The Hottest Boxing Storylines for the Week of Mar. 10
Saul "Canelo" Alvarez is back and in a big way.
In this week's edition, we assess all the fallout from this past Saturday's big "Toe-to-Toe" pay-per-view event.
Did the main event live up to the hype?
What's next for Canelo? Could this performance lead to a Mayweather rematch sometime next year?
Then, after turning the clocks ahead an hour this weekend, we turn our eyes ahead to the upcoming action this coming weekend in Puerto Rico.
Will Danny Garcia make a successful homecoming on the island where he traces his roots? And can Deontay Wilder take the next step in his quest to become the next face of the heavyweight division?
All that and more.
These are the hottest boxing storylines for the week of March 10.
Did Canelo vs. Angulo Live Up to the Hype?
Canelo came, he saw and he dominated on Saturday night at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
His win over the extremely rugged and durable Alfredo Angulo was stunningly lopsided, and a faux controversy over a very reasonable stoppage should do nothing to diminish that.
Coming into the fight, the smart money said that Canelo would look to be the boxer and Angulo the puncher who would come forward and press the action.
As soon as the opening bell rang, Canelo threw that logic on its head, attacking Angulo with sharp, crisp combinations and forcing him to back up in order to survive. Few expected that level of aggression from the cinnamon-haired former 154-pound champion, but if the point was to make a statement, you can consider it taken.
Angulo was never able to get any sustained offense going, and that was in large part due to the fact that Canelo was popping him with heavy leather at every opportunity. By Round 10, the Angulo corner—led by veteran trainer and father figure Virgil Hunter—was openly discussing the possibility of stopping the contest.
Referee Tony Weeks took that decision out of their hands, when with just over two minutes remaining in the 10th stanza, Canelo connected with a big uppercut that snapped Angulo's head back. Weeks immediately stepped in, much to the consternation of Angulo, and the booing throngs inside the MGM Grand.
But it's hard to argue the decision on the merits.
Angulo is as tough as they come, but he was being completely dominated and taking huge amounts of unnecessary punishment. Canelo was well on his way to an impressive victory regardless, and putting the almost ludicrously tough "El Perro" through any more seemed pointless.
And the controversy—if there even is one—should do nothing to diminish a huge, deserved win for Canelo and an impressive show of heart and grit from Angulo.
What's Next for Canelo Alvarez?
Canelo did basically everything right on Saturday night.
He didn't just beat Angulo, he dominated him. There was just nothing close about the fight, and it was a good indication that the 23-year-old former champion can respond to and overcome adversity.
After all, he was just about six months removed from the biggest disappointment of his professional career, a lopsided loss to pound-for-pound king Floyd Mayweather in the very same ring in which he pounded Angulo.
So what's next for Canelo?
The most logical course would seem to be getting a belt back around his waist. He was the unified WBA/WBC junior middleweight champion prior to his bout with Mayweather, and with Mayweather moving back down the ladder to 147 pounds, the title picture should once again open up.
But could the bigger fish lie just slightly north in the realm of the 160-pound fighters?
That's a distinct possibility.
WBC middleweight champion Sergio Martinez will defend his lineal crown against former multiweight world champion Miguel Cotto on June in Madison Square Garden, and the possibility of Canelo facing the winner is, to be blunt, a salivating prospect.
Middleweight remains one of the glamour divisions in boxing, and a chance for glory in a neighborhood once ruled by names like Carlos Monzon, "Marvelous" Marvin Hagler and Bernard Hopkins must be enticing for any fighter.
And it must be especially enticing for a young man looking to shed the star label and ascend to the loftier perch of superstar.
More importantly, a win in that bout could also point the compass firmly back in the direction of a hugely lucrative rematch with Mayweather in 2015.
Despite the lopsided nature of their first bout, if Canelo continues to improve—and Saturday was a nice step in that direction—and becomes the kingpin of the middleweight division, a historic rematch could become a legitimate possibility.
In fact, it might become necessary.
Granted, a lot needs to happen between now and then, but the path has been laid out. Everyone just needs to do their share.
Will Danny Garcia Have a Successful Homecoming?
Unified junior welterweight champion Danny Garcia may have been born in Philadelphia, but his roots lie on the boxing-crazed island of Puerto Rico. And the WBC/WBA 140-pound champion will make his—what he hopes will be successful—debut on the island this Saturday night, facing Mauricio Herrera at the Coliseo Ruben Rodriguez in Bayamon.
Garcia, who knocked off Lucas Matthysse in a minor upset on the Mayweather vs. Canelo undercard last September, is seeking to develop a genuine connection with the fans in Puerto Rico, and a spectacular performance on March 15 would go a long way.
