Saul “Canelo” Alvarez (43-1-1, 31 KOs) dominated Alfredo “El Perro” Angulo (22-4, 18 KOs) Saturday night at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nev., battling the hapless slugger around the ring from the opening bell until the end of things in Round 10.
The bout was mercifully stopped there by referee Tony Weeks after Alvarez ripped Angulo with a hard left uppercut to the chin, popping Angulo’s head up in the air like a jack-in-the-box with a loose spring.
The win proved Alvarez, 23, still has a bright future in the sport of boxing, even after being dismantled by pound-for-pound king Floyd Mayweather last year at the same venue.
Against Angulo, Alvarez was a different fighter. He looked strong, sharp and determined. He fought smart, brave and even displayed deft defense against a good puncher and solid offensive fighter.
He said after the fight, via USA Today's Bob Velin, "We obviously did our homework. We knew his style and that the right hand would connect often."
There were some questions coming into the bout about Alvarez’s future. Sure, the kid was the favorite in the fight according to oddsmakers and pundits. But the crowd that piled into the seats on fight night told a different story. He wasn't their favorite. Not all of them. People didn’t just come to see Alvarez the way they may have come to his fights before.
Was the shine of Alvarez’s star already wearing off? Had Mayweather extinguished it?
The barking in the arena for Angulo was as loud as the chant for Canelo right from the start. The crowd was split right down the middle according to those in attendance, and the Showtime pay-per-view telecast indicated the same thing for those watching the fight at home.
Both Mexican fighters had one half of the crowd in their corner:
The atmosphere was thick with excitement before the opening bell, perhaps a product of the restlessness a listless undercard imbued into the spectators.
Or maybe everyone somehow forgot how big a star Alvarez was before the Mayweather debacle until right before the main event. Even the bigwig boxing media was impressed, the one’s that travel everywhere and see everything:
Alvarez’s punches looked stronger than ever against Angulo. Was it the weight? The kid had a half-pound advantage at the weigh-in on Friday, a product of his even larger advantage of being the A-side of the promotion. Like many before him, he used that power to dictate terms in the bout right up until the day before the fight.
Knowing ahead of time that he would not be able to make the 154-pound junior middleweight weight limit, Alvarez negotiated an increase in the contract weight to 155 pounds. According to ESPN’s Dan Rafael, Alvarez agreed to pay Angulo an additional $100,000 for the trouble of it all.
But Alvarez’s weight advantage grew by fight night. What was once half a pound turned into four by the time the bell rang:
Canelo weighs 174 in the ring. Angulo is 170— Kevin Iole (@KevinI) March 9, 2014
No matter what made his fists so thunderous, they were, and Alvarez knew it from the start. He came out in Round 1 throwing hard power punches in combinations. It worked. Angulo was soon fighting off his back foot and could not get leverage on this punches.
Round 2 was similar, though Angulo was able to hold his ground and land a few punches of his own. The two stood in front of each other for all of Round 3. Each had his moments, but Alvarez staggered Angulo with his stinging punches to sweep the first three rounds easily.
Alvarez changed his approach a bit in Round 4. He picked his shots for a distance and moved backward, boxing for the first time in the bout but still leaping into the fray on occasion to land vicious hooks and uppercuts.
But Angulo made his mark in the fourth, too. He threw quick and fast punches, augmenting them with hard, devastating shots that had to have shaken Alvarez’s brain around his skull.
Round 5 was Angulo’s first experience at prolonged success in the fight, and it turned out to be his last. The final minute of the round was all El Perro. He landed punches in bunches and had Alvarez moving away from him looking haggard.
But Round 6 was all Alvarez again, as was the next.
In Round 8, the two put on a show. Alvarez stood in the pocket daring Angulo to hit him. For the first part, he was correct to do so. Angulo was obliged to throw, but Alvarez blocked and parried them away like a defensive wizard.
Then it changed.
The last part of the round was straight machismo. The two men went at each other like all-time great sluggers. This moment was akin to great Mexican wars of the past like the Erik Morales vs. Marco Antonio Barrera trilogy.
But unlike those battles, this one was one-sided for every other minute.
Round 9 was mostly Alvarez having his way, and referee Tony Weeks had seen enough of Angulo’s head roaring back in anguish to stop the bout after the first hard punch of Round 10.
The win put Alvarez right back where he wants to be. Already ranked near the top of the Transnational’s junior middleweight rankings, Alvarez also proved he is a legit force in a sport that’s driven by big-money superstars.
Alvarez most certainly is one of those, and he’ll continue to be so. He’s skilled, determined and one of the better looking young fighters in the sport today.
The future for Alvarez is as bright as he wants it to be, so long as the glitz and glamour of stardom keeps him hungry and angry enough to fight the way he did against Angulo.
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