Boxing enthusiasts understand that Saturday, March 8 is an important date for the sport as a whole with Saul "Canelo" Alvarez (42-1-1, 30 KO) set to clash with Alfredo "Perro" Angulo (22-3, 18 KO).
The entire card is important and littered with storylines, but the main event between Alvarez and Angulo features one of the sport's most important figures as he seeks redemption.
It was not too long ago that Alvarez was the sport's biggest challenger to Floyd Mayweather, but after a loss to the legend himself, Canelo has to prove once more he is one of the best. As Kevin Iole of Yahoo! Sports breaks down, Canelo is critical to the sport and needs a win:
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.
Fans will want to see this card from start to finish, as the implications loom large on an individual and broad scope.
When: Saturday, March 8 at 9 p.m. ET
Where: MGM Grand in Las Vegas
TV: Showtime Pay-Per-View
Fight Card and Breakdown
Ricardo Alvarez vs. Sergio Thompson
Jorge Linares vs. Nihito Arakawa
Leo Santa Cruz vs. Cristian Mijares
Saul "Canelo" Alvarez vs. Alfredo Angulo
The card has been in a state of flux for quite some time thanks to injuries and other issues. Thanks to a hand injury to Omar Figueroa, Jorge Linares vs. Nihito Arakawa got bumped up, according to ESPN's Dan Rafael:
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
Add in Carlos Molina's arrest, and fans will not get to see his bout against Jermall Charlo.
The silver lining in the card chaos?
Fans now get to see Ricardo Alvarez, Canelo's older brother, take on replacement fighter Sergio Thompson. As Rafael points out, this is a win for spectators:
Why? Thompson is a heavy underdog, but 26 of his 28 victories have come via knockout. One hit is all it takes to give fans a night to remember to kick off the pay-per-view season.
Linares and Arakawa will put on a show, too. The former packs plenty of offensive firepower but is susceptible to a big hit that has seen all three of his losses come via knockout, while the latter has a blend of speed and power with a dash of defense for good measure.
As Showtime's Steve Farhood illustrates, the two have a chance to steal the show:
Linares-Arakawa is an amazing addition to the Canelo PPV undercard this Saturday. What a contrast: Linares so skilled, Arakawa so tough ...— Steve Farhood (@SteveFarhood) March 5, 2014
That ends the sleeper potential on the card, as the bout between Leo Santa Cruz and Cristian Mijares is the definition of lopsided. Santa Cruz is heavily favored as one of the sport's rising stars, while Mijares is on the downswing of his career at 32 years old and has little chance to emerge the WBC super bantamweight champion after the card's lone title bout.
But about that main event, which holds the balance of Canelo's future stock, and perhaps the sport's overall, in its palm.
For Canelo, the fight is simply a chance to get back on track, as he told the media recently according to Rafael, via ABC News:
"I'm just looking forward to getting back in the ring and getting back on that victory road," Alvarez said.
It runs a bit deeper for Canelo, who was simply outclassed by Mayweather in his last bout. The 23-year-old Mexican star is often billed as the next big thing, so a letdown against Angulo will spell doom for his stock and rob the sport of a much-needed superstar in the pipeline.
Angulo is no pushover thanks to his immense power, although his plodding ways may subject him to an uncanny amount of punishment. Perro, just like the fans, would love nothing more than to see this fight turn into a fireworks show where both fighters exchange heavy punches until one succumbs to the damage.
While that sort of exchange is an outside possibility, Canelo is a tactician in the ring and has a chance to fend off violent advances while picking and choosing his spots. Regardless of the end result, the real winners of a somewhat impromptu card are the fans and the sport.