Canelo Alvarez looked a lot like Canelo Alvarez.
The undisputed 168-pound champion, who many suggested was in decline after three consecutive subpar performances, turned back the clock by dominating Jermell Charlo from start to finish to win a one-sided decision Saturday at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
The official scores were 119-108, 118-109 and 118-109. Boxing Junkie also scored it 118-109 for Alvarez, 10 rounds to two.
What a difference good health makes.
“I'm a strong fighter,” said Alvarez, who blamed his struggles on an injured left wrist that is now healed, “all the time, with all the fighters. I'm a strong man. This Canelo, nobody can beat this Canelo.”
Alvarez (60-2-2, 39 KOs) was knocked from his pound-for-pound perch by 175-pound champ Dmitry Bivol, who outpointed him in May of last year. Then he gave so-so performances in victories over Gennadiy Golovkin and John Ryder.
That's why many opined that 18 years as a professional were beginning to catch up with him. His response to that? Wait and see what he could do injury free.
We saw on Saturday.
Alvarez applied overwhelming pressure on the highly respected Charlo (35-2-1, 19 KOs) from the second round on, landing more than enough punishing blows to the head and body to win rounds and prevent Charlo from mounting an attack of his own.
Charlo, the undisputed 154-pound champ who moved up two divisions for the fight, tried to move and pepper Alvarez with quick, sometimes hard blows to keep him at bay but he had neither the punch volume nor the power to earn the stronger man's respect.
Alvarez put Charlo down in Round 7, when a straight right dazed the challenger and forced him to take a knee.
Charlo survived that punch and proved to be both durable and clever enough to last the entire 12 rounds against a bigger, stronger man, which many believed would be difficult.
The challenger, an excellent technician, was adept at avoiding clean punches to the head, aside from a handful of them. And he took everything Alvarez managed to land, including 42 hard shots to the body, according to CompuBox.
Alvarez was asked about his body work. His response made it clear that he's as passionate about the sport as he has ever been, an indication that he has now put his struggles behind him.
“I worked on that in the gym for three months in the mountains without my family, without my friends,” he said. “I still love boxing. I still love boxing. I still love boxing so f—ing much. Boxing is my life.
“Boxing made me the person I am today. That's why I love it so much.”
And what about his failure to stop Charlo? Not an issue.
“No no no,” he said. “I feel great. That's why we fight 12 rounds. If I don't get the knockout, I get 12 rounds to show I'm the best, I'm the better fighter.”
Alvarez, 33, can now look forward to his next challenge with all the confidence he had when he climbed to the pinnacle of the sport.
He was asked whether he expected to fight next on Cinco de Mayo weekend, which has become his tradition. He seemed to indicate that that is the plan. Then he was asked who he'd like to fight, which sparked his passion again.
“We'll see who's next,” he said.
“David Benavidez?” he was asked.
“I don't know. I don't f—ing care,” he responded, his way of reiterating that no one can take down this version of him.
The proud Texan obviously wasn't pleased afterward but he also wasn't despondent.
“I just felt like it wasn't me in there,” he said. “I don't make excuses for myself. So it is what it is. I take my punches and roll with it. This is boxing. Hey, you win some, you lose some. … Truthfully you can feel the difference in the weight. I jumped up 14 pounds.
“I'm undisputed in my division. I was daring to be great right now. You fall short sometimes. You have just keep pushing. My road don't stop right here.”
Indeed, it doesn't. He said he plans on moving back down to 154, at which he expects to face the winner of the Oct. 14 Tim Tszyu-Brian Mendoza fight in defense of his titles. He also said he'd like to pick on a smaller man for a change.
“I want to fight [welterweight champ] Terence Crawford,” he said. “I could fight Terence Crawford in my weight division. I know he's somewhere around this joint. Let him fight Errol Spence or whatever they got going. Get that out of the way.
“I'm waiting. I'm about to get right back into the gym.”
Win, lose, big things lie ahead.