Canelo entered the T-Mobile Arena as undisputed super-middleweight champion, and he left Las Vegas with that status intact after defeating Charlo, the undisputed super-welterweight champion.
Canelo won a unanimous decision (119-108, 118-109, 118-109), with the highlight coming in Round 7, as the Mexican dropped Charlo to a knee after landing a hard overhand right.
Canelo, 33, marched down Charlo, also 33, for almost the entirety of the fight – the first to pit two undisputed male champions against each other in the four-belt era – and was unaffected by his challenger’s brighter moments.
In the first half of the fight, Canelo invested in attacks to Charlo’s body, frequently burrowing hooks into the mid-section of the American, whose twin brother Jermall was originally expected to fight Alvarez here.
That body work not only drained Charlo but also lured the challenger’s hands low enough to expose his head, which Canelo tagged clean on a number of occasions, including for the knockdown.
Charlo’s coach Derrick James told his fighter after the 10th round: “You’ve got to go all out. You’re losing the fight, so what do you wanna do? Go and stop him, he’s tired now!” However, Charlo could not capitalise.
Canelo, with his victory, became the first champion to retain their undisputed titles three times; earlier this year, the Mexican outpointed John Ryder, having scored a knockdown en route to a unanimous-decision win, and last year he beat Gennady Golovkin on points to round out their trilogy.
Canelo’s performances in those fights, as well as his prior defeat by Dmitry Bivol at light-heavyweight, led some fans and pundits to suggest that the four-weight world champion was past his peak. But Alvarez hit back in the ring and on the microphone on Saturday. “Nobody can beat this Canelo,” he said after his win.
“No, [I’m not disappointed that I didn’t get a knockout]. If I don’t get that knockout, I get 12 rounds to show why I’m the better fighter.
“I’m a strong fighter, I’m a strong man. We know he’s a great fighter, he knows how to move in the ring. We worked to go to the body. We worked on that for three months in the mountains without my family, but I still love boxing. I love boxing so f***ing much. Boxing is my life, and I love it because of my fans, too.
“ [On] Cinco de Mayo [I’ll be back]. Whoever, I don’t f***ing care. Viva Mexico!”
Meanwhile, Charlo said: “Truthfully, you could feel the difference in the weight. I went up 14lbs, I dared to be great tonight. I’m proud of myself. He didn’t knock me out, he knocked out a lot of other guys. He hit me with some hard shots.”
The American also vowed to return to super-welterweight, calling for a fight with undisputed welterweight champion Terence Crawford, who was in attendance. Crawford has said he may move up a division after his planned rematch with Errol Spence Jr, whom he beat with a masterful showing in July.