Boxing’s newest sensation hails from Mexico, doesn’t speak English and walked into the ring last Saturday night at the Honda Center without a loss.
Saul “Canelo’’ Alvarez kept his streak intact with a lopsided unanimous decision over England‘s Matthew Hatton in their vacant World Boxing Council super-welterweight title fight.
An overwhelming 14-to-1 choice, Alvarez pounded his way to victory by landing 53 percent of his power punches and 47 percent of his total punches, but still wasn’t able to floor Hatton, younger brother to Ricky, a former welterweight king.
With 11,674 fans in attendance, the red-haired Alvarez employed a two-fisted body barrage that included jarring wallops to the head. Alvarez was able to gash Hatton above the left eye in the fourth round.
Still, Hatton, who landed 25 percent of his total punches and 26 percent of his power shots, didn’t budge, proving stubborn with a genuine capacity to absorb tremendous punishment, if not walk away with a victory.
“He’s happy that his dream became a reality,’’ said Oscar De La Hoya, a one-time world title holder and President of Golden Boy Promotions. “It was a very tough fight. He respects Matthew.”
Hatton (41-5-2 with 16 knockouts) entered with more bouts than Alvarez, but lacked brawn and bulk to have a legitimate chance of prevailing.
Alvarez was the aggressor, while Hatton, who hit on 24 percent of his jabs, decided it was better to counter-punch, and if this failed, simply clinch and hold.
“I don’t think he has massive weaknesses,’’ said Hatton of Alvarez. “A fighter can always improve. He’ll do some great things.”
The difference was size and strength according to Hatton. “He was too big and came through them [my punches]. It was a tough fight. I gave it my best. I was never seriously hurt.’’
Counter-punching can be useful, but the blows must be clean and sturdy. At best, Hatton would mount short rallies, never landing multiple punches.
The opening round lacked drama, but it picked up in the next round with the 20-year-old Alvarez seizing control.
In the third, Alvarez landed an upper cut early, while Hatton tried to answer. The fight turned in the fourth round as Alvarez opened a two-inch cut that had to be closed.
“He felt wonderful that the people responded to him,’’ said De La Hoya of Alvarez being the crowd favorite. “What we saw tonight was history. Saul is the youngest to win a championship in this weight class.”
After a deliberate fifth round, the sixth became another rallying cry for Alvarez (36-0-1 with 26 KO’s), who again charged at the body and head.
At the same time, the 29-year-old Hatton answered, but it was not enough against the younger and stronger man.
Alvarez dominated the next four rounds before the action tailed off somewhat with one round left.
The final round was a repeat of the others, with Hatton willing to stand and deliver, but Alvarez, who converted on 26 percent of his jabs, was simply too sound.
Rick Assad has been a sportswriter for more than two decades. He has a political science degree from UCLA, a journalism degree from CSUN, and is a staff writer for diamondboxing.com, and is a columnist for socalboxing.wordpress.com. You may e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.