Updated October 1, 2023 - 11:14 am
The bassy beat of Mexican rapper Santa Fe Klan filled T-Mobile Arena.
It set the rhythm Saturday for Canelo Alvarez’s amble down into the boxing ring and rallied thousands of his die-hard fans as Jermell Charlo stood anxiously in the red corner, the hood of his sparkling black robe hanging over his eyes.
Alvarez, the 33-year-old Mexican superstar, bounced to the music — relaxed, clad in a custom gold Dolce & Gabanna poncho and armed with the mojo he forgot to bring to his last three fights.
“Nobody can beat this Canelo,” he told Showtime’s Jim Gray after a masterful 119-108, 118-09, 118-09 victory.
That’s not yet certain. This is, though: Charlo definitely couldn’t.
Blending educated pressure with a relentless body attack, Alvarez stalked the 33-year-old Houstonian around the ring, dropping him in the seventh round with a perfectly placed overhand right to the temple and maintaining his pace in the final five rounds.
Instead of responding with the aggression that helped him attain the undisputed junior middleweight title, Charlo was content to circle Alvarez and clinch when he neared — determined far more to finish the fight on his feet than actually mount a successful attack.
CompuBox counted for Alvarez 134 connections while Charlo landed 71 — adding 78 power punches and 4o to the body compared to 31 and nine for Charlo, respectively.
“We know he’s a great fighter,” Alvarez said. “He knows how to move in the ring. But we worked. We worked out three months in the gym in the mountains, without my family. But I still love boxing. I love boxing so (expletive) much. Boxing is my life. Boxing made me the person I am today. … And I love boxing that much because of my fans, too.”
They reciprocated with a celebratory ovation.
Alvarez had failed to inspire in his last three outings: a loss to Dmitry Bivol and wins over Gennady Golovkin and John Ryder, all via decision and all devoid of his generational greatness.
But Charlo, a 168-pound debutante, was tailor-made for Alvarez, who trained in the altitude of the Sierra Nevada to reclaim the conditioning he recently lacked. He arrived this week in Las Vegas chiseled, fit and in far superior fighting condition than his opponent.
Charlo never pressured, fighting instead for 12 rounds with his weight on his back foot, morphing from the lion with which he metaphorically identifies instead into a lamb. Charlo was as timid in the fight as he was throughout the promotion, abandoning his usual braggadocio for a respectful approach that he brought with him into the boxing ring.
He hadn’t fought in 16 months, and his left hand was broken in his previous training camp.
“I just felt like I wasn’t me in there,” Charlo said.
“I don’t make excuses for myself, so it is what it is. I take my punches and roll with it. It’s boxing. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose,” he added. “Truthfully, I could feel the difference in the weight. I jumped up 14 pounds. I am undisputed in my weight division. I was daring to be great, but you fall short sometimes. You just have to keep on pushing. My road don’t stop right here.”
Despite the uninspired outing, Charlo still called for Terence Crawford, the undisputed welterweight champion and pound-for-pound king, who sat ringside coveting a far more high-profile fight with Alvarez.
Other notable attendees included Floyd Mayweather, Sugar Ray Leonard, Julio Cesar Chavez, Roy Jones Jr., Devin Haney, Caleb Plant, Rolando Romero and Leo Santa Cruz.
Despite a brotherly rift, Charlo’s twin, Jermall, accompanied him during his ringwalk. Blood remains thicker than water.
Alvarez also remains one of boxing’s pound-for-pound best, reclaiming the bounce in his step he lost, if only for a moment.
He said he plans to fight again next year on Cinco de Mayo. David Benavidez remains a viable opponent, as is Crawford, though seemingly an unlikely one.
“Against whoever,” Alvarez added. “I don’t care.”
The king, as Alvarez maintains as his moniker, remains the king, for now.