Sunday, June 16, 2024

Saúl ‘Canelo’ Álvarez defends title vs John Ryder in Guadalajara

A raucous group of 50,000 fans in Guadalajara saw hometown hero Saúl “Canelo” Álvarez take his 59th win as a professional boxer against Britain’s John Ryder on Saturday.

The world-famous tapatío bruiser successfully defended his titles and remains the only unified super-middleweight champion in the history of the sport. 

Canelo walks into the ring wearing a crown
Publicity for the fight proclaimed “The King is coming home” as Álvarez returned to fight in his native Guadalajara for the first time in 12 years. (Saúl Álvarez/Twitter)

A unified champion is a competitor who holds more than two championship titles from different boxing organizations in the same weight class. Álvarez holds all 4 titles in his division.

Promotion posters for the fight had declared, “The king is coming home,” and Álvarez — who weighed in on Cinco de Mayo for the bout at Guadalajara’s Degollado Theater accompanied by live mariachi music — did not disappoint, demonstrating why he is regarded as an all-time great of the middleweight division.

A near-capacity Akron Stadium saw a masterful Álvarez take a unanimous points win, 12 years after his last hometown bout. Two judges scored the fight 118–109 points to Álvarez, with the third favoring the Mexican more heavily at 120–107.

Ryder, from London, England, was faced by jeers as he walked toward the ring, in stark contrast to the explosion of adulation that greeted local favorite Álvarez. While Ryder launched a late comeback after falling in the fifth round, he failed to make enough of an impact to sway the judges once the fight went the distance.  

John Ryder in the ring
Defeat to Álvarez sees Ryder, who has enjoyed a long career in boxing, considering his options – including retirement from the sport. (Matchroom Sports/Twitter)

The victory —  Álvarez’s first of 2023 — marked redemption from the loss to Russian light heavyweight champion Dmitry Bivol almost exactly one year before. 

“I’m happy with the fight. I won, and I’m happy people had a great fight,” Álvarez said after his victory was confirmed in an interview with television outlet DAZN. “He’s a strong fighter. I knew that; I’m not surprised about it.”

Victory for the defeated Englishman likely would have seen him extend his career, but the 34 year-old now faces questions about a potential retirement, after a second failed title fight. While his promoter, boxing stalwart Eddie Hearn, discussed the possibility of an upcoming U.S. fight, defeat to Álvarez may mark the end of his 13-year career in the sport.

With reporting by Forbes and BBC Sport

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