Canelo Álvarez Made a Mandatory Fight a Spectacle. Is a Bigger Bout Next?

After Saúl Álvarez received a lopsided choice over John Ryder on Saturday evening, he made some small wardrobe changes earlier than being interviewed about remaining the undisputed super-middleweight champion.

The gold crown he wore on his stroll to the ring at Estadio Akron in Zapopan, Mexico, close to Guadalajara, was gone, changed by a gold-colored laurel wreath. Álvarez, whose nickname is Canelo, had additionally added a commemorative belt to the opposite world title straps adorning him, this one commissioned by the World Boxing Council to have a good time his return to his hometown.

It was a second to have a good time. And for Álvarez, 32, it was additionally a chance to make plain that his goal for September remained the identical.

Now that he had dispatched Ryder through bruising unanimous choice, Álvarez needed a rematch with the final man to defeat him, Dmitry Bivol, within the weight class the place they clashed final time, the 175-pound light-heavyweight division.

“Everybody is aware of we would like Bivol,” mentioned Álvarez, whose file is now 59-2-2.

Saturday’s title protection towards Ryder was greater than an afterthought — the WBC had ordered the bout. Álvarez needed to battle him or threat being stripped of the WBC belt.

But the matchup was nonetheless a type of pretext, a purpose to have a good time Álvarez’s first bout in his native nation since 2011. While loads of empty seats had been seen early throughout the undercard on Saturday evening, the stadium had stuffed in by the point Álvarez strolled to the ring amid an unlimited spectacle heavy on mariachis, fireworks and dancers.

Another fireworks show erupted from the stadium’s roof after the judges’ choice for Álvarez was introduced.

If the celebration was the principle level of the battle, the subplot was Álvarez’s future, as a champion and pay-per-view attraction.

After defeating Gennadiy Golovkin final September, Álvarez underwent surgical procedure to restore an injured left hand. He then spent Saturday evening thumping Ryder with jabs and left hooks, indicating his fist had recovered.

A 12 months after his upset loss to Bivol, Álvarez’s satisfaction would possibly nonetheless be therapeutic. In the moments after that bout, Álvarez reacted with grace and sportsmanship. But the promoter Eddie Hearn, the pinnacle of Matchroom Boxing, which teamed with Álvarez to stage the Ryder bout, mentioned late Saturday evening that Álvarez nonetheless yearned to avenge final 12 months’s loss.

“He misplaced, and it eats him up daily,” Hearn mentioned in a broadcast interview after the battle. “We must make it occur.”

A Bivol rematch is one in all a number of high-profile choices for Álvarez, whose fights are inclined to align with celebrations of Latino tradition. Saturday’s bout fell on Cinco de Mayo weekend, and his earlier bout towards Golovkin befell throughout Mexico’s Independence Day celebrations in September.

Álvarez may conceivably defend his super-middleweight titles towards one of many undefeated contenders, David Benavidez and David Morrell Jr., who’ve been campaigning for a bout with him.

Any of these choices would yield a big-money bout that will most probably draw Álvarez again to the United States, the place deep-pocketed hosts and sponsors may enhance the potential payday. Álvarez made a reported $60 million in assured cash for his two bouts in 2022 and acknowledged taking a pay reduce for Saturday’s bout in Mexico.

None of the possible fights are assured.

While Álvarez is a free agent along with his personal promotional firm, he has teamed with Matchroom Boxing for six of his final seven bouts. Benavidez and Morrell are each signed to the Premier Boxing Champions managerial outfit.

Bivol is signed to Matchroom, however he and Álvarez are already sparring over contract particulars. Álvarez needs to battle at light-heavyweight — he may win Bivol’s belt however maintain his personal super-middleweight titles, if he loses. Bivol would favor to problem for Álvarez’s titles at 168 kilos.

“That is the largest battle by a mile for Dmitry Bivol,” Hearn mentioned. “I hope that he accepts the problem.”

So Bivol was invested in Saturday’s consequence. Before the battle, he tweeted out an uncannily correct forecast.

“Fireworks needs to be there for positive,” he mentioned, together with a sport underdog towards a grasp in his hometown.

In Ryder, a rugged slugger from North London, Álvarez met a mirror picture. Ryder is 5 ft 9 inches to Álvarez’s 5-8, however each males are bull-necked, thick-limbed super-middleweights who weighed in at 166.7 kilos at Friday’s weigh-in. While Álvarez is an orthodox fighter who stands along with his left foot ahead, Ryder, a southpaw, leads along with his proper aspect.

But they differ in pedigree. Ryder entered Saturday with 32 wins and 5 losses, and had by no means received a main world title. Álvarez had received belts in 4 divisions, and had misplaced solely twice — to Bivol and Floyd Mayweather Jr. — in his 62 earlier professional bouts.

According to CompuBox, the fighters threw practically an similar variety of punches — 459 for Ryder, in comparison with 457 for Álvarez. But Álvarez landed 179 punches, whereas Ryder related on 80.

Ryder most well-liked to battle at shut vary, however Álvarez spent the early rounds edging ahead and presenting Ryder with a number of painful choices. He may circle clockwise, the place Álvarez clubbed him with roundhouse rights, or transfer counterclockwise — immediately into the heavy left hooks Álvarez swung at his rib cage.

Or Ryder, bleeding closely from his nostril by Round 4, may keep in entrance of Álvarez, within the path of straight proper palms, just like the one which knocked him down late within the fifth.

Ryder survived the spherical, and even tried to rally late within the battle, as Álvarez’s output slowed within the practically mile-high altitude. Álvarez landed 117 of 253 energy punches, in keeping with CompuBox.

Álvarez speculated that the prospect of an upset over a pound-for-pound elite opponent spurred Ryder to last more than anticipated.

“They come tougher than typical, however I do know that,” he mentioned. “I’m on this place a very long time.”

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