Canelo Alvarez of Guadalajara (59-2-2, 39 KOs) delivered a victory, if not a thriller, defeating challenger John Ryder of London, England (32-6, 18 KOs) by decision. He fought for the first time since 2012 in his hometown, and for the first time with his grandmother in attendance. Scores were 120-107 and 118-109 X 2.
With the decision, Alvarez retains his unified and undisputed super middleweight titles.
“It's a historic moment for me. I'm blessed to be here with my people,” said Alvarez after the fight. They support me from the beginning. I'm glad to be here. And I'm very thankful.”
Alvarez said he wasn’t surprised by Ryder’s performance. “He's a very strong fighter, man. But I know that. I'm in this position (for) a long time. And I know, and I respect my opponent because I know they're coming for everything.”
Championship Quality Spectacle
— DAZN Boxing (@DAZNBoxing) May 7, 2023
The opening staging alone was worth the ticket price for the more than 50,000 fans at Akron Stadium. Fans got light shows, fireworks, drill teams with flags, and ten different 15-person mariachi bands working in unison to welcome Alvarez into the ring playing the Vicente Fernandez song ‘Me Dicen El Tapatio.”
It was staging last seen at a Super Bowl – or maybe Wrestlemania.
Wearing a gold crown, Alvarez took his time coming to the ring. You can forgive the man for living it up in his return after rising from the youngest of seven brothers to pursue boxing, turning pro at age 15, and eventually earning enough to make his entire family comfortable for generations to come.
Alvarez Tests Ryder With Pressure, Power
Despite the wide scorecards, the rest of the fight suffered by comparison, but Alvarez wins, doing what he came to do, and that’s leave with a victory.
All fighters are alone in the ring, but Ryder was more isolated than most. Ryder came into the fight confidently and showed no fear of being in the ring with Alvarez. He is a good-sized super middleweight and stood right in front of the champion, looking for opportunities while exercising some caution, counterpunching when Alvarez fired off his shots.
The Mexican had limited success going to the body. No single shot hurt Ryder, but these punches add up.
In the second round, Canelo drew blood with a sharp straight right landing on Ryder’s nose, sending blood down his face from the nose and mouth. It was a red cape in front of a bull.
Alvarez attacked, giving the crowd what it hoped for. The right hand was doing major damage to the southpaw from London, and he seemed unable to find any way to stop it.
When Alvarez landed a hard left hook to Ryder’s body in round four, the end of the bout seemed sight. Ryder struggled to breathe despite his corner’s efforts to minimize the effects of the bloody nose. Add the high altitude air at 5,000 feet elevation in Guadalajara, and Ryder was gasping.
But he kept coming, and this turned out to be the essential narrative in the fight – Ryder’s heart, not Ryder’s beatdown.
Alvarez caught Ryder with a wicked check right hook off a lead jab to the chin in the fifth round, buckling Ryder’s knees to score the fight’s only knockdown. At this point, no one would have faulted Ryder for not getting up. He looked at his corner and rose to his feet.
Canelo said of the knockdown, “Yeah, I think I got him. But you know, he put the head in front, the elbows, and I take care a little bit in that. But I'm happy with the fight. I'm happy with the fight. I work, and I'm happy that people have a great fight.”
The right hand wobbled Ryder again halfway through the sixth round. The British fighter was seriously compromised, fighting with the check engine light blinking.
Ryder bit down and stood fast as Alvarez fired off snapping punches. Credit to Ryder for not calling it a night and carrying on, earning respect round after round.
Ryder offered some offense, but his legs were not solid underneath him, and his punches couldn’t land where he aimed them with enough authority to hurt Alvarez.
As the eighth round got underway, it was time for Ryder’s corner to consider pulling him out of the fight. Referee Michael Griffin stayed close but gave the fighters room to work without intervention. He was a nonfactor in the fight, a compliment to any referee in a high-stakes bout.
Canelo finally started showing some fatigue of his own as Ryder kept coming. Would the champion end up being content to win by decision? Ryder said before the fight, he believed Canelo would tire, and he could capitalize on this in the last third of the fight.
Surprisingly, Ryder got a slight chance. He started the ninth round as strong as any in the fight. The crowd finally became a factor, urging Alvarez forward. Another hard right hand rocked Ryder, but he kept coming. Ryder could see referee Michael Griffin hovering, and he would not give Griffin any excuse to stop the fight.
By this point, Ryder’s toughness was not in question.
In rounds ten through 12, Alvarez pressed to create a knockout opportunity. But he didn’t need it to win the fight like Ryder did. Ryder’s corner saw the champion fading and kept urging their man to give it his best shot. He had his best rounds of the fight right up to the closing bell.
Canelo Wins But Moral Victory Earns Ryder Respect
It was a moral victory for Ryder and a demonstration of incredible courage and determination. No one will ever sell him short again. He did what countrymen Callum Smith, Liam Smith, Billy Joe Saunders, Rocky Fielding, and Amir Khan couldn’t do in lasting 12 full rounds.
Matchroom Boxing promoter Eddie Hearn said, “What (Ryder) realized is he’s a world-class fighter. He’s just not as good as Canelo Alvarez. It was a fantastic effort, full of bravery. John Ryder proved himself.”
Alvarez landed 179 of 459 punches thrown (32%), against 80 of 457 punches thrown for Ryder, less than half the connect output (17.5%). Alvarez landed 117 power punches to just 69 for Ryder, and outlanded him in every round of the fight.
Canelo admitted he felt pressure to win in front of his hometown fans. “I feel different because it's a lot of responsibility. With my people, like I say, was a big moment. That's very special for me. A very special moment. I feel different, but I'm glad to be here.”
The fight was also a test for Alvarez’s repaired left hand. He underwent surgery to repair his wrist in October after his bout with Gennadiy Golovkin. Asked how it felt, Alvarez reported it felt good, “Not in the beginning, I needed a couple rounds, three rounds to start punching and then knowing I'm good with the hand. Now I know,” he said.
Dmitry Bivol Or Bust, Says Canelo
Canelo Alvarez did not hedge or waver when asked about his next opponent.
“You know, everybody knows we want (Dmitry) Bivol, the rematch with Bivol. If the fight with Bivol isn't happening. Then we'll see. I'm able to fight everybody.” Alvarez also insisted the fight must take place in the light heavyweight division. “Same rules, same terms. Same everything. Because I just want it in that way.”
Hearn said it’s clear to him Alvarez only wants the Bivol rematch on those terms. “He believes he’ll only get credit on those terms, and I agree. He’s desperate for revenge. He’s the ultimate competitor. It was a solid victory tonight, but (against Bivol) he’ll be the challenger,” said Hearn.
“This is the biggest fight by a mile for Dmitry Bivol. I hope he accepts the challenge. What other fight in the world are you going to see Canelo as an underdog, and a big underdog? He lost, and it’s eating him up every day. We need to make it happen,” declared Hearn.
READ MORE: Undercard Results From Guadalajara