Saul “Canelo” Alvarez has finally come back home.
Alvarez, a Guadalajara, Mexico, native, defeated John Ryder via unanimous decision on Saturday at Estadio Akron in Zapopan, Mexico, to defend his super-middleweight crown.
Flanked by over 100 mariachi band members, fireworks and a sea of 51,000 plus chanting his name, Canelo couldn’t help but smile on his way to the ring. Estadio Akron sits just nearly 12 miles from Alvarez’s hometown of Guadalajara, and it’s his first time fighting in Mexico since 2011.
“It’s a historic moment for me,” Alvarez said in the post fight interview. “I’m blessed to be here with my people, like I said, who support me from the beginning.”
Alvarez, 32, and Ryder, 34, matchup nearly identical in the height and weight category, but Ryder owns a two-inch reach advantage over Alvarez. After having surgery on his left hand late last year, Alvarez proved it was back to form by dealing jabs and left hooks through the fight. Alvarez pressured Ryder early on by walking him down and putting pressure on him.
By Round 3, Alvarez had been peppering Ryder with shots to the face that caused him to begin bleeding from the nose. In Round 5, Alvarez delivered a crisp one-two combination that sat Ryder down against the ropes. Alvarez promised fans a knockout, but Ryder answered the count and made it to a decision. Alvarez, despite a late fade in output and late rally from Ryder, outlanded Ryder 179 to 80, with 117 of those being power punches.
“He’s a very strong fighter,” Alvarez said. “I’ve been in this position a long time. I respect my opponents, because I know they are coming for everything.”
Alvarez (59-2-2) is now ready to avenge only his second loss in his professional career.
Dmitry Bivol handed Alvarez a loss last May via unanimous decision in the 175-pound light heavyweight title fight. Alvarez is targeting his next fight with Bivol to be in September, as he traditionally fights near Cinco De May and Mexican-Independence Day weekend.
“Everybody knows we want Bivol,” Alvarez said.