The last time Saul "Canelo" Alvarez stepped in the ring, it was ugly. He will hope that things go better in his upcoming match against Alfredo Angulo.
After starting his career off with a 42-0-1 record, Alvarez got the honor of stepping into the ring with Floyd Mayweather. However, the best pound-for-pound boxer in the world had little trouble dodging and counter-punching before winning by a majority decision.
Alvarez will now try to bounce back with his next match against Angulo, who is coming off a loss as well against Erislandy Lara. Angulo had his opponent on the ground twice in the match, but he could not finish him off.
While these fighters will battle for redemption in the main event, there are a few other big-time matchups set to take place in an exciting undercard in this pay-per-view.
The list of competitors has changed due to various circumstances, but it will still create an interesting night of boxing action. Here is a look at previews and predictions for all of the matchups on the main card.
Who will win?
When: Saturday, March 8 at 9 p.m. ET
Where: MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nev.
TV: Showtime Pay-Per-View
Ricardo Alvarez vs. Sergio Thompson
The original plan was for Ricardo Alvarez—Canelo's older brother—to battle Omar Figueroa for the lightweight title. Unfortunately, a hand injury forced Figueroa to pull out, but he was replaced at the last minute by Sergio Thompson, according to Dan Rafael of ESPN.com.
While this is a disappointment for Alvarez, he cannot just go out and expect a win against an inferior opponent. "Yeyo" Thompson is coming off a first-round knockout over Cesar Chavez in a match that seemed to take less time than the introductions.
Thompson has earned a knockout in 26 of his 28 career victories, and he will look to add to that total in this match.
The difference is Alvarez has better discipline than many of the previous opponents and he will be able to stay out of the way of Yeyo's bigger punches. Alvarez will then use his sound technique to stay on top of the scorecards and come away with a close decision.
Prediction: Alvarez wins by SD
Jorge Linares vs. Nihito Arakawa
This match was not supposed to be part of the PPV, but the injury to Figueroa bumped it up to the main card:
Richard Schaefer told me 135 titlist Omar Figueroa is injured & off next week's @SHOsports PPV. Linares-Arikawa will replace it on the PPV.— Dan Rafael (@danrafaelespn) March 1, 2014
Additionally, the arrest of Carlos Molina forced officials to cancel the fight against Jermall Charlo.
While fans are losing a title fight, they are gaining a bout that should be among the best of the night. Both boxers are extremely aggressive and they will create plenty of fireworks in the ring.
Jorge Linares gave his own preview of the match, via Rafael:
It's difficult to knock [Arakawa] down, but it's not impossible. He certainly won't fall with one punch, and that's why I've prepared for 10 rounds of action. I think there is a better chance that the ref stops this fight than it ending in one punch. I'm going to break him down little by little.
Linares has the talent to do just that with his great combination of quickness and power. He will avoid the big hits from Arakawa and use his defensive ability to gain the advantage in almost every round.
The only thing to watch for is the potential of a knockout, which has led to all three of Linares' losses. Whether it is a lack of focus or simply a weak chin, the truth remains that the Venezuelan can go down at any time.
However, it seems like he has learned from his past experiences and is ready to finish the match with a win.
Prediction: Linares wins by UD
Leo Santa Cruz vs. Cristian Mijares
Through 27 career matches, Leo Santa Cruz continues to look the part of a future star in the sport. He is undefeated with only an early draw ruining perfection, and he has started to face tougher competition over the past few years.
The problem is this match does not qualify as one of those tough battles.
Cristian Mijares certainly has plenty of talent and his experience will take him a long way. However, he is now 32 years old and does not have the same speed as the old days. On the other hand, Santa Cruz is just entering his prime and has proven to be a relentless fighter in the ring.
The defending WBC super bantamweight champion will create a lot of damage with his punches, which he can throw in a hurry. Luis Sandoval of BoxingScene.com agrees that this will be an easy win:
I maybe alone on this one but I think Santa Cruz beats Mijares pretty soundly.— Luis Sandoval (@truewest007) March 5, 2014
According to OddsShark.com, Santa Cruz opened as a -1429 favorite, meaning you would make less than one dollar for every $14 you bet. This tells you everything you need to know about what should be a one-sided battle.
Prediction: Santa Cruz wins by UD
Saul "Canelo" Alvarez vs. Alfredo Angulo
Finally we get to the main event, a bout that Alvarez has likely been hoping to get over with since his defeat at the hands of Mayweather.
According to Tim Dahlberg of the Associated Press (via ABC News), the Mexican star discussed moving on from his previous loss in a press conference:
I learned a lot from fighting Floyd, but I'm ready to get back in the ring to maintain the path that I was on before. This is what I love to do. ...What happened in September is in the past. I'm fully concentrated on this fight.
With a win, Canelo will be able to put his previous loss in the past. Fortunately, he has the advantage in this matchup in almost every category from technical speed to skill and even experience with more fights under his belt.
Still Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated notes that the favorite cannot overlook Angulo:
Hope Canelo is taking Angulo seriously. What Angulo lacks in skill he makes up for with relentless pressure and crushing power.— Chris Mannix (@ChrisMannixSI) March 7, 2014
Although it is true that Angulo's power can catch Alvarez by surprise, he will not be able to do enough damage over the course of the bout, and he will leave himself too vulnerable to last all 12 rounds.
Prediction: Alvarez wins by TKO in 10
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