Active boxers are only as good as their last performance. Once they retire fans reflect on their overall accomplishments and career, but when fighters are still in the game, the boxing community has a very short memory.
Because of this dynamic, Saul "Canelo" Alvarez (42-1-1, 30 KO) is in a tough spot. After suffering the first loss of his career, Canelo must rebound with an impressive win on Saturday night at the MGM Grand against Alfredo "Perro" Angulo (22-3, 18 KO).
Canelo was outclassed by Floyd "Money" Mayweather in September 2013. Even though Mayweather is the pound-for-pound king of the sport, the manner in which he dispatched Canelo made the 23-year-old Mexican star look bad.
Against Angulo, he'll be looking to restore his shine.
On paper, it looks like an easier task, but that doesn't mean it will be an easy fight. Angulo is coming off a loss himself, but he showed well against the slick boxing Erislandy Lara in June 2013. He had dropped Lara twice before a well-placed punch from the Cuban broke Angulo's eye socket and forced him to submit.
Tough as nails, Angulo didn't go down.
He simply turned his back and forced referee Raul Caiz Jr. to call a stop to the fight in the 10th round. At the time of the stoppage, Angulo was up on one scorecard and narrowly trailing on the other two, and Lara was fatigued.
It's impossible to say Angulo would have won the fight, but he had the momentum before Lara rearranged his face.
Angulo's grit and pressure will push Canelo on Saturday night. If nothing else, this bout should be action-packed. Here's how you can catch the fight.
When: Saturday, March 8 at 9 p.m. ET
Where: MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nev.
TV: Showtime Pay-Per-View
The Book on Canelo
It's really unfair for fans to be down on Canelo after losing to Mayweather. After all, the latter is the best fighter in the world. Canelo was at least able to make Mayweather work all 12 rounds. Though it was a clear win for Money, aside from C.J. Ross' inept card (114-114), the pound-for-pound king didn't look as comfortable against Alvarez as he did against Robert Guerrero.
To put it plainly: It wasn't the worst showing Canelo could have had.
Still, boxing is a brutal sport in and out of the ring. No matter how good a fighter is, if the public gets down on them, their opportunities will fade.
In addition to his reputation, Canelo's pride took a significant hit with the loss to Mayweather. Though he has still maintained most of his popularity, his place amongst boxing's elite fighters is nowhere near as solid as it was before the Mayweather fight.
Obviously, he has made a nice living in the sport so far, but at 23 years old, he still has a lot of fight left in him physically. However, the effects on him mentally shouldn't be understated.
The loss to Mayweather was humbling for a young fighter who had enjoyed so much success in his career. Kevin Iole of Yahoo! Sports talked about the impact the loss had on Alvarez's psyche, despite the monetary success and popularity:
A case could be made that Alvarez, and not Manny Pacquiao, is the second-biggest drawing card in boxing.
Like Pacquiao, Alvarez became an idol of millions because of his exciting fighting style. Unlike the Filipino superstar, though, Alvarez also had a bit of a swagger to him.
Against Mayweather, though, Alvarez pressured constantly but lost much of that swagger when he was unable to put his hands on Mayweather.
Putting his hands on his opponent isn't likely to be an issue on Saturday against Angulo. Perro is a pressure fighter who comes into every fight looking for the KO. In 18 of his 25 fights, he's found it.
Canelo knows what to expect from his opponent, and he says he's ready. Speaking to Santos A. Perez of the Miami Herald, Canelo said:
Obviously, he’s a fighter that comes forward, that hits hard, that can take a punch, and that’s what’s going to make the fight live up, and that’s what the people want to see. They want to see action, and that’s what they will see [Saturday], a lot of action.
Can Canelo bounce back against a fighter like this in such an intense environment? Per Showtime Sports, one very notable ex-opponent believes he can:
On Saturday, we'll find out if Canelo can use those tools to restore the aspects of his reputation that have taken a hit.
The Book on Angulo
This fight has an element of desperation and a bit of nastiness as well.
Both fighters are looking to get back on track, but there's a Mexican rivalry and a popularity struggle. Canelo told Douglass Fischer of The Ring Magazine, "I know he [Angulo] doesn't like me, so there's no reason I should like him."
What's the reason for the malice? Angulo told Fischer:
I think that he is a boxer that has had his career handed to him. Canelo hasn't fought anyone aside from Mayweather. I've earned my respect through my fights.
The ole privileged vs. non-privileged angle. It's always a great story line.
Angulo also talked about the cultural significance when speaking with Lem Satterfield of The Ring Magazine. Angulo said:
Every fight is important, but this one is more special because all of the fans in Mexico will know that the winner of this fight is the No. 1 Mexican fighter.
Obviously there is a lot of pride involved with that mythical title, but there's also a ton of potential revenue for the man who holds it. Being the top Mexican fighter in the world means you'll probably become a solid pay-per-view draw and could be in line to fight Mayweather in the next year.
Everyone knows, Money makes everyone he fights money. He also has made a career out of targeting the top Hispanic fighters throughout his career.
How can Angulo reach his goal? Angulo's trainer Virgil Hunter pulled no punches with Fischer:
We'll find out if Canelo can handle Angulo's pressure.
Angulo is great for boxing. He looks like a level boss on a video game. He's rugged, punches hard and has good stamina. That said, he'll be in the ring with a fighter who has more technical boxing skill, faster hands and good power.
He'll have to absorb a lot of punishment from a good fighter to pull the upset. Does he have a puncher's chance? Absolutely, but it's hard to see him beating a motivated and eager to please Canelo.
Alvarez will win by eighth-round TKO.
Follow me. I'm addicted to the Sweet Science.