World

Alvarez stops Plant to become undisputed super middleweight champ

Alvarez becomes the sixth fighter to hold all four belts from the separate boxing governing bodies at the same time.

With a destructive barrage of power punches in the waning minutes of a difficult fight, Saul “Canelo” Alvarez added another achievement to his overflowing list of boxing accomplishments.

The Mexican pound-for-pound superstar is the undisputed super middleweight champion of the world.

He became the first four-belt world champion at 76kg (168 pounds) in boxing history on Saturday night, stopping Caleb Plant in the 11th with two dramatic knockdowns.

Alvarez (57-1-2, 39 KOs) added Plant’s IBF title to his own WBC, WBA and WBO belts with a steady tactical performance culminating in a display of his vaunted power to finish the previously unbeaten Plant at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.

The 31-year-old, generally recognised as the top fighter in the world regardless of weight class, now has complete dominance in one weight class.

He became the sixth man to be a four-belt champion, joining junior welterweight Josh Taylor as the only current undisputed champions of their weight class.

“It hasn’t been easy to get to this point,” Alvarez said. “With my team, I have gone really far.

“This is for everybody, especially for Mexico. We are only six. It keeps me happy and motivated to be one of the six undisputed fighters in the world.”

Alvarez added the IBF belt to his WBC, WBA and WBO straps [David Becker/Getty Images via AFP]

After stopping three of his previous four opponents, Alvarez had to grind through a challenging matchup with the tenacious Plant (21-1), who usually moved backwards and worked behind his jab to stay away from Alvarez’s power.

Alvarez remained persistent and racked up a volume of quality punches and, in the opening seconds of the 11th round, he sent Plant crashing to the canvas with a vicious combination followed by an uppercut while Plant tried to duck away.

Plant got up unsteadily and Alvarez dropped him again with two big right hands, forcing referee Russell Mora to end it at 1:05 of the 11th round.

Plant is a sturdy fighter and an inspirational athlete who overcame numerous personal tragedies to earn a shot at the pound-for-pound champ, but the Tennessee native found out just how big the gap remains between Alvarez and his contemporaries.

Alvarez landed more than 32 percent of his 361 punches, while Plant connected on just 23 percent of his 441 shots, which included 232 jabs – more than twice as many as Alvarez.

The Mexican fighter excelled in power punches, landing 40 percent of 251 power shots while wearing down Plant.

Alvarez is the first Mexican fighter to reign undisputed atop a division, and every flag-waving fan in the vehemently pro-Canelo sellout crowd of 16,586 seemed aware of the achievement.

The champion, a Guadalajara native, spoke frequently before the fight of his determination to achieve the feat both for himself and for Mexico.

Alvarez extended the most successful active career in boxing with his eighth consecutive victory in just over three years. He has not lost in 16 fights since dropping a majority decision to Floyd Mayweather in 2013, with only a draw against Gennady Golovkin blemishing his record.

Alvarez and Plant had no personal animus until September when Alvarez took offence at an insult from Plant during a news conference in Beverly Hills to promote the bout. Alvarez and Plant briefly scrapped, leaving Plant with a cut on his face and a new avenue of motivation.

Alvarez celebrates his 11th round technical knock out win against Plant [David Becker/Getty Images via AFP]




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