In a much-hyped battle between two of boxing’s reigning undisputed world champions at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, the Mexican superstar totally dominated from the outset and dropped his overmatched opponent in round seven en route to a straightforward unanimous decision win.
It was a perfect riposte from Canelo to growing critics who believed that his significant powers were finally waning after he was taken the distance despite dominant displays in back-to-back bouts against faded rival Gennady Golovkin and durable Brit John Ryder that followed his shock loss to WBA light-heavyweight champion Dmitry Bivol last May.
While he will no doubt be frustrated not to have secured a knockout despite his best efforts, the 33-year-old will nevertheless reflect upon a statement display in which he piled on pressure and made his considerable power felt from the outset, reaffirming his enduring status among the elite.
Meanwhile, it was only the second time in his 38-fight professional career that Charlo had ever been sent to the canvas, wisely opting to take a knee and the referee’s eight count after being smashed with a huge overhand right on an evening of struggle and toil.
It was symbolic of the struggles that he faced throughout a thoroughly one-sided contest, the undisputed light-middleweight king unable to bridge the sizable power gap between the 154-pound division and 168 after bravely jumping up two weights for what is clearly still one of the most difficult challenges that the sport has to offer.
Charlo - who embraced WBC middleweight champion Jermall Charlo before the fight after a recent rift between the identical twin brothers - admitted the weight jump was too much in an honest post-fight interview, at least taking pride in seeing the final bell as he confirmed his intention to return to light-middleweight and called out undisputed welterweight champion Terence Crawford, who may now move up after his historic dismantling of Errol Spence Jr last month.
Canelo, meanwhile, triumphantly insisted that no one would be able to beat this version of him, professing his undying love for the sport as he confirmed that he would next fight on Cinco de Mayo weekend but “did not give a f**k” if it was against David Benavidez.
There was controversy in the co-main event of the night as former Mike Tyson protege Erickson Lubin earned a surprise unanimous decision win to end Jesus Ramos Jr’s unbeaten streak in a WBC/WBA eliminator in the super-welterweight division.
Mario Barrios became the interim WBC welterweight champion after almost stopping Cuba’s Yordenis Ugas en route to an impressive points victory.
In the early prelims, Cuban heavyweight Frank Sanchez stopped Scott Alexander, Terrell Gausha outpointed KeAndrae Leatherwood and Isaac Rodrigues was stopped early by Ukraine’s Oleksandr Gvozdyk.