Saul "Canelo" Alvarez is coming off the first loss of his career. It was a comprehensive defeat at the hands of Floyd Mayweather Jr. and showed there's still some work to do before he reaches boxing's peak. Beating Alfredo Angulo would help him get moving back in the right direction.
Alvarez was viewed as a potential threat to Mayweather after racking up a 42-0-1 record in his first 43 bouts. Instead, he was outclassed for a majority of the fight as the undefeated American picked up his 45th straight win in routine fashion.
It was a learning experience for the 23-year-old Mexican rising star. He did well to survive all 12 rounds, and there were moments where he was able to hang with the five-division world champion. But he must find a way to box more aggressively when he faces top competition.
A matchup with Angulo, a countryman, should be a good test.
Alvarez is undoubtedly the favorite, but the underdog has a little added motivation. Lem Satterfield of The Ring magazine passed along comments for Angulo, who talked about the importance of the fight for Mexico:
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.
It's a huge fight for Mexico, and it's a huge fight for Canelo and me. Everyone can have their own opinion on who will win the fight. My fans know what I do in the ring and they know what to expect on Saturday night. My hand will be raised.
Both fighters know this fight is a chance to make a major statement. Alvarez wants to prove he can bounce right back after the Mayweather loss and start ascending the ranks again. Angulo wants to score the high-profile win to give himself a major boost heading into his next bout.
Alvarez weighed in a pound over the original limit, but Dan Rafael of ESPN noted a deal was reached by the sides to keep the fight on schedule, and then Angulo also took advantage of the extra allowed weight:
It should be noted Angulo is also coming off a loss. He was knocked out after a 10-round battle with Erislandy Lara, which saw some heavy punches delivered by both fighters. Lara was knocked down twice but fought back to get the win.
So both Angulo and Alvarez are looking to get back in the win column while also staking their claim to Mexican boxing supremacy.
That said, Alvarez is the fighter most people will be watching. He has the talent to become the next boxing superstar capable of drawing in mainstream fans, and the loss to Mayweather didn't change that promising outlook.
If he loses to Angulo, however, things may begin to change. Not only because he will have lost two straight fights, but also due to the fact that he would have lost a fight he should have won. That wasn't the case when he faced Mayweather.
So there's an added incentive for Canelo. If he wants to continue in his role as one of the sport's brightest young stars, these are the type of fights he must win. It could become a brawl, which lessens his margin for error, but he should be prepared to go on the attack, something he didn't do enough last time out.
Above all else, Alvarez needs a convincing reputation to re-establish himself as a promising star on the rise.