LAS VEGAS- Outside a boxing ring, Saul “Canelo” Alvarez is a mild-mannered, soft-spoken 22-year-old fromMexico.

Inside the squared circle, Alvarez is a pent-up, raging bull, as Josesito Lopez clearly discovered last Saturday night in their World Boxing Council super-welterweight title fight at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.

For almost five thrill-packed rounds, Alvarez used Lopez as a punching bag, battering him from pillar to post, as the nearly sold-out throng on Mexican Independence Day was wildly pleased to witness.

Lopez looked spry and alert for about a minute of the opening round, but everything then went backward as Alvarez dropped him in the second, third and fourth rounds before Referee Joe Cortez, working his final bout in a long and distinguished Hall of Fame career, halted the proceeding with five seconds left in the fifth.

“Josesito has a lot of heart,” said Alvarez, through a translator after his record swelled to 41-0-1 with 30 knockouts. “I’m very happy.”

The only reason Lopez was in with a brawler like Alvarez was that he somehow managed to break Victor Ortiz’s jaw in a meeting this June atStaplesCenter.

Then again, Ortiz, who was in attendance and booed lustily by the pro-Alvarez crowd, would likely have suffered the same fate as Lopez.

“Canelo’s too good,” said Lopez, who now owns a mark of 30-5-0 with 18 knockouts. “He’s too bad. We felt good, but he’s a strong fighter, and he’s a smart fighter.”

Shorter by an inch at 5-foot-9, Alvarez is broad from the waist up, and his shoulders are wide which gives him significant punching power, and was evident from the opening bell.

Alvarez stalked Lopez and when he found him, hammered away at his midsection and rib area. These punches are highly effective and can wear down an opponent.

Alvarez decked Lopez with a sharp left late in the second round, and came back in the third round with another clean left that floored Lopez early.

Alvarez used a right-left combination to drop Lopez a third time late in the fourth round, and a non-stop, two-fisted barrage in the fifth round was more proof this evening belonged to the redhead.

On the undercard,Argentina’s Marcos Maidana took home a technical knockout win overMexico’s Jesus Soto Karass in the eighth round of their vacant World Boxing Association Intercontinental welterweight championship clash.

For much of the fight, Maidana (32-3-0 with 29 KO’s) had trouble finding his range, but it came in the seventh round when he put Karass (26-8-3 with 17 KO’s) on the canvas with a neat right hand.

Karass was game and even won a few rounds before wilting under Maidana’s skill and relentless pressure.

In a WBC featherweight title match, Daniel Ponce DeLeonpicked up a technical decision triumph over Jhonny Gonzalez after an accidental head butt in the eighth round stopped the fight.

A southpaw, Ponce De Leon (44-4-0 with 35 KO’s) started slowly, but erupted in the sixth round with a knockdown late against Gonzalez (52-8-0 with 45 KO’s), and was ahead on the three judges’ scorecards.

Rick Assad has been a sportswriter for more than two decades. He has a political science degree from UCLA, a journalism degree from CSUN, is a staff writer for diamondboxing.com, and is a columnist for socalboxing.wordpress.com. You may e-mail him at richsports5@sbcglobal.net.

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