Eleider Alvarez relies on technique, not power, to overcome Rayco Saunders

21 Apr

Robert Delgado – Los Angeles

Undefeated light heavyweight Eleider Alvarez convincingly beat Rayco Saunders by way of unanimous eight round decision on the televised opener of ESPN‘s popular boxing series Friday Night Fights. Saunders, a 37-year-old who had previously boxed 246 rounds, had only been halted once and had thus been brought in to give Alvarez rounds – something he did well at the Bell Centre in Montreal on Friday, April 20.

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Delgado’s scorecard

Round 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
9 9 9 9 10 10 9 9

10 10 10
10 9 9 10 10

Official verdict: All three judges submitted a score of 80-72.

Experienced survivalist Saunders – a journeyman from the proud sporting city of Pittsburgh – engaged in a fight that initially contained a slow tempo. Emerging Colombian prospect Alvarez was the quicker pugilist and, blessed with greater poise and superior technique, Alvarez was the aggressor in round one and all his moves were introduced by a forceful jab.

Alvarez varied his attack in round two. He peeled off three punch combos to the body, double-jabbed to the face and, when he changed into a more aggressive gear midway through the stanza, he completely outclassed Saunders who was too tentative in attack. Saunders’ main plus point was his high guard that was, at times, impenetrable but Alvarez was unfazed, returned to the open body which lowered his opponent’s shield and thus opened up a route upstairs.

In the third, Alvarez showed even greater speed. The exquisite jab alone was winning the rounds for the 6-foot tall, Montreal-based 28-year-old, but he also produced excellent flurries, possessed neat footwork, punch placement, was not reckless and his defensive skills frustrated Saunders as the Pennsylvanian prizefighter was unable to cleanly land on Alvarez. When comfortable he had found an opening during a brief Alvarez respite, Saunders threw a couple jabs and right hands but just couldn’t get through Eleider’s forearms and gloves.

Hookercuts sliced through Saunders’ guard in round four as Alvarez’s dominance continued. It wasn’t until the fifth round, though, where Saunders had his best moments as he forced Alvarez into taking backward steps as he sent solitary orthodox jabs into his opponent’s nose in an almost robotic and routine fashion. Saunders also showed more activity in round six. Alvarez was occupied with movement around the ring periphery and, when he attempted to fire a three punch combination, Saunders exploited his open temple by denting it with a right hook.

A 2008 Olympian, Alvarez was back to his confident best in round seven. His double-jab returned and so too did the accurate combination work. Finishing the round emphatically, Alvarez roused the crowd with a powerful flurry as Saunders was caught repeatedly.

Alvarez, who had never been past six rounds, took the fight to Saunders in the eighth, picking up where he had left off in the seventh. For a man with the word ‘War’ printed on his seat, Saunders was just too timid when it came to trading and was nearly out-thrown by Alvarez by a ratio of three to one throughout the contest, however, he took Alvarez into unfamiliar terrain as went an eight round distance for the first time in his still burgeoning career.

Alvarez walked away the clear winner and, with the victory, rose to 8-0-0, 5ko. Saunders dropped down to 22-16-2, 9ko.

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