Better work from Saunders in the fifth as he connects with a number of left hands, including a stiff jab that snapped Álvarez’s head back. Best punch he’s landed tonight. Saunders has been more active and more accurate in this frame. Landed 11 punches compared to six for Álvarez, according to Compubox’s punch statistics.
Álvarez stops Saunders in his tracks with a heat-seeking uppercut that sends the crowd to its feet. Saunders simply not throwing enough punches and failing to do anything to stem Álvarez relentless body attack. Álvarez is the busier and more effective fighter.
More of the same in the third round. Saunders is scoring with the jab but he’s certianly not hurting Álvarez was it. Also, his failure to counterpunch means Álvarez can tee off on the body with no fear of reprisal. Canelo landing far more shots. He’s stalking Saunders. Cracks Saunders with a crunching uppercut. Another easy round.
Canelo’s focus on the body is laid bare in Compubox’s punch statistics, which show he landed 18 body shots in the second round against Saunders who doesn’t seem particularly interested in getting out of the way. Canelo is lining up that right hand and picking away. He’s in total command and the crowd is really picking up accordingly.
And we’re off! A cagey start as each fighter measures up the other in the center of the ring, Canelo’s orthodox stance mirroring Saunders’s southpaw. Saunders lands a right jab but Canelo comes back with an uppercut. A couple of thudding body shots by Canelo. Álvarez is very focused on the body in the early going and he’s landing the harder punches. Saunders’ punches have found the target but there’s really not much on them at all. Easy round to score.
Now it’s Canelo’s turn. The biggest star in boxing today enters to México Lindo y Querido by Vicente Fernández, his traditional walk-out song, this time played by a full ranchero band fronted by Pepe Aguilar and flanked by traditional Mexican dancers. His faithful supporters sing along as the arena is bathed in green and red light. What an entrance.
Saunders has been standing in the right for while a while by the time Canelo finally climbs through the ropes. Michael Buffer is going through the introductions now and we should be under way momentarily, picking it up with round-by-round coverage from here.
11.18pm EDT 23:18
It’s time for the fighter entrances! Billy Joe Saunders has emerged from the tunnel and is making the long walk to the ring to the strains of Spartan Soldier by Tommy Lee Sparta. A very hostile reception from the mostly Canelo fans in the building, but that was to be expected. Saunders looks very loose, very cool. This doesn’t seem like an act: he thinks he’s going to win.
10.56pm EDT 22:56
Elwin Soto has defended his WBO junior flyweight title for the third time with a ninth-round TKO of Katsunari Takayama. A bit of a strange, premature stoppage by referee Laurence Cole: not only was Takayama not hurt, but he seemed to moving forward and throwing punches when Cole intervened. Nevertheless, it’s in the books and the final countdown to the main event is on.