Canelo vs Smith Undercard: Sadam Ali vs Corral, Vergil Ortiz Jr vs Hernandez, Tanajara vs Garcia
BY KID HERSH
From Jerry Jones's AT&T Stadium in Arlington Texas came a big PPV bout as Saul Canelo Alvarez dropped back down to 154lbs to fight the undefeated WBO champion from Liverpool Liam Smith on the big day known as Mexican Independence Day.
First up on the free televised undercard was Roy Garcia (3-19-1, 2KO's) vs Hector Tanajara Jr (6-0, 4KO's). We had the treat of Hall of Famers Colonel Bob Sheridan and Larry Merchant doing the podcast. Even they mentioned that on paper it wasn't looking too good with his record but that he was in the sport because he loved it so much. The first round was indeed interesting for Garcia and we got something different from him in the first round as I thought I was literally seeing a dancer in the ring the first round as he showed some footwork but was not punching and clearly on the move to just get away from the hard punching Tanajara who hit him every time he got the chance. Tanajara got in some seemingly lucky right hands but unfortunately it was all too obvious that he could not do anything to the young 19 year old in front of him who was stronger and faster and more skilled. My only concern is exactly what Merchant pointed out; does Tanajara have a punch? He has good mechanics and good skills but he should have bene able to take out the opponent in front of him tonight. But, on the flip side, Sheridan pointed out that Garcia while not skilled is tough and comes to fight not lay down. Tanajara won the UD and looked good but not thrilling.
Next up was highly touted prospect Vergil Ortiz Jr (1-0, 1KO) vs Ernesto Hernandez (1-3, 1KO). Ortiz got a crushing knockout with the first right hand that he threw - I literally cringed after seeing it. YIKES. That was a devastating shot that "crunched" home.
Next up was Sadam Ali (22-1, 13KO's) vs Saul Corral (21-7, 12KO's). As Merchant pointed out; it is unusual that a fighter of Ali's calibre is fighting on the "under undercard" - and heck, I did not even know he was on this fight card! Wow, big step back but it's good he is keeping active. Ali looked the more experienced veteran in the first round, which he of course is. He used his speed while stepping forward a little at a time to get in range and fire punches home on Corral, who was mostly covering up. This continued through the coming rounds, with Ali seeming to shake off ring rust around the third round as he started to pivot around Corral and move his head more to show slick defense. In the fourth round Ali hurt Corral with a left hook early in the round. He followed it up and got into a firefight with Corral as it seemed to me that Corral was not really hurt but Ali is going for it. he got caught with some good punches but landed a right hand to the exposed chin of Corral that put him down about a minute into the round. Corral rose and again did not look as hurt as Ali thought he was because the two got into more firefights throughout the round and Ali was gassing himself out by the end of the round from loading up on punches for the knockout in the high energy round. Corral showed great heart as he came forward in the fifth round and was really trying to turn the fight around by pressuring and throwing more punches. Ali fought off the back foot and likely won the round but it was a spirited effort by the losing man. Ali took the reins back in the sixth round as he stood his ground and planted his feet and landed more power shots - namely right hands that thudded home and stopped any momentum that Corral had going from the last round. Corral continued pressing through the remainder of the fight and clipping Ali with punches here and there but overall was still getting outpointed and simply did not have the firepower to change the fight. Ali would win the wide, nearly shutout decision. He looked ok - not really thrilling at all here but he was perhaps shaking some rust off and getting back into the groove of things after the first loss (and devastating at that) of his career. He still is too straight up and easy to hit but he is what he is at this point and he is fast and athletic with a skill set so he has more to offer yet.