On Mexican Independence Weekend, Canelo Alvarez (48-1-1, 34 KOs) was crowned the new WBO Junior Middleweight World Champion in front of a record breaking crowd of 51,240 roaring fans at the home of the Dallas Cowboys, AT&T Stadium in Arlington, TX.
Canelo established himself as a ticket seller king breaking AT&T Stadium’s previous record of 50,994 for a boxing event established by Manny Pacquioa vs. Joshua Clottey in 2010.
The show started off with a bang as pyrotechnic displays were incorporated into the fighters’ ring walks in celebration of the festive Mexican holiday. At the start of the fight, bothCanelo Alvarez (48-1-1, 34 KOs) of Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico and Liam “Beefy” Smith (23-1-1, 13 KOs) of Liverpool, England came out aggressively at each other in an exciting battle of power and wits. As the fight progressed, both fighters went back and forth exchanging combinations of face and body shots. In the beginning of the seventh round, Canelo dropped Smith with an overhand right to the head first time in the Brit’s career. In the eighth round, Liam was knocked down again by a body shot and finally, at 2:28 in the ninth round, Canelo secured himself another world title as he landed straight power hit to Smith’s liver, immobilizing the fighter.
“First of all, I want to say I told you I was going to give a great fight and get the championship and here it is,” said Canelo Alvarez. “I started going after him, but in the second round I hurt my hand. I hurt my right hand and had to use the left more often. There was some disparity but that’s what happened. I felt he was very strong in the beginning so I had to put the body work and felt he would dwindle, that’s how I did my job. I give big punches with my body shots, and I enjoyed it very much. I fear no man. I am the best fighter in this sport. About a month ago, we offered “GGG” three times as much to make the fight and we’re ready for him, but he doesn’t want to accept. As I said, we are a team and I fear no one. I fight the best and I want to fight the best, I am the best at this sport and Viva Mexico!”
“Liam Smith was a resilient fighter, he was tough, has a lot of heart,” continued Canelo Alvarez. “He thinks before he attacks, I could tell in the way he blocked in the way he approached me. The body shot, was what I focused on, making sure I worked his body down, and that is what secured the victory today.”
“If I would have waited a little longer and gotten more experience I would have been able to fight a guy like [Canelo] better,” said Liam Smith. “I am very disappointed. Canelo was too good today, I needed better timing, my timing was off tonight. I was smaller and had no time to make him even think twice. We caught him with body shots well, and he handled his own.”
As the co-main event Philly’s “King” Gabriel Rosado (23-10, 13 KOs) battled Willie “El Mongoose” Monroe, Jr. (21-2, 6 KOs), of Rochester, NY in a 12-round match for the vacant WBO Intercontinental Middleweight. Starting out, the fighters tested each other as they kept their distance by using jabs and counterpunches. As the rounds progressed, the fighter’s aggression grew, with Rosado pushing Monroe after the bell for the ninth round. In the eleventh round, Rosado landed a body shot to Monroe while also suffering an accidental headbutt. In the end, the judges determined “El Mongoose” the champion of this fight by unanimous decision with scores of 112-116, 110-118, 111-117.
“I have no problem with Rosado, I have no personal problems with anyone, it’s business,” said Willie Monroe, Jr. “I just want to thank God for this twenty first victory. I want to thank HBO for the opportunity, hopefully I performed and they want to bring me back. I also want to thank Banner Promotions, my team and my grandfather who passed away in 2013. He raised me and this has been a dream in the making for 29 years and it’s still going.”
“I thought I was going to be strong tonight, but I felt tight,” said Gabriel Rosado. “It was a tough fight, I think I should have used my jab more. I mean, he was a decent fighter.”
Fan favorite and former Olympian Joseph “Jojo” Diaz, Jr. (22-0, 13 KOs)of South El Monte, Calif. put his NABF Featherweight Title on the line as he faced Blythe, Calif.’s Andrew “El Chango” Cancio (17-4-2, 13 KOs)in an entertaining scheduled 10-round scrap. In the first rounds, both fighters tested one another, as each exchanged blocks and blows in hopes of winning the fight. By round five, Diaz, Jr. continued to do work defending himself and landing devastating punches to Cancio. By 2:27 of the ninth round, Cancio’s corner stopped the fight, giving Diaz, Jr. a technical knockout victory to retain his title.
“This is a great victory, it will open up so many doors for me moving forward,” said Joseph Diaz, Jr. “I felt very comfortable today, I was the better puncher, I was faster and was able to cut the ring more efficiently. I knew that Cancio was going to be a strong guy, I knew he was going to be tough and try to push me around, so I had to be the better fighter tonight. I was able to display my defense and my power.”
Mexicali’s Diego De La Hoya (16-0, 9 KOs) came out in full force in his WBC Youth Super Bantamweight title defense against Luis “Orlandito” Orlando Del Valle (22-3, 16 KOs) of Baymon, Puerto Rico as the HBO Pay-Per-View telecast opener on Mexican Independence Day weekend. As a classic Mexico vs. Puerto Rico boxing match rivalry, there wasn’t a single dull moment in the De La Hoya vs. Del Valle matchup as both fighters were relentless in the ring. In round six, after deflecting punches, Del Valle stumbled back in the ring with De La Hoya continuing to go after him. In the end, De La Hoya’s aggression made all the difference as the judges announced a unanimous decision victory for Diego De La Hoya.
“We knew this fight was going to be difficult we knew we were going up against an opponent who had a flood of experience,” said Diego De La Hoya. “There were moments where the fight was complicated, but I was able to hurt him consistently with shots to the head. My most effective shot was the uppercut, and once I found that out, I consistently used it. I’m glad for the victory to bring this fight for all the Mexican fans tonight in front of such a venue has been a dream come true for me.”
