LAS VEGAS –– Mexican star and WBC junior middleweight titleholder Saul “Canelo” Alvarez scored three knockdowns during his fifth round stoppage over Josesito Lopez, earning an extra $100,000 for the night’s best knockout before a sold out crowd of 14,275 in the Showtime-televised main event at MGM Grand Garden Arena on Saturday night.
Alvarez (41-0-1, 30 knockouts) already was set to earn $2 million against Lopez (30-5, 18 KOs).
In an earlier bout, IBF bantamweight titleholder and Mexican-born Leo Santa Cruz (21-0-1, 11 KOs), of Lincoln Heights, Calif., scored a sixth-round TKO over Puerto Rican-born veteran contender Eric Morel (46-4, 23 KOs), of Madison, Wis., who was stopped for the first time in his career.
Also on the undercard of the Mexican Independence Day weekend event, hard-punching Argentine Marcos Maidana (32-3, 29 KOs) scored an eighth-round technical knockout over Mexican-born welterweight rival Jesus Soto Karass (26-8-3, 17 KOs), whom he dropped in the seventh round.
The bout ended when a nasty gash emerged over the right eye of Gonzalez (52-8, 45 KOs), of Mexico City, after which it was determined that Gonzalez could not continue and that the result must depend on the judges’ cards.
Judges Dick Houck and David Sutherland had it 79-72, and Jerry Roth, 77-74, all for Ponce de Leon (43-4, 35 KOs), a Mexican-born resident of Huntington Park, Calif., and former 122-pound titleholder.
Ponce de Leon ended a 12-fight winning streak that included 11 knockouts for Gonzalez, who was dropped in the sixth round of the match up.
In the night’s first bout, junior middleweight Eddie Gomez (10-0, 7 KOs), of the Bronx, N.Y., scored a third-round knockout over Quinton Whitaker (9-10, 5 KOs), of San Antonio, Tex.
Next up was Mexico City junior lightweight Francisco Vargas (12-0-1, 9 KOs) scoring a unanimous decision over Victor Sanchez (3-4-1), of Houston, Tex., ending what had been a streak of nine straight knockout victories by Vargas.
In another junior lightweight clash, Sergio Thompson (23-2, 21 KOs), of Chetumai, Mex., stopped Carlos Claudio (15-9-3, 8 KOs), of Guayama, P.R., for his eighth consecutive knockout win.
Junior featherweight Andres Gutierrez (23-0-1, 19 KOs), of Guadalajara, Mex., unanimously decisioned Carlos Valcarcel (12-6-4, 5 KOs), of Catana, P.R., who suffered his fourth straight loss.
Lem Satterfield can be reached at email@example.com