WATCH - Saul Alvarez stops Liam Smith with devastating ninth round body shot
Liverpool's Liam Smith lost his WBO light-middleweight title when he was knocked out by Saul 'Canelo' Alvarez in Texas on Saturday night.
Mexico's Alvarez claimed his 28-year-old opponent's crown in the ninth round at the AT&T Stadium, Smith failing to beat the count after being dumped to the canvas by a fierce body shot.
Smith was previously unbeaten and had won his last eight fights by knockout - but that record went with the the Briton's third defence of his title.
Alvarez looked the sharper of the two from the start and although Smith produced a tidy combination with his opponent on the ropes in the fifth, the Briton's prospects were not enhanced by a cut above his right eye.
CANELO STOPS LIAM SMITH WITH A BRUTAL BODY SHOT AND NOW IS THE NEW WBO LIGHT MIDDLEWEIGHT CHAMPION OF THE WORLD!!! pic.twitter.com/ccOtXN3wj8— Strictly Boxing Fans (@BoxingBritain1) September 18, 2016
Smith was in trouble in the second minute of the seventh round when he was dumped to the canvas by two right hooks from the Mexican - and the Briton finished the round on the back foot.
The contest ended two rounds later when Alvarez followed a left hook to the head with a crunching blow into Smith's ribs which sent the Briton to the canvas.
After the defeat, in front of a crowd of more than 51,000, a bloodied Smith said: "My timing was just so off."
The dejected Liverpudlian added: "I was slow and had no timing to even make him think twice. He caught the body shots well."
A delighted Alvarez told the crowd: "I told you I would give you a good fight and win the title.
"In the second round I hurt my right hand, so I had to use my left more. I thought he was very strong at the beginning and felt I had to put the body work in.
"You get great fights when matches fit well - I'm a counter-puncher and I very much enjoyed this fight."
The Mexican, who is now expected to press for a potential fight with WBC, WBA and IBF middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin, said: "I fear no one.
"I was born for this and even though many people may not like it, I'm the best fighter now...we're ready for him (Golovkin).
"I'm 26 years old and I'm the best at this time, long live Mexico."
Alvarez has now beaten four Britons, this success following wins over Matthew Hatton, Ryan Rhodes and - most recently in May - Amir Khan.