“I know how I performed in the ring. I trained hard, brought my skills to the ring, and left it all there,” said Orlando Del Valle. “He was the better fighter, and that’s that. There are no excuses on my part. I wish Diego the best.”
The pride of Brooklyn, NY, Sadam “World Kid” Ali (23-1, 13 KOs) put his boxing talents on full display when he faced Mexican fighter Saul Corral (21-8, 12 KOs) of Agua Prieta, Sonora for a welterweight war. In round four, Ali effectively knocked down Saul Corral showing off his strong ability to throw effect combinations. By round eight, both fighters began to brawl in going the distance with the judges scoring the fight 99-98, 99-91, 99-90 in favor of Ali.
“The plan was to get the knock out, but that didn’t happen with this victory,” said Sadam Ali. “My opponent definitely had a Mexican style to him, and I was not expecting the reach he had with his arms. I knew I hurt him in the exchange of blows in the fourth round, and other times throughout the fight. This is still the win I needed and worked hard for, and I know the next fight I am in will demonstrate my will power.”
Golden Boy Promotions fighter, Vergil Ortiz (2-0, 2 KOs) scored a crushing knockout over opponent Ernesto Hernandez (1-4, 1 KO) of El Paso, TX. From the moment Ortiz stepped on the mat, he asserted his dominance in the fight by quickly landing a double jab and straight right punch to successfully gain the first-round knockout.
“I feel motivated with this win. Never in my dreams did I expect to be on such a stage so early in my career,” said Ortiz. “In the ring, I knew my opponent was hungry for redemption early because he kept trying to throw some overhand punches. But I kept tight and when I landed my double jab and straight right punch combination, I had a feeling that he wasn’t going to get back up. I am glad I have such a solid start to my career, and I’m looking forward to more massive fights.”
Representing San Antonio, TX, Hector “El Finito” Tanajara, Jr. (7-0, 5 KOs) fought Roy Garcia (3-20-1, 2 KOs) of Alice, TX in a lightweight fight going all four rounds. Tanajara showed his strength and skill in the ring with his ability to demonstrate great stamina and speed. As the fight went to the score cards, all three judges awarded “El Finito” the unanimous decision victory with a score of 40-36.
“It’s an amazing feeling being able to fight in my home state – I could hear my family members cheering from the stands, and it’s a blessing that they were able to come out to my first Texas performance,” said Hector Tanajara, Jr. “I honestly thought I was going to be able to get the knock out, but my opponent wanted to brawl and he had a resistance in the ring that I didn’t expect. In the end, I got my victory, and back to the gym we go to begin training for the next one.”
Another Texas native, Joshua “El Profesor” Franco (7-0, 4 KOs) of San Antonio, schooled Brian Bazan of Mexico City (9-3, 6 KOs) in a scheduled six-round bantamweight bout. Starting from the first round, Bazan put the pressure on Franco with shots to Franco’s head. By the second and third rounds, Franco began to come on strong with savage uppercuts. He used that punch to knock Bazan down twice in the third round and to floor Bazan a final time in the fourth round and secure the victory via knockout.
“I feel amazing getting the knock out in front of all my fans,” said Joshua Franco. “This was only a taste of the things to come – my promoter wanted me to get into the ring with a fighter that would give me a tough time, and I think my performance tonight showed that I can take on any opponent. I knew the first time he fell that it would only take a couple of shots until I could get the victory via knockout.”
Proud Brooklyn, New York native Zachary “Zungry” Ochoa (16-0, 7 KOs) defeatedDaniel “Danny” Montoya (11-5, 8 KOs)by way of unanimous decision in an eight-round super lightweight fight. Known for his swiftness in the ring, Ochoa successfully fended off Montoya’s flurries while also landing multiple body shots to his opponent. Both fighters fought resiliently until the very end, but ultimately “Zungry’s” power punches and speed provided the difference.
“It felt good to go all eight-rounds.” said Zachary Ochoa. “It’s a good experience for me, to make sure that all my training is working. He was a tough guy, resilient, but I was in control the whole time. I knew my body shots were hurting him and I continued doing that to break him down. I knew going in it was going to be a tough fight, but we trained exactly for this, and we are ready to take on the next talented fighter.”
Hailing from Tlaquepaque, Jalisco, Mexico and trained by famed trainers Jose “Chepo” Reynoso and Eddy Reynoso, Alexis Salazar (8-3, 3 KOs) earned a unanimous decision in the second bout of the evening over Dallas’ Texas Larry Smith (10-29-1, 6 KOs). Salazar started aggressively, focusing on hard shots to the body, then following up to the head. Smith, however, demonstrated his experience, surviving Salazar’s assault and utilizing crafty veteran techniques to make it to the end of the scheduled six-round super welterweight fight.
“I felt good throughout the fight. I feel it was my technique that won this fight for me,” Alexis Salazar said. “My opponent was a tricky guy to fight and I thought it would be an easier night for me because of his loss streak on his record, but he made me work and I think it was a good experience.”
Kicking off the mega card, in the first bout London, England’s Anthony Yarde (8-0, 7 KOs) got straight down to business by taking out opponent Rayford Johnson (11-22, 5 KOs) of Longview, TX in the first round by way of technical knockout in this cruiserweight fight. Using a right hook, Yarde showed off his power and strength in the ring.
“Obviously I’m happy to get the win, but I was trying to carry him a bit. I wanted more time in the ring, I wanted to get some rounds in and take in more of this experience in this stadium. That is why I didn’t follow up after I hit him with my left. But overall I got the win so I’m content with that.”
HBO will repay the fight Saturday, September 24th at 10:05 p.m (ET/PT)