Tonight's main event at the raucous Alamadome in San Antonio lived up to the hype in terms of quality and had what is likely going to be the best atmosphere of any fight in the world this year as 39 472 fans (official attendance) made it a truly special night on Showtime boxing.
Canelo Alvarez came out the decision winner over Austin Trout unifying the WBC and WBA titles by scores of 115 112 116 111 and 118 109. The WBC's awful open scoring was in effect so viewers on TV were able to find out that after eight rounds Trout (26 1 14 KO) was mathematically out of the fight.
This also allowed Alvarez (42 0 1 30 KO) to cruise down the stretch avoiding risks that he may otherwise have taken had he suspected there was a possibility he could have lost the fight.
It needs to be said that both guys fought well tonight. Canelo did more damage including putting Trout on the canvas in the seventh round with a beautiful right hand that shook Trout's legs staggering him to the canvas. It was the first time Trout had been down in his career and he responded pretty well with some observers even feeling he did enough in the round to earn a 9 10 score instead of 8 10.
Much of the fight was closely contested and intense though rarely exciting in the traditional sense. What stood out in a big way was the defensive work of Canelo Alvarez whose head movement was much better than ever before and allowed him to slip a lot of shots. Trout was really unable to connect on anything big but he also was able to dictate the pace in many rounds and used his jab to keep the fight at his pace and distance enough that it wouldn't have been hard to score the fight in his favor.
Also notable on that front is that Alvarez who had the showier moments did still fight in spurts too often. At times he looked like the boss a hard hitting slugger who could physically push Trout around. At other times he was stuck in a standstill mode with Trout maybe not dominating him but simply doing more work.
It is a hard fight to recap in that I don't have enormously strong feelings about the outcome. I could see Trout winning and I could see Canelo winning. It was a good close fight a matchup that delivered in the ring as it should have equaling its on paper potential.
The only thing I do have a strong opinion on is that open scoring does nobody any favors. The nonsense that it would help eradicate poor judging is clearly just a press release line it's not like anything has ever been done about bad scores in fights with open scoring. The only difference really is that we knew after eight rounds that Trout had lost the fight unless he managed a miracle knockout. That to me both takes the drama out of the fight for a viewer who knows the score and also allows a fighter to totally change his approach in a fight that looks closer than the scores at ringside are in reality or at least reality.
But if there is any great question about the legitimacy of Canelo's win you only have to ask Trout who was candid and gracious in defeat.
He was the better man Trout told Showtime's Jim Gray. He was quicker he was stronger he was the better man.
Trout said he'd make no excuses. Then in the upset of the year he actually made zero excuses. On a night where you could complain about some of what happened on the officiating side (though it should be said that referee Laurence Cole was invisible and did a good job) it was nice to end the evening on a good note. Canelo talked no trash nor did Trout. They were admirable in victory and defeat.
Alvarez marches forward as a rising superstar. Trout says he'll be back and given his track record of going further than he's supposed to I have to believe him.