Canelo unifies titles after Saunders' corner waves off fight in front of record crowd

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Saul 'Canelo' Alvarez stopped Billy Joe Saunders via an eighth-round TKO in their blockbuster bout to unify the WBA, WBC and WBO super-middleweight titles.

Mexican superstar Canelo and Saunders went head-to-head in front of 73,216 fans at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas – the largest crowd for an indoor boxing event in United States history.

Canelo did not disappoint inside the ring as WBO holder Saunders quit on his stool with an eye injury at the end of the eighth round.

Saunders' right eye was practically swollen shut, leading to his corner to throw in the towel before the start of the ninth round – Canelo unifying the division with another belt.

Canelo improved to 56-1-2 as Saunders (30-1) tasted defeat for the first time in his professional career.

Entering the contest, WBC and WBA champion Canelo had beaten the six previous British boxers he faced – Matthew Hatton, Ryan Rhodes, Amir Khan, Liam Smith, Rocky Fielding and Callum Smith.

Saunders was looking to buck the trend after a feisty build-up – a dispute over the ring size during fight week leaving the Brit contemplating a flight home, but a compromise was reached to make sure the bout went ahead.

The pair, who were set to go head-to-head last year only for the coronavirus pandemic to force a change in plans as Canelo fought Smith in December instead, felt each other out in the opening round.

With his wide southpaw stance, Saunders pumped the right jab however Canelo continued to advance forward – throwing two uppercuts but coming up empty on both occasions, though he connected with a right hand on the jaw in the second round and another two uppercuts to the body.

Another powerful hand to Saunders' jaw gave Canelo the upper hand in the third round as the previously undefeated opponent continued to invite more.

Saunders was not to be overawed as a nice crisp combination surprised Canelo in the fourth, though the latter came back with shots to the body and an uppercut that also sent the former's mouthpiece flying.

As the fight grew in distance, so did Saunders' confidence – his sharpness catching Canelo with a straight left and quick short hook as he made the Mexican started to miss.

Rallying the crowd as he pushed Saunders against the ropes, Canelo started to flex his muscles in the eighth round and a shot to face left his opponent with a badly hurt eye, which eventually saw the fight waved off.