Saul "Canelo" Alvarez (57-1-2, 39 KOs) became the first undisputed super middleweight champion in the division's history Saturday night, defeating Caleb Plant (21-1, 12 KOs) by 11th-round technical knockout in front of a sellout crowd at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
Plant took a ton of punishment in the fight, with Alvarez walking him down constantly and loading up on his power punches. The accumulated damage finally saw Plant crumble late. Alvarez scored a knockdown with a right uppercut midway through the 11th, and after a brief recovery from Plant, finished the bout for good with a vicious barrage of punches along the ropes.
Alvarez claimed Plant's IBF world title with the win, adding it to the WBC, WBO and WBA belts he held coming into the fight. He's won world titles in multiple divisions, but this is the first time he's owned all four belts in a single weight class.
Boxing legend Manny Pacquiao complemented Alvarez on his historic win after the fight.
Plant, 29, was always going to have to rely on his footwork and hand speed to be effective, while Alvarez made it his mission to use his pressure and power to establish control.
Alvarez, 31, did well to cut off the ring early on and trapped Plant on the ropes, neutralizing the underdog's length and making it difficult for him to establish a strong jab. At close range, Alvarez was clearly the more effective fighter.
Plant wasn't overpowered, though. He did well to get out of the tough spots, and his speed served him well when he was able to keep the fight in the center of the ring. Alvarez nailed him with some great power shots in the fourth round, but Plant absorbed them well.
Halfway through the fifth, Plant landed perhaps his best combo of the night, briefly forcing Alvarez to back off from the center of the ring. Alvarez was quick to regroup after taking those shots. He was confident that his chin, which survived the likes of Sergey Kovalev and Gennadiy Golovkin, could handle whatever Plant threw his way.
Alvarez cruised through the seventh and eighth rounds, loading up on his lead left hand and battering Plant's torso. Plant had some slick defensive maneuvers and absorbed the blows well, but his punches had far less bite to them. His speed remained a potent weapon, and he was able to tag Alvarez a few times when the latter's technique got sloppy.
Eventually, Alvarez's strength and determination won out. The body punches sapped Plant's energy, and his shrewd defensive tactics swiftly disappeared. That gave Alvarez an opening to end the fight in spectacular fashion, once again confirming he's worthy of being called the No. 1 pound-for-pound boxer in the sport today.
With the division unified, Alvarez is in position to do whatever he wants for his next act. He's won titles in four weight classes, and he will have his pick of opponents when he wants to return to the ring. That future challenger will have his work cut out for him because the form Alvarez is in makes it difficult to imagine him losing anytime soon.