WBC super welterweight champion Saul “Canelo” Alvarez (38-0-1, 28 KOs) showed an impressive finishing kick against challenger Alfonso Gomez (23-5-2, 12 KOs), roaring to a sixth-round knockout victory after a series of uncharacteristically sluggish rounds. The referee’s stoppage seemed premature, but Gomez was concilatory if resigned. (“It is what it is,” he said.) The last of eight undercard bouts was simulcast from Staples Center in Los Angeles. Here at the MGM Grand, four HD screens descended from the rafters to give ticketholders an excellent view. (Here’s are close and wide views of the setup.)
Mexican legend Erik Morales (51-7, 35 KOs) stopped Pablo Cesar Cano, Jr. (22-1-1, 17 KOs) for the vacant WBC super lightweight title when referee Kenny Bayless halted the action between the 10th and 11th rounds. Morales, 35, overcame a slow start to find range with his jab — he landed 100 of 292 jabs (34 percent) compared to 82 of 368 for Cano (22 percent) — and later worked a large gash under the 22-year-old’s left eye that bloodied his face badly. With the victory, Morales became the first-ever Mexican fighter to capture titles in four different weight classes, though more than a few questioned the validity of the title — the WBC stripped Timothy Bradley of the belt a mere six months after he won it from Devon Alexander in the first major fight of 2011.
In the first televised bout, Jessie Vargas (17-0, 9 KOs) of Las Vegas escaped with a controversial split decision over Josesito Lopez (29-4, 17 KOs) of Riverside, Calif., in a 10-round welterweight fight. Lopez applied pressure early and seemed in control even before Vargas, a Floyd Mayweather protege, had a point deducted for a low blow in the sixth. Duane Ford (95-94) and Patricia Morse Jarman (96-93) scored it to Vargas, while Dick Houck had it 95-94 to Lopez. “He was a hell of a fighter and I give him nothing but respect,” said Vargas, who landed 167 of 851 punches compared to 122 of 509 for Lopez. “I think I fell into his game plan a little bit, but my corner straightened that out by the end of the fight.”
In the last non-televised prelim, Kyrone Butler (1-0, 0 KOs) outpointed Cassius Clay (0-1, 0 KOs) in a four-round junior lightweight fight. All three judges scored it 40-36. Both fighters were making their professional debuts.
Carson Jones (32-8-2, 22 KOs) of Oklahoma City, Okla., won by a technical knockout over Said Ouali (28-4, 20 KOs) of Las Vegas in a 10-round welterweight contest when referee Vic Drakulich stopped it on the ring doctor’s advice between the seventh and eighth rounds. It marked Jones’ sixth straight knockout.
Adonis Stevenson (15-1, 12 KOs) of Canada scored a first-round knockout of Dion Savage (10-2, 6 KOs) of Flint, Mich., dropping Savage with a left-right combination early and sustaining the pressure until referee Tony Weeks intervened at the 1:57 mark.
Anthony Crolla (22-2, 9 KOs) of England won his ninth straight fight with a split-decision victory over Juan Manuel Montiel of Mexico City in an eight-round lightweight bout. Crolla dominated the action, opening a cut over Montiel’s right eye in the fifth, so Patricia Morse Jarman’s score of 77-75 in favor of Montiel was received with horror on press row. Jay Nady (77-75) and Duane Ford (78-74) scored it correctly to Manchester’s Crolla.
In the night’s first bout, Marco Antonio Periban (15-0, 10 KOs) of Mexico City won a unanimous decision over Dhafir Smith (24-22-7, 4 KOs) of Upper Darby, Pa., in an eight-round super middleweight fight. C.J. Ross scored it 80-72, while Robert Hoyle and Dick Houck had it 79-73.
– Bryan Armen Graham