Canelo vs. Angulo: Odds and Round-by-Round Predictions for Saturday's Fight
It's official. Showtime is back in the Saul "Canelo" Alvarez business.
Six months after the 23-year-old Mexican redhead dropped a decision in his 43rd pro fight—one that wound up as the highest-grossing pay-per-view boxing event ever—he returns to the network's PPV arm with a 154-pound scrap against fellow Mexican tough guy Alfredo Angulo.
And if the whole scenario reminds you a little of the Manny Pacquiao vs. Brandon Rios scrap on another network a few months back, well...it ought to. Like its adversary HBO with the multi-divisional Filipino champion, Showtime is banking that Alvarez's return will provide an automatic boost back into the land of megafight relevance.
Canelo's opponent on Saturday at the MGM Grand—though accomplished and respectable, as Rios was in November—was no doubt selected as much for an ability to accentuate Alvarez's positives as he was for the likelihood that he'll win the fight.
Angulo, like Rios before him last fall, was defeated in his last outing before landing the supporting role on the subsequent marquee, and his presumed main task on Saturday is to provide a recognizable and moderately competitive speed bump before eventually stepping aside to allow for Canelo's money shot.
Date: Saturday, March 8, 2014
Time: Showtime PPV starts at 9 p.m. ET; main event around 11 p.m. ET
Venue: MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada
Odds: Alvarez (-800), Angulo (+500)
Note: Odds provided by Bet365.com and correct as of 3/2/2014 at 1 p.m. ET; subject to change
Say what you will about Angulo and his track record—he's lost to the best fighters he's been in with—but he doesn't go through motions in the ring.
The determined 31-year-old was in Alvarez's face from the opening bell, pressing forward to find out just how much rust had piled onto Canelo's chassis since the one-sided go-round with Floyd Mayweather Jr. in the same Las Vegas venue.
Neither he nor Alvarez landed any game-changing shots in the first three minutes, but they did show the crowd on hand that it was going to be titillating, rather than tedious, for as long as it lasts.
Alvarez had indicated in the pre-fight run-up that he was considering employing a more technique-oriented strategy against a legitimately strong 154-pound opponent, and that approach was on display in the second round after a more roughhousing first.
Canelo strafed Angulo with several hard jabs and mixed in a straight right at the halfway mark that briefly stopped his foe in his tracks. And while the footwork along with the glove work was hardly Mayweather-esque in artistic impression, it did show a clear difference in skill sets with "El Perro."
Angulo wore an emblem of the round while marching back to his corner: a small abrasion below his right eye.
People anticipating their early round-of-the-year candidate got it in the third, which kicked off strong when Angulo took a pair of hard right hands before ripping back with two hooks of his own after 45 seconds.
Alvarez answered with body work and moved his man back to the ropes, where they exchanged in a spirited back and forth. Each man planted his head on the other's shoulder and winged away.
An Angulo uppercut snapped Alvarez's head back and drew a smile and a head shake from Canelo. The gesture indicated that he was both unhurt and relishing the fact that his quarry was right in front of him and willing to exchange, unlike the frustrating bull vs. matador session with Mayweather in September.
As was the case in his losing effort against Erislandy Lara in June, Angulo's face began showing effects of the scrap in the fourth, which began with his right eye looking puffier than it had at any previous point in the fight.
Also, Alvarez went back to the body work that he'd begun in earnest along the ropes in the third, and while the action was still back and forth, it became evident that his shots to the belly were forcing Angulo to make a particular effort to guard his middle.
Alvarez scored big with a chopping right hand at 2:15 that prompted an Angulo clinch. The hard shot was enough to claim the round.
More fireworks in the early stages of the fifth left the Showtime announce team berserk, particularly the easily excitable Mauro Ranallo, who sounded ready for liftoff amid a center-ring exchange that was punctuated by a left to the body/right to the head combo from Alvarez that wobbled Angulo.
The underdog was clearly being impacted by the body blows and, for the first time, seemed more intent on avoiding and blunting Alvarez's shots rather than answering back with significant offense of his own.
Things settled down in the final minute as Alvarez again pumped his jab and kept his distance, working on Angulo's gradually angrier-looking right eye.
Revved by the between-rounds exhortation of trainer Virgil Hunter that he had to "show (Alvarez) you're a man," Angulo charged across the ring and immediately began winging shots to blunt the previous round's momentum shift in Canelo's direction.
It worked well for the first third of the round, before Alvarez punctuated a back-and-forth combination with another left to the body that caused Angulo to wince and double over. Sensing a real opening, Alvarez followed with another hook to the head and a follow-up right that drove his man back to the ropes.
Two more body shots prompted Angulo to take a knee and an eight count with 45 seconds to go in the round, and Canelo quickly went back to work. He landed a left to the jaw as Angulo tried a right of his own, sending El Perro down on his side for the second knockdown of the round.
He rose unsteadily on the count of seven and was clearly dazed as referee Tony Weeks tried to gauge his condition. The ref officially waved off the proceedings with nine seconds to go—resulting in Angulo's third stoppage loss in his last five fights.
Official result: Alvarez TKO at 2:51 of Round 6
Eighteen minutes of violence later, and it's Canelo's world once again.
The grinding, essentially one-sided victory was exactly what Golden Boy Promotions and Showtime were looking for from their Mexican meal ticket, and the result immediately began the endless chatter of "what comes next" for the proven box-office commodity.
While Alvarez dutifully suggested he'd like another audience with Mayweather before the pound-for-pound kingpin winds up his career in 2015, both the announce crew and in-ring man on the street Jim Gray suggested either previous Angulo conqueror Erislandy Lara or new IBF 154-pound champ Jermall Charlo—who defeated Carlos Molina on the undercard—as obvious next targets.
Other possibilities that were kicked around after the interview were the winner of the June showdown at middleweight between a pair of former 154-pound champions in Argentine veteran Sergio Martinez and Puerto Rican slugger Miguel Cotto, as well as IBO/WBA middleweight champ Gennady Golovkin.