range midway through the fourth as he got the crowd on their feet with some aggressive body shots against a rooted Plant.
But 'Sweethands' recovered well and came on strong in the final minute, even shaking his head almost dismissing the power of a left hook his 31-year-old opponent.
Alvarez seemed to show signs of frustration in the fifth, catching his opponent with a low blow, as the evenly-contested bout kept the capacity crowd engaged.
Plant was blinking a little uncomfortably in his right eye at the start of the sixth, with a bit of swelling at the top of the American’s cheek.
Canelo seemed to have found his groove come the sixth as the pound-for-pound king looked to up the ante and take the fight to his opponent, who struggled to move his feet quick enough and evade the shots.
The Mexican smirked at his opponent at the end of the round and looked more confident heading into the second half of the fight.
Initially Plant was struggling to land anything more than jabs and halt the momentum before Canelo seemed to invite his unbeaten opponent onto him, looking to punish any mistakes.
The eighth followed a similar pattern with Alvarez finding it difficult to land his power shots as he chased the 39th knockout of his illustrious career.
Canelo upped the pace at the start of the ninth but Plant, 29, responded in kind as he landed a strong right hand at the end of a fast combination, with former heavyweight champion Mike Tyson watching on among the capacity crowd.
As we entered the final quarter, Canelo showed greater urgency about his work but the Mexican continued to struggle to land any meaningful power shots against his awkward foe.
In yet another close round, Plant seemed happier to stand and trade in the centre of the ring, with Richie Woodhall having the American a round up heading into the final two.
The fight exploded at the start of the 11th with Alvarez again pushing his opponent up against the ropes before catching a huge left hook.
With Plant dazed, the three-belt champion went in for the finish and knocked his opponent to the canvas, with the American seeing an eight-count before re-entering the bout.
But it wouldn’t last much longer as Canelo sensed blood – and history – landing another huge left hand before a combination sent his opponent to the floor once again and the referee stepped in.
In a tight contest the Mexican showed why he is regarded as one of the all-time greats, taking his opportunity in devastating fashion to claim the victory and his place in boxing folklore.
Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez
“It hasn’t been easy to get to this point but with the support of my family and team we’ve come really far.
“This is for everybody, especially Mexico, another one for my team and we did it tonight!
“This means so much in the history of Mexico to be the first undisputed champion. I’m one of six and happy to be one of the undisputed champions of the world.
“I have respect for Caleb Plant, he was a very difficult fighter and he has a lot of ability and I respect the fighter.
“At the end he wanted to still fight me but I told him ‘there’s no shame, we had a great fight today’ and I came out on top but he did apologise for the motherf****r incident, he didn’t mean it that way.
“At the end I said we are men, everything is ok and lets keep going.”
“I don’t think he [Alvarez] was at his best tonight but a lot of credit has to be given to Caleb Plant because he was awkward from the start, he was quick and had good angles.
“But you always felt Canelo was going to close in and step up the work rate, which he did, and fair play they were great shots to finish the fight.
“I thought the fight was quite even but Canelo finished the stronger and Plant was getting tired in the 11th and there were some good shots to finish him, a beautiful upper cut.”
“I was getting a bit impatient, I was like ‘when are you going to let it go?’ and in round 11 he got that bit closer and the left hook that kept missing landed and it landed flush.
“The moment it landed and you saw the change in Caleb Plant’s body language, Canelo didn’t want to let him off the hook.”
“I had Canelo only one round up at the time of the stoppage but Plant proved a lot of people wrong and depending what happens now with Canelo and the belts, I have no doubt that he [Plant] can become a champion again.”
“It was a hard fight because of the movement of Caleb Plant and he did good work with his jab and Alvarez couldn’t close the gap down.
“He was getting frustrated, his corner were getting frustrated, the crowd were getting frustrated! But what a champion he is, the first undisputed super-middleweight champion.
“He had to pull that from somewhere and he found the left hook to finish the contest. Once he got it going he finished him off in fantastic style.”
What next for Canelo?
“We don’t know, we need to rest – we deserve it.”
That was the post-fight answer from the man himself, who understandably wants to survey the land after making history.
The 31-year-old has been busy in 2021, racking up four victories and cementing his legacy even further.
After conquering the 168lbs division, the Mexican may look to return to light heavyweight and add more belts to his collection with names like Artur Beterbiev, Dmitry Bivol and Gilberto Ramirez being mooted.
That’s not to say that a trilogy bout at super-middleweight with Gennady Golovkin is off the cards either and our very own Steve Bunce is even backing Alvarez for a surprise move up to cruiserweight.
Whatever Canelo decides to do next the world will be watching as one of the world’s leading global pay-per-view stars is always box office.
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