Saul Alvarez dominates Matthew Hatton

Updated: March 6, 2011, 1:48 AM ET
Associated Press

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Saul Alvarez raised his gloves to cheers from a raucous crowd chanting his nickname, and his friends affixed his first championship belt around his waist.

Not many 20-year-old fighters have ever been on such a ride, but Canelo's career just keeps on skyrocketing.

Alvarez dominated nearly every minute and unanimously outpointed Matthew Hatton on Saturday night to win the vacant WBC 154-pound belt, adding another superlative to a top boxing prospect's remarkable rise.

"This was a great experience for me," Alvarez said. "This was my first world title shot, but it's the first of many, and I'll win them all for my fans. I want to fight the biggest and the best. I'm going to be the next big name of Mexico."

The redheaded, freckle-faced Mexican phenomenon known as Canelo -- the Spanish word for cinnamon -- became the youngest man to win the super welterweight title with a brutally effective performance against the overmatched Hatton, the younger brother of former world champion Ricky Hatton.

Alvarez (36-0-1, 26 KOs) picked apart Hatton from the opening bell, peppering the smaller Englishman with head shots and using his brute power. Hatton (41-5-2) twice went to the canvas after getting hit out of a break with Alvarez, but wasn't seriously hurt either time.

All three judges scored the bout 119-108, meaning Alvarez won every round on every card. He lost one point for an illegal punch in the seventh round, which was uniformly scored 9-9.

The overwhelmingly pro-Mexican crowd of 11,674 at Anaheim's Honda Center roared for the fighter who's already among his nation's most famous athletes. The world will soon know all about Canelo if this title leads to bouts against the division's biggest names, and Alvarez insists he's ready for it.

Alvarez has won 32 consecutive fights since June 2006, when he was a raw 15-year-old. He tried to finish off Hatton, who hasn't been stopped in more than eight years, but never knocked down the Manchester native with an impressive chin.

"He's a good fighter," Alvarez said. "People criticized him, but he was a tough guy."

Alvarez landed 47 percent of his 626 punches, including 53 percent of his power shots, while Hatton connected with just 25 percent of his 546 total blows.

Adrien Broner also remained unbeaten with a feisty unanimous decision over Daniel Ponce De Leon on the undercard.

Alvarez missed the 150-pound catch weight by 1.4 pounds on Friday, but the fight went on after Alvarez apparently agreed to pay a penalty to his opponent. Hatton, a longtime welterweight who claimed the European title while winning four straight bouts last year, agreed to stay in his first world title shot for the belt vacated by Manny Pacquiao.

"He's a fantastic fighter, but he was just too big," Hatton said. "He never really hurt me. It was just a size difference. I want to go back down to my natural weight at welterweight, and hopefully I'll get another shot there. When you get an opportunity to fight for a title, you can't turn it down."

The second-largest boxing crowd in Honda Center history was yet another testament to the exploding popularity of Alvarez, whose American fame grows with every fight in Southern California. It's unlikely any other 20-year-old fighter with no world titles could pack this many fans into an arena that isn't even in his hometown -- and Canelo is just getting started.

Alvarez clearly was both bigger and more athletic from the start, stalking forward and landing multiple shots that bloodied Hatton's face by the second round. Alvarez dominated into the seventh, when he hit Hatton coming out of a break.

Hatton took several steps before taking a knee for a timeout, and referee Lou Moret took away a point from Alvarez. That just made Canelo mad: He landed several dynamite combinations to finish the round, rocking Hatton.

Hatton took another exaggerated tumble in the 10th round in response to another blow out of a clinch from Alvarez, who was angry about Hatton's shot to his groin. Hatton actually started complaining to Moret before falling down, and his theatrics again angered Alvarez, who finished the 10th ferociously.

Broner (20-0, 16 KOs), a rising 130-pounder from Cincinnati, used his superior technical skills for a close decision over Ponce De Leon (41-3), the entertaining Mexican brawler. Broner reveled in his villain role in the overwhelmingly Latino crowd, taunting the fans and basking in their boos before leaving the arena to a shower of sodas and trash.

"He was a great fighter, so I had to respect him, but I stayed true to my plan," Broner said. "I was smart and listened to my coach. He had power, but everyone can punch with 8-ounce gloves on."

During the early undercard fights, Golden Boy prospects Daniel Jacobs and James Kirkland both beat opponents with losing records by first-round knockout. Nearly two years since the last time he fought, Kirkland (26-0, 23 KOs) was back in the ring after serving an 18-month prison sentence for gun possession as a felon.

Nonito Donaire and junior welterweight champions Timothy Bradley and Amir Khan were among the fans near ringside.


Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press