ARLINGTON, Texas -- Canelo Alvarez could feel it coming.
In the eighth round, the Mexican champion egged on a record-breaking crowd as he pelted Billy Joe Saunders in their super middleweight unification fight.
Alvarez inflicted enough damage to enhance his legacy. Alvarez won after the fight was waved off between the eighth and ninth rounds. Saunders' right eye had swollen shut, and the bout was called off with Saunders still on the stool.
With Saturday's victory, Alvarez holds three of the four belts in the 168-pound division. A crowd of 73,126 was announced at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, breaking the record of the largest indoor attendance for a boxing event. The previous record was 63,350 for the Muhammad Ali-Leon Spinks rematch in 1978.
Soto defends world title against a very game Takayama
The way defending WBO light flyweight champion Elwin Soto was loading up and landing punches against Katsunari Takayama, the fight was primed for a stoppage.
Eventually, Takayama's corner had seen enough. Referee Lawrence Cole waved his arms over the Japanese fighter with 16 seconds in the last round, as Soto successfully retained his belt in the final bout of the Canelo Alvarez-Billy Joe Saunders undercard on Saturday night at AT&T Stadium, which serves as home for the NFL's Dallas Cowboys.
From the opening bell, Soto (19-1, 13 KOs), of San Felipe, Baja California, Mexico, found success with his power punches. In the ring, the Mexican champion looked like the much bigger fighter over Takayama, who had been out of boxing for four years until he returned in December.
In the middle rounds, Takayama (32-9, 12 KOs), from Osaka, Japan, had some success with a few hooks, as he kept circling Soto and keeping his distance. Soto opted to pick his shots and try to land power hooks of his own against the 37-year-old fighter.
In the sixth round, Soto hit Takayama with an uppercut that drew a cheer from the crowd that was so loud it was impossible to hear the bell a few rows away from the canvas.
As the fight continued, Takayama produced a significant volume of punches; according to CompuBox, he threw at least 100 in six out of nine rounds, including Round 9, when he landed a fight-high 28.
Cissokho outpoints Conway in split decision win
Souleymane Cissokho seemed to be cruising to a victory in a boring fight, until Kieron Conway made things interesting.
In the ninth round, Conway (16-2-1, 3 KOs), of Northampton, England, knocked Cissokho down with a left uppercut that seemed to hurt Cissokho. But it wasn't enough, as Cissokho won via split decision, 96-93, 92-97 and 95-94.
Either way, it was still a pretty boring fight, for the most part. The crowd inside AT&T Stadium didn't get interested until the end, when Conway decided to throw more power shots as he was seemingly down big on the scorecards. But it was far too little, too late, as Cissokho (13-0, 8 KOs), of Bagnolet, France, continued his undefeated pro career.
Sanchez defeats Aguilera in controversial ending
The Frank Sanchez-Nagy Aguilera fight showed why boxing needed its fans back.
In the sixth round, Sanchez missed on a right hook that grazed the back of Aguilera's neck. Aguilera thought it was an illegal punch and immediately clutched his neck, dropped to his knees and rolled around on the canvas.
Earlier in the fight, Sanchez clipped Aguilera with a right hook and Aguilera also had complained about an illegal blow in that moment. The referee didn't think so, and Sanchez, the heavyweight from Cuba, hit him with a straight right hand for good measure.
The glancing blow in the sixth was apparently too much for Aguilera, who decided he couldn't continue. The fans at AT&T Stadium rightfully thought Aguilera was looking for a way out against the undefeated Sanchez (18-0, 13 KOs).
Every time the stadium's mammoth big screen showed Aguilera (21-11, 14 KOs), they booed with a passion boxing fans haven't seen at a fight since before the COVID-19 pandemic. When Sanchez was on the screen, the crowd roared, with the cheers hitting a crescendo when Sanchez was declared the winner, with all the judges scoring the fight 60-54 for Sanchez.
Castro stops Castillo, stays unbeaten
The most trouble Marc Castro had all night was the brief struggle he had as he jumped on the turnbuckle in the corner to celebrate his victory over Irving Macias Castillo.
Castro bloodied Castillo, who is from Mexico, and eventually forced the referee to stop the fight in the final minute of the fourth round. It's a credit to Castillo (8-2, 5 KOs) that he lasted so long against Castro, who has been one of the prospects highlighted most by DAZN and Team Canelo since he turned pro.
Castro (3-0, 3 KOs) had Castillo gushing red from his nose in the first round after a barrage of straight shots. Then the Fresno, California-based fighter used an array of hooks to batter Castillo. What Castillo lacked for in head movement, he made up for with heart. However, referee Anthony Moss wisely spared Castillo from any further punishment as Castro, blood speckled across his chest, earned the stoppage win.
Davis dominates Meza for one-sided win
Rising prospect Keyshawn Davis didn't have many missteps in a dominant victory over Jose Antonio Meza. Davis (3-0, 2 KOs) hurt Meza early and often in picking up a 60-54 win on all three scorecards.
Davis, the younger brother of Kelvin Davis, showed why he is considered one of boxing's rising prospects. He wasn't shy about displaying his quick hands or his sense of bravado. After Meza hit the canvas in what was ruled a slip, Davis clapped his gloves over Meza (7-5, 2 KO) while he was still down.
Davis landed a particularly solid right hand at the end of the fourth round that earned some boos from the predominantly pro-Mexico crowd. (Meza hails from the Mexican state of Durango.) Even though Davis didn't earn an official knockdown and couldn't get a knockout, it was an overall solid performance.
Gomez Duran stops Wilson in Round 2
Those watching the Canelo-Saunders undercard didn't have long to wait for the first knockout of the night. Christian Gomez Duran picked up a second-round TKO win over San Antonio's Xavier Wilson in the second fight on the card.
Gomez Duran (19-2-1, 17 KOs) caught Wilson on the ropes and unleashed a big left hook that immediately dropped Wilson. Wilson got to his feet for the count, but after referee Rosario Solis evaluated the hurt fighter, Solis waived off the fight.
Wilson (11-3-1, 1 KO) was in complete disbelief. The welterweight pleaded with Solis then walked across the canvas with his gloves gripping his face while he came to terms with the outcome. Wilson's corner, however, had no qualms with the stoppage.
Davis survives knockdown to defeat Marsalek
Kelvin Davis avoided a pretty significant upset with a narrow unanimous decision over Jan Marsalek. Davis (2-0, 1 KO) was knocked down in the last minute of the four-round bout. Marsalek caught Davis, who fights out of Norfolk, Virginia, with a big right hook that put him on the canvas. Davis' straight punches won him the first three rounds, which kept him undefeated as he squeaked out the victory.
Marsalek produced the biggest moment of the super lightweight bout with brilliant boxing. Right before the knockdown, the shorter fighter from the Czech Republic kept winging left hooks that Davis dodged. Marsalek's decision to unleash the right nearly won him the fight. But by the time Davis got off the deck, there wasn't enough time for Marsalek to truly pounce on Davis, who was still hurt.