Five Times Canelo Alvarez Flashed Frightening Power

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A look back at some of Canelo's greatest performances ahead of his unprecedented battle versus Undisputed Junior Middleweight World Champion Jermell Charlo Saturday, September 30, at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, live on Pay-Per-View.

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The Moment Canelo Alvarez Became the Undisputed Super Middleweight King

Undisputed Super Middleweight World Champion and future Hall of Famer Saul “Canelo” Alvarez has recorded 39 knockouts in his remarkable 18-year career, many against prominent opponents.

Some were of the one-punch variety but most were akin to chopping down a tree, the product of incessant, merciless pounding to the head and body. And so many of them are etched in our collective memory, a tribute to Alvarez’s ability to lift adoring spectators out of their seats fight after fight after fight.

But which of his stoppages stand out most?

Here is a look at five memorable knockouts from the four-division world champion ahead of his mega-fight versus Undisputed Junior Middleweight Champion Jermell Charlo Saturday, September 30 from T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, live on Pay-Per-View (8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT)


Result: KO 3
Date: May 9, 2015
Location: Minute Maid Park, Houston
Division: Middleweight (155-pound catchweight)
At stake: No major titles
Background: Alvarez had already established himself as a star at 24 years old by beating the likes of Shane Mosely, Austin Trout and Erislandy Lara – as well as losing a decision to Floyd Mayweather – when he met the crude, but powerful Kirkland in the Texan’s home state. Alvarez’s performance might’ve been the most dramatic of his career in terms of sheer violence. The hyperaggressive Kirkland pounced on Alvarez at the opening bell but his tactics quickly backfired, as a sharp right hand mid-way through round one put him on his seat. He somehow survived the remaining minute-plus and a difficult round two, in which he had some positive moments. 

Then Alvarez dropped the hammer. 

He started to land heavy shots midway through the third, putting Kirkland down with a right uppercut. The wounded underdog got up but Alvarez walked him into the ropes, measured his distance and unloaded a right to the chin that knocked Kirkland down once more and rendered him unconscious as 30,000-plus at Minute Maid Park went wild. Fight over. Alvarez has recorded many more-important victories but few were as breathtaking as this one.


Result: KO 6
Date: May 7, 2016
Location: T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas
Division: Middleweight (155-pound catchweight)
At stake: WBC middleweight title
Background: Alvarez was making the first defense of his middleweight title against a talented, but naturally smaller man. The result was predictable. Still, those who witnessed the Englishman’s instantaneous demise will never forget it. Khan, an excellent technician with unusually quick hands, boxed well for five-plus rounds. He was actually leading on one of the three official cards going into round six of what had been a competitive fight. However, Alvarez gradually, methodically closed the distance on his nimble opponent and landed more and more eye-catching blows as the fight progressed. 

Then came arguably the biggest shot of Alvarez’s career. About 30 seconds remained in round six when Alvarez feinted with his left and then landed a straight right direct from hell, which knocked Khan unconscious before he hit the canvas and sent wide-eyed spectators – the vast majority of whom were there to support Alvarez – into a tizzy. Khan lay prone on his back for several minutes before he was helped to his feet and he was able to recover, further evidence of Alvarez’s ability to destroy even the most-capable foes within 12 three-minute rounds. Fans look back at that stoppage as one of the most brutal by any fighter in recent years.


Result: KO 11
Date: Nov. 2, 2019
Location: MGM Grand, Las Vegas
Division: Light heavyweight
At stake: Kovalev’s WBO title
Background: The magnitude of the fight and the fact it was competitive until the end made this knockout particularly dramatic. Alvarez made a bold move by moving up in weight to challenge the respected champion from Russia at 175 pounds. And the decision was in danger of backfiring going into the 11th round. Alvarez and Kovalev were locked in a close, back-and-forth battle for 10-plus rounds, with Alvarez unable to land that one big punch that would allow him to seize firm control. Two judges had Alvarez leading 96-94 (six rounds to hour) while the third had it 95-95. Kovalev would’ve retained his belt had he won the final two rounds. 

Of course, Alvarez made sure that didn’t happen. He was applying heavy pressure in the final minute of round 11 when he connected on a left hook that wobbled the bigger man and followed with a straight right that knocked him to his knees and into the ropes. Referee Russell Mora knew immediately that Kovalev couldn’t continue and stopped the fight, giving Alvarez one of the most-significant victories of his career and fans another thrilling stoppage. 

Billy Joe Saunders

Result: TKO 8
Date: May 8, 2021
Location: AT&T Stadium, Dallas
Division: Super middleweight
At stake: Alvarez’s WBA, WBC and Saunders’ WBO titles
Background: Alvarez recently said on The PBC Podcast that no opponent irritated him more than the trash-talking Saunders leading up to the fight, which provided extra incentive to inflict pain on his opponent. And the Mexican star was satisfied in the end, as were the 73,126 that filled the Dallas Cowboys’ home stadium on an unforgettable night. Alvarez led on all three cards after seven rounds because he landed the harder shots but Saunders, a slick southpaw from England, used his impressive jab, timely combinations and quick feet to remain competitive almost until the end. 

Then, in round eight, Alvarez knew he had his man where he wanted him. He landed a hard right mid-way through the round, which we learned later had broken Saunders’ right eye socket. Alvarez followed moments later with a left to the body, after which he gestured to the crowd as if to say, “Now’s the time to get excited.” It was. He pummeled Saunders almost at will the rest of the round, which he somehow survived in spite of his injury. But he couldn’t go on. Saunders quit on his stool, giving Alvarez three of the four major 168-pound titles and enhancing his already sterling legacy.

Caleb Plant

Result: TKO 11
Date: Nov. 6, 2021
Location: MGM Grand, Las Vegas
Division: Super middleweight
At stake: Alvarez’s WBA, WBC, WBO and Plant’s IBF title
Background: Alvarez’s most-recent knockout was among his most compelling. His goal beginning in 2020 was to become the undisputed 168-pound champion. He easily outpointed Callum Smith to win the WBA and WBC belts, stopped Billy Joe Saunders to add the WBO version and then set his sights on one of the best, most-athletic boxers in the division, Caleb Plant, who happened to hold the final piece (IBF) of the puzzle. Plant lived up to his reputation, boxing well and keeping pace with Alvarez in terms of punch output. The Tennessean was behind on all three cards after 10 rounds but he was still in the fight with two rounds to go, which was a surprise to many. 

However, Alvarez ultimately did what we’ve come to expect from him, maintain pressure, break down his opponent and either stop him or win a clear decision. Plant’s fate was the former. A left hook to the chin about 30 seconds into Round 11 was the beginning of the end for him. Alvarez immediately followed with a right uppercut and another left, which hurt Plant and forced him to touch the case with both gloves. Plant was able to continue but Alvarez smelled blood. He delivered a vicious volley of punches that sent his helpless opponent to the canvas again. This time he couldn’t go on. Canelo had one more brutal stoppage and his undisputed championship.

For a closer look at Saul "Canelo" Alvarez, check out his fighter page. 

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