Last weekend, over 50,000 fans descended upon AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, for a sporting event featuring a variety of world-class athletes showcasing their skills. When people think of an athletic event at the place also known as Jerry’s World, the thoughts trend more in the context of the Dallas Cowboys with a sprinkle of college and high school football for good measure. However, the event that brought the people out last Saturday night was none other than boxing, and the feature event was a 12-round matchup for the WBO Junior Middleweight Championship between Liam “Beefy” Smith and Saul “Canelo” Alvarez. With that said, there were two fighters in the ring, but the latter, Alvarez, was far and away the brightest star of the evening.
Sept. 17, 2016, marked Canelo’s third trek to the great state of Texas for a boxing event or, in the words of Apollo Creed’s trainer in Rocky III, an exhibition. His previous two events brought out more than 30,000 fans to watch his brand of burgeoning boxing brilliance. His first fight in San Antonio, in 2013 against Austin Trout, resulted in Canelo giving Trout his first loss. His second fight in Houston, in 2015 against James Kirkland, ended in a vicious knockout to Kirkland courtesy of an overhand right by Alvarez. With the combination of Canelo’s previous treks to Texas along with last weekend being Mexican Independence Weekend, the ingredients were in place for the next face of boxing to continue his climb to greatness and continue the boxing revolution.
From the time footsteps were taken from the parking lot ¾ of a mile away to the arrival at the ticket booth to retrieve the materials to actually get inside Jerry’s World, the atmosphere was undeniably rooted in all things Mexico with Canelo at the center of attention. Fans congregated in Canelo T-shirts, hats and headbands. The scent of Tecate beer permeated the atmosphere with people buying and drinking cans with enthusiastic consistency. The fights before the main event may have lacked in action inside of the ring, but the elements outside of the ring and throughout the stadium were of sheer excitement.
There were no signs of anxiety from anyone in viewing or listening proximity. When Canelo made his walk to the ring, the fans showered him with praise in a way that is reserved for legends. It was absolutely remarkable to witness a country in attendance root on one of its own. People were ready for the Canelo Alvarez Show, and despite Liam Smith being the defending champion, the case can be made that Smith was merely a character in this production and nothing more than a lamb being led to slaughter.
Over the course of six rounds, Canelo took his time and picked Smith apart with fans fueling him on with their inordinate amount of noise, incessant chants and increasing cheers. The crowd never stopped. Fans were nonstop, and by the seventh round when Canelo floored Smith for the first of three knockdowns, the roars were deafening. Smith was knocked down again the eighth before finally being taken to the outhouse and put out of his misery in the ninth. It was a merciful ending to a brutal night for a fighter who has 25 professional fights to his name and came into the night on an 18-fight win streak. Smith must be commended for leaving his familiar surroundings, his place of peace in England, to come on foreign soil against a fighter the caliber of Canelo Alvarez.
With that said, Smith was merely a blip on the radar, a person in the way of a boxing revolution. Canelo Alvarez may be bred from a country rich in boxing history, but the way he is positioning himself in the sport reeks of the change that boxing fans claim to want. Canelo is realizing his bargaining power as well as his star power in the wake of the retirement of Floyd Mayweather and whatever the hell Manny Pacquiao is doing at this point. People show up to see the Canelo Alvarez Show, and people pay money to witness the Canelo Alvarez Show. With those facts in place, and with no other active boxer realistically able to say the same, Canelo is currently in a class of his own.