New details have emerged about the sickening injuries Billy Joe Saunders suffered in his super middleweight title defeat to Canelo Alvarez in Texas on Saturday.
Alvarez demonstrated precisely why he is widely-regarded as the world’s best pound-for-pound fighter, unleashing a vicious uppercut to the right side of Saunders’ face in the eighth round of the bout.
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Saunders somehow managed to stay on his feet and fight through to the end of the round, despite the fact he "couldn't see" due to the devastating nature of his injuries.
The British fighter was checked by his team after the eighth round but trainer Mark Tibbs was left with no choice but to wave off the fight, with Saunders unable to see properly out of one eye.
As Alvarez celebrated winning his third title in the 168lb division – adding Saunders’ WBO crown to his WBC and WBA belts – his beaten opponent departed in an ambulance to hospital.
Leading boxing identity Eddie Hearn - who promotes both fighters - later revealed the brutal extent of the injuries to Saunders after confirming that he needed surgery.
“Just at hospital in Dallas, @bjsaunders_ stayed in overnight," Hearn tweeted. Suffered multiple fractures to orbital area and will undergo surgery this afternoon.”
Alvarez says he knew immediately that he had broken something in the Brit's face after delivering what many viewers described as an "uppercut from hell".
“I went back to the corner and told my trainer Eddy (Reynoso) I didn’t think he could continue because when you break a cheekbone, you risk your life and you can’t continue that way.
“I knew what I was doing and I knew what I did with that punch, I knew he wouldn’t come back after I broke his cheekbone. I love boxing and this is what I love to do.”
Saunders 'couldn't see' after shot
Hearn revealed shortly after the incident that Saunders' condition meant his team were unwilling to risk sending their man out for the ninth round.
“He couldn’t see,” Hearn said of Saunders after the fight.
“I spoke to Mark Tibbs (Saunders’ trainer) — he said he couldn’t see and he wouldn’t let him go out.
“I thought Billy boxed beautifully. Canelo is so strong, he took his time. Billy is so tricky, but he busted his eye socket. Canelo coming on strong in the back end of the fight. Too good.”
Saunders acquitted himself well for seven-and-a-half rounds in front of an overwhelmingly pro-Alvarez crowd of 73,126 – setting a new benchmark for the highest attendance at an indoor boxing event in the United States.
He was behind on all three judges’ scorecards at the time of the stoppage but he was starting to find some rhythm as the fight progressed, using his superb lateral movement to frustrate his rival in Arlington on Saturday night.
But Alvarez, a four-division world champion, remained composed and turned the course of the fight with a single punch in the eighth round, a crouching Saunders unable to get out of the way of a full-blooded uppercut.
Alvarez (now 56-1-2, 38KOs) instinctively sensed his previously unbeaten rival was hurt, raising both hands to raucous cheers, before unloading more fearsome shots as Saunders (now 30-1, 14KOs) entered survival mode.
The Mexican now holds three of the four major world titles in the super middleweight division, with IBF champion Caleb Plant firmly in his sights.
Hearn said at ringside: “There is no excuse why the Caleb Plant fight shouldn’t be made.”
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