Saturday night in Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico, at the Akron Stadium, was a spectacle. In front of a sold-out crowd of over 51,000, undisputed super middleweight champion Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez (59-2-2, 39 KOs)successfully defended his titles by earning a one-sided, dominant unanimous decision over John Ryder (32-6, 18 KOs).
THE KING HAS COME BACK HOME
#CaneloRyder pic.twitter.com/LoCWwfSB6m— DAZN Boxing (@DAZNBoxing) May 7, 2023
After an entrance into the ring that was fit for a King, ironically, a day after King Charles III Coronation ceremony, Canelo entered the ring with a crown and a royal green cape as he was showered with love from those in attendance. The size of the ring was the next noticeable thing for those just watching the main event. It seemed a lot smaller than your traditional size ring, which could have been for two reasons: To have the ability to sell more floor tickets and, most importantly, to create an environment where fighting would occur to hopefully lead to a knockout. Only one of those things happened, as Canelo could not finish off Ryder.
Early in the fight, Canelo did what everyone expected: applying pressure and breaking down Ryder. That left hook to the body was coming in hard, and being Ryder is a southpaw, the left jab came often, followed by the straight right hand. A punch that busted Ryder’s nose in the third round caused him all types of problems throughout the fight. It wasn’t until the fifth round that Canelo caught Ryder with a straight right hand that sent the Englishmen down to the canvas for the fight’s only knockdown. As much as Canelo tried to finish Ryder, he simply couldn’t. Canelo continued to dominate and won a near shutout to retain his titles and call for the Dmitry Bivol (21-0, 11 KOs) fight at 175 lbs in September.
Here is the part of the article where you may not want to hear this if you are a Canelo fanatic. Canelo has now entered the third and final phase of his career. The first phase is usually amateur through prospect. Then the second is contender through champion. The third and final phase is when you have all of the accolades but have to find new ways to win because your physical abilities aren’t as good as they used to be.
DID WE IGNORE THE SIGNS?
There were signs of it during the third Gennadiy ‘GGG’ Golovkin fight in September of last year, but we all ignored it, especially since Canelo needed surgery on his hand. Then leading up to fight night, Canelo told a small group of us that he had been fighting through an injured hand for the past two years. I could accept that, but last night, we once again saw a version of Canelo that we are not used to seeing, and that’s okay. He’s been a professional fighter for nearly 18 years and is 32, which can be the beginning of the end in boxing years.
For the amount of miles Canelo has on his body odometer, it was just a matter of time. To use a baseball reference, Canelo no longer possesses a plus fastball and is now a low to mid 90’s one. Once that happens, you have to create new ways to be successful, and that is where Canelo is at this point in his career. That vintage head movement we are used to seeing wasn’t there, and his reflexes were a tic slower. The four, five, and six-punch combinations were non-existent, and Canelo was getting touched up more than often. Again, he’s human, an older fighter, and all these things will happen when those things come together.
CANELO VS BIVOL IN SEPT?
🗣️ "This was historic! I'm happy with the fight... John is a very strong fighter. We want Bivol, same rules and terms!" - @Canelo #CaneloRyder | @DAZNBoxing pic.twitter.com/6YuNmgmdRK— Matchroom Boxing (@MatchroomBoxing) May 7, 2023
After the fight, Canelo called for a rematch against Bivol in September at 175lbs but quickly added that they would look for the next available option if he did not get that fight. Deep down inside, Canelo knows that a rematch with Bivol will have the same results but is willing to give it a go, and that’s the part that the fans love about him. I won’t use the expression that Canelo is in the “Back nine” of his career, but he has just entered the last phase. Canelo will still be better than most at super middleweight but now has to rely on his boxing IQ and strategy to win instead of his pure abilities.
Canelo will go down as an all-time great in boxing and his home country of Mexico. Fans will forever remember Saturday Night as they did many years ago when Julio Cesar Chavez packed in over 134,000 at the Aztec stadium against Greg Haugen. Canelo has had a great career to this point, but we have to all accept that we have now entered the third and last phase of it.