(Reuters) – Saul “Canelo” Alvarez proved too strong for Rocky Fielding as he delivered a third round TKO on Saturday to easily win their WBA super middleweight title fight at Madison Square Garden. The 28-year-old Mexican, a heavy favorite, imposed his will from the opening bell, delivering punishing body shots and knocking down his outmatched British opponent a total of four times. Alvarez, whose record improves to 51-1-2, sealed the win with a left hook that caused Fielding to take a knee and the referee to end the bout.
Alvarez landed 35 body shots in all.
“That’s what we planned,” Alvarez told reporters, of attacking his opponent’s body. “We knew he had that weakness. Each one that landed felt like I hurt him.”
Despite standing taller at 6-foot-1 and enjoying a three-inch reach advantage, Fielding (27-2-0) entered the night as a clear underdog. Alvarez, whose lone defeat came at the hands of Floyd Mayweather in 2013, showed why as he became a three-division world champion and put himself in line for another headline fight against a more formidable opponent.
The future appears to be full of possibilities for Alvarez, who moved up to 168 pounds for the fight but insisted he would have no issue in potentially dropping back down.
“I felt very strong. We did a good job and I feel very happy,” Alvarez said.
“We’ll enjoy this triumph and everything we’ve accomplished in 2018, and then we’ll think about what is coming.”
Fielding had fought his way back from a crushing first round TKO defeat to Callum Smith three years ago, winning six straight bouts before facing Alvarez.
“I came back when no one gave me a chance. I’ll come back (again), that’s what fighters do,” Fielding said. “(Canelo) is an elite fighter. He does everything well. He’s the best I’ve fought.”
Fielding fell to the canvas in each of the opening rounds but bravely fought on.
The 31-year-old said he ultimately regretted standing immobile in front of Alvarez for so long.
Many boxing fans watched the fight through the live-streaming service DAZN, who signed a deal with Alvarez worth $365 million to stream 11 fights.
The streaming service, which charges a $9.99 monthly fee but offers a free trial service, is aiming to change the pay-per-view model.
Writing by Jahmal Corner in Los Angeles, editing by Nick Mulvenney and Sudipto Ganguly