After a disappointing loss in his last outing, Cannonier returned to form on Saturday night with a powerful striking arsenal that dropped Gastelum to the ground during an early exchange and he just continued to dish out a savage combination of strikes until the final horn sounded. While Gastelum had his moments and survived to the end, Cannonier had done more damage, which helped him secure the unanimous decision victory with all three judges scoring the fight 48-47 in his favor.
“It’s always glorious to go five rounds with a guy like Kelvin at that level,” Cannonier said following the win. “So winning is even more glorious if you will so I’m happy. I’m not too happy I didn’t get that finish.”
In a game of speed versus power, Cannonier was loading up with his strikes and throwing with fire behind his punches while Gastelum was tossing out fast combinations and also displaying very strong footwork.
While Cannonier was doing a good job avoiding Gastelum’s strikes in the early going with really effective side-to-side movement, he was beginning to slow down towards the latter half of the second round.
That allowed Gastelum to throw much more deliberate strikes, which started to connect with bigger pop behind his punches while also mixing in some solid inside leg kicks.
Just when it appeared that Gastelum was possibly seizing control, Cannonier unloaded a huge right hook that dropped the former middleweight title contender to the canvas. Gastelum was quick to get back to his feet as Cannonier was immediately in his face trying to follow up on the knockdown.
To his credit, Gastelum never gave an inch after recovering as he started putting pressure on Cannonier and making the former heavyweight stay nimble on his feet while defending his combinations.
As the fight moved into the championship rounds, Cannonier was once again looking for that same right hook but ended up connecting with several hard shots in consecutive order as he pressed Gastelum against the cage. Gastelum avoided taking too much damage before then grabbing onto the body lock in order to force Cannonier to defend a takedown to slow him down.
Still, Cannonier was really starting to time his opponent’s movement, which then allowed him to throw punches every time Gastelum stepped forward to engage. In return, Cannonier was uncorking his uppercuts, which were consistently catching Gastelum flush and forcing him to react from the staggering shots.
After the fight ended, Cannonier had seemingly dished out more punishment than he received, which made the scoring seem a little easier on the judges and now he’ll go home with another win on his resume.
Following a 10-month layoff between fights after falling to ex-champ Robert Whittaker last October, Cannonier seemed anxious to earn another paycheck, although ideally he’d like to just go ahead and get a title shot sooner rather than later.
“I’m broke so I need to fight,” Cannonier said. “Hopefully I get that title shot. The right name might make me say yes.”