Saul 'Canelo' Alvarez forced Billy Joe Saunders to retire on his stool at the end of the eighth round of their super middleweight unification fight on Saturday night and immediately turned his focus to the one title not in his possession.
Putting his WBC and WBA titles on the line against undefeated WBO champion Saunders, Alvarez started strong in the opening rounds before his British opponent managed to find his way into the fight.
However, just as Saunders looked to have found his range and some rhythm, working effectively off the jab, Alvarez unleashed a vicious shot in the eighth round that ultimately ended the fight.
Saunders sat still saying he couldn't see out of his right eye which was badly swollen from Alvarez's repeated and deliberate blows.
Alvarez could sense victory in the eighth as he chased the southpaw around the ring waiving his arms in the air as if to let the pro-Mexican crowd know that the end was near.
"I knew it," Alvarez said. "I think I broke his cheek. He didn't come out to fight because I broke his cheek."
Saunders headed from the ring to the hospital to get his injured eye looked at.
Alvarez improved to 56-1-2 with 38 knockouts, while Saunders, 31, dropped to 30-1 with 14 KOs.
Alvarez, 30, often brutally overpowers his opponents before knocking them out and even though that wasn't the case this time he followed the game plan set out by his trainers to perfection.
"I said before the fight that it was going to develop by seventh and eighth round," Alvarez said. "I was winning round by round.
"I started to adjust really quick."
The victory is another step in four-weight world champion Alvarez's quest to dominate the 168-pound division, and the 30-year-old Mexican has set his sights on doing just that as soon as possible. The only title Alvarez does not hold, the IBF strap, currently belongs to unbeaten American Caleb Plant.
"I want Plant," he says. "I am coming my friend. I hope that fight is made easy. Let's give the fans that fight."
Alvarez's promoter, Matchroom CEO Eddie Hearn, agreed with his fighter. "It's the only fight," Hearn said. "Hopefully Plant feels the same way. We want to keep the great times coming in boxing. It would be the first Mexican undisputed at 168lbs. Alvarez will fight anybody, we know who he wants. It's over to Plant. That's the fight that must happen."
Alvarez's victory was witnessed by 73,000 plus fans at AT&T Stadium, the largest US crowd to watch a sports event since the coronavirus pandemic and the largest attendance for an indoor boxing fight.
Supported by the overwhelming majority inside the stadium, Alvarez thanked the supporters for turning out.
"It's something very difficult to explain," he said. "I don't have words, the emotion I feel for all the people who have come out. The motivation they give me to continue on is very difficult to explain."