Herrera is a solid opponent, but his best days are probably behind him. He's nearing his 34th birthday—in May—and has only posted a 2-2 mark in his last four fights. Both Mike Alvarado and Karim Mayfield outboxed him with relative ease during that stretch, and his two wins came against nondescript opposition.
His biggest claim to fame is probably his January 2011 unanimous-decision win over the now surging WBO junior welterweight champion Ruslan Provodnikov. But that was over three years ago, and it's been downhill since.
Still, can you really fault Garcia for taking this fight?
Herrera is not a soft touch, but he's not nearly as menacing as Matthysse was, and few are going to give him much of a shot to win this fight. But he’s not a bad opponent, and for a showcase, you could do much worse.
Garcia, it would seem, is destined for bigger and better things. One potentially bigger thing is a shot at pound-for-pound king Floyd Mayweather, should both men continue their winning ways into 2015.
The 25-year-old junior welterweight champion says he's not actively chasing that fight, in fact he’s not pursuing anyone, telling Matt Breen of Philly.com:
"I never call anyone out. I stay in my own lane. I work hard. And whoever they put in front of me, I guess that's who gets beat up that day."
It's a nice sentiment, and there's no doubt that Garcia means it, but soon the chorus will grow and the money and fame will become too great to avoid.
But first, he needs to stay focused, not get lost in the moment and take care of business against Herrera on Saturday night.
If not, the conversation ends.
How Will Deontay Wilder Handle Malik Scott's Boxing Ability?
We all know that Wilder can punch. The Tuscaloosa, Ala., native has 30 professional victories, all inside the distance, and has huge stopping power with both hands. But we've never seen him truly tested by a heavyweight who can box effectively, control the distance and—at least in theory—neutralize his huge power shots.
Wilder is still a bit crude and unrefined, but his offensive weapons are devastating when they reach the target, and he'll get a great chance to test his mettle against the awkward Malik Scott on Saturday night in Puerto Rico.
Scott, who was controversially stopped by Dereck Chisora last summer, isn't known for his punching power—just 13 knockouts among his 36 career victories—but he's awkward, likes to box and knows how to control the distance of a fight. Putting it bluntly, he makes it ugly, and he's not easy to hit.
This is a big step up—and in the right direction—for Wilder, and it'll go a long way to showing whether he's a contender or a pretender in an overall weak heavyweight crop. If he can’t handle the boxing prowess of Scott, then heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko isn't even an option.
We know Scott can box, but he has no steam on his punches. There should be nothing available to him that will keep Wilder honest and reluctant, and that should spell doom for the once-beaten 33-year-old Philadelphian.
At some point, Wilder should be able to get inside and land something with serious consequences. But it's incumbent on him to prove that he isn't just a one-trick pony. Power is a great asset to have, but there's got to be something else behind it.
You can't rely on landing a home-run shot in every fight, because somewhere along the line, you'll run into someone who can either handle your power or take it away from you.
In order to win at this level, Wilder will need to show an ability to box a little and not just be a wild gunslinger who launches bombs in hopes of ending the fight quickly. If he can't do that against Scott—who will make him work for what he gets—then he's going to have a hard time reaching the truly elite level of the heavyweight division, currently occupied by only one man—"Dr. Steelhammer" from Ukraine.
Is It Time for Leo Santa Cruz to Step It Up?
Leo Santa Cruz is a dynamo, but it's getting a little frustrating watching him demolish faded former champions who have no realistic hope of victory.
Cristian Mijares, a former two-time super flyweight champion, became the latest victim on Saturday night, and it was apparent before the first three minutes had concluded that we were about to be treated to a gross mismatch.
And that's a real shame, because Santa Cruz is one of the most exciting young fighters in boxing, and he has the potential to a real superstar. But he's not going to get there by feasting on once great fighters like Mijares.
Santa Cruz is only 25 years old, still very young, but he's already considered by most to be the best super bantamweight fighter in the world who isn't Guillermo Rigondeaux. That matchup, however unlikely, would be intriguing, given it would match the pressure-fighting volume puncher in Santa Cruz against the defensive wizard in Rigondeaux.
But, unfortunately, given the continuous rivalry between HBO/Top Rank and Showtime/Golden Boy Promotions, that fight remains nothing more than a pipe dream.
Far more likely would be a summer matchup with undefeated British prospect Carl Frampton.
Frampton, who is scheduled to face what's left of Hugo Cazares in April, would present some interesting stylistic challenges for Santa Cruz, and the fight has the potential to give birth to a brand spanking new star in the lower weight classes.
Either way, even if it's not Frampton, it's time for Leo to step on the gas a bit. He's got the talent and the style, but please, no more showcase mismatches against fighters with no shot.