By Robert Aaron Contreras
If fighting is natural, boxing is genetic.
On Saturday, Rene Alvarado joined twin brother Felix, who holds the IBF light flyweight belt, as the first Nicaraguan siblings to simultaneously hold world championships. It was a seven-to-one oddsbreaking, knockout performance for Alvarado (32-8, 21 KO) who dethroned defending champion Andrew Cancio (21-5-2, 16 KO).
The fight ended after the seventh round, when Cancio’s trainer told referee Raul Caiz Sr. that his charge had received enough punishment in the main event of DAZN’s broadcast from Indio, California
“It’s a feeling that’s very hard to describe,” Alvarado said, through a translator, getting used to a new gold strap over his shoulder. “It’s something I wanted ever since I started my career. Now Nicaragua has a new champion. Twin brothers. All glory goes to Nicaragua.”
The championship fight was a rematch of nondescript meeting between Alvarado and Cancio in 2015, before the limelight ever had a spot for them, which the American took on an eighth-round TKO.
Out of the gate, seemingly out for revenge, in a frenetic pace, Alvarado immediately bashed up Cancio. From every which way, the challenger stole the opening round with an array of looping punches.
Cancio had Alvarado where he wanted him in Round 2, in close quarters. So Alvarado used his long arms to beat the champion to the punch, sitting on winging right hands. Their weight pressed against each other, Cancio went downstairs twice only for four punches to be returned in his direction.
Cancio’s focus shifted to slicing apart his man’s guard by going up the middle. But the spindly puncher proved he could catch.
Alvarado assumed his fencing stance for the third period. His eyes never left his target when Cancio tried barreling into him. The challenger mashed right hooks into Cancio’s face. Cancio was being whipped around. His head fell over his center of gravity and into Alvarado which the Nicaraguan responded by using his forearms to muscle Cancio’s dome in line for more careening blows.
Admirably, Cancio’s right and left straights went on tilting… at windmills because Alvarado was cruising from the outside. His elongated jab set up flashing right uppercuts, followed up by a left hook. An overhand right bounced off Cancio before more slinging punches from Alvarado—just as a sidearm pitcher would—brought in the doctor ahead of the fifth stanza.
Alvarado drilled into Cancio some more in the fifth. Though it would not the same heavy artillery in the sixth and seventh rounds. Cancio’s face glowing crimson, he experienced his best round if only because Alvarado took most of the three minutes off.
The damage had already been done.
Cancio’s corner could be heard on the broadcast giving his pupil “one more round.”
Too bad Cancio’s strategy in the fateful inning was no different. Short straight lefts initiated his combo, followed by a downward right crosses. Not creative enough to deter Alvarado. At this point stretching out left hands, then snapping together right and left butchering, chopping strikes.
That Round 7 wasn’t particularly punishing but did nothing to reassure Cancio’s trainer that it would be safe to let the action continue.
The punch stats painted a clear picture as Alvarado landed 232 of 703 (33 percent). And Cancio connected on 154 of 559 total blows (28 percent).
It turned out, getting one back on Cancio was never Alvarado’s main goal. Instead, history.
“My objective was to make sure I became champion on this important day,” Alvarado said. “When Alexis Arguello became champion for the first time.”
Arguello earned his first title 45 years ago to the day over Mexican legend Ruben Olivares, also in California. Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez turned up for the occasion, spurring his countryman on from the front row.
Alvarado came into the fight unbeaten dating back to the spring of 2017. Before that, he was on a 6-6 run that included a massive defeat to Cancio. Now he has won eight straight and due for a homecoming.
Can Xu defends featherweight crown
Featherweight world titlist Can Xu retained his belt for the second time this year as he decisioned Manny Robles III in chief support of DAZN’s broadcast competing with a heavyweight pay-per-view.
Xu (18-2, 3 KO) who earned his 126-pound world title in January—defending it four months later—never took his foot off the petal, doubling the punch output of Robles (18-1, 8 KO). The judges had it 118-110, 120-108, and 119-109, all for the Chinese champion.
“We trained very hard. We wanted to show everybody war!” Xu explained in markedly improved English before calling for a unification with Josh Warrington—”Josh, you called me out. You see me here, I’m here. I’m featherweight champion of the world—and giving the California crowd an enthusiastic “gracias.”
In Round 1, the bodies quickly hit the deck. It was referee Edward Hernandez, not the fighters, who visited the canvas.
Robles retreated to his right from incoming offense from Xu at the same time Hernandez was shuffling in the same direction and the two collided with the ref losing his balance.
The theme of the night became evident in the second round. Both men traded from medium-range, keen on establishing combos revolving around sharp uppercuts.
The third round saw Xu’s uppercuts make contact with his challenger’s midsection.
Robles returned stiff orthodox jabs upstairs. While Xu worked off his cultured lead left hand, hooking and slashing in rhythm.
The two-handed attack from the champion took sole control of the center of the ring by Round 4 and Xu’s output only ramped up in the fifth and beyond.
The waves of punches drove Robles backwards. The American was jammed into the corner in Round 7. His offense was reduced by the eighth to sitting on the balls of his feet, waiting for Xu’s fists to complete their cycle, and toss back singular, flinging left hooks.
Robles could no longer keep his hands up in the tenth period. There his nose opened up, bleeding. Xu took advantage, stuffing right and left straights followed by angling left hooks.
Completely balanced, the champion’s feet inched to and fro, right and left, out and away, nothing otherworldly, but consistently shifting position. Once taking a step back and planting his right foot and driving that kinetic energy through his legs up to a straight right into Robles’ face.
The interchanging punches did not stop in the championship rounds. Robles managed to press forward, though his punches has little pop. Xu put him in a corner near the end of the 12th, where Robles mustered up the little he had left for a two-way blitz before the final bell.
Of total landed shots, Xu landed 402 of a whopping 1,562 punches (25 percent) while Robles connected with 199-of-765 (26 percent).