Fight Preview & Pick – Canelo vs. Angulo:
On March 8 in Las Vegas, 154-pounders and fellow Mexican boxing stars Saul “Canelo” Alvarez and Alfredo “El Perro” Angulo will duke it out in a high-stakes crossroads match-up. Both men are big names in the sport, but coming off losses. If anything were to rouse their spirits, it would be this–an all-Mexican battle where the winner likely poises himself for future mega-bucks fights in a talent-laden junior middleweight division.
- Date: March 8, 2014
- Site: MGM Grand Casino, Las Vegas, Nevada
- Weight Class: Junior Middleweight (154 Pounds): 12 Rounds
Saul “Canelo” Alvarez, 42-1-1 (30 KOs), Jalisco, Mexico
Alfredo “El Perro” Angulo, 22-3 (18 KOs), Mexicali, Mexico/Coachella, California
Argue with the oddsmakers as you may, there are reasons why Alvarez is a -900 (9/1) favorite. With all due respect to Angulo, he doesn’t appear to be the same guy who was on the brink of really big things in 2010. He was a huge draw in southern California and peaking as as fighter with a slew of early knockouts littering his impressive record. Then he went through a harrowing ordeal over immigration issues that kept him sidelined for a long time. He tuned up with a win upon his return before getting stopped in an enthralling war with James Kirkland. A tougher-than-expected win over Jorge Silva followed, before “El Perro” found himself in another battle with Erislandy Lara, whom he floored twice before succumbing in the 10th round.
On one hand, he nearly had Kirkland out of there and gave Lara major problems. That paints the losses in a different light perhaps, but he doesn’t look like the same fighter in my humble assessment. He is not quite as sharp or durable as he was before being forced into mothballs. Not that he was ever terribly fluid, but he seems stiffer now and his defense and punch-anticipation have that stale look that you see with fighters who have passed their expiration dates. It’s difficult to envision 2009 Angulo letting Kirkland off the hook, or even the supremely-skilled Lara for that matter.
Still, Angulo is a dangerous guy with all the heart in the world. You know what kind of heartfelt effort you’re going to get with Angulo in every fight. Looking back at his career years from now, Angulo knows this will be the fork-in-the-road fight that determined the remaining course of his career. He is a man with a lot of pride, coming into a nationalistic match-up with everything on the line. If Angulo were to ever spring back to life, it would have to be now.
Alvarez faces some of the same issues after the demoralizingly-lopsided decision loss he suffered to Floyd Mayweather. “Canelo” may benefit from the sentiment that losing to a clear number one pound for pound fighter in the sport is nothing in which to be ashamed. That doesn’t mean he can afford to absorb another loss. Beyond that, he just needs something to cut into the stink of his last fight, which was a disappointment any way you want to slice it. His stock went down at least a tick, so while Angulo may be facing a make-or-break moment, this is something more than just another fight for Alvarez.
Eight years Alvarez’ senior at 31, Angulo can’t match Canelo in terms of energy. Though he has nearly twice as many fights, Alvarez is a far fresher fighter, sporting legs that are springy in contrast to the now-wooden wheels of Angulo. But let’s face it, even the current version of Angulo can get to a fighter like Alvarez, who isn’t the hardest guy to find. While he’s more refined and fundamentally sound than Angulo, he will give opponents some offensive opportunities. As they say, the last thing to leave a fighter’s arsenal is power.
Kirkland is as dangerous as they come at 154 pounds and Lara is considered the supreme technician at this weight. Against those very different styles, it’s not like Angulo lost by a country mile. In addition, and this may be harsh on Alvarez, but there is a hint that his career is a bit of a mirage. His status as a celebrity probably outshines his star as a fighter. His resume, while impressive, is built on mostly fading big names. His best win is probably over Austin Trout, who while a very good fighter, is probably a slight grade below elite-status.
Maybe Angulo’s perceived deterioration is not what it seems. Maybe Alvarez isn’t the fighter he’s been cracked up to be. If both of those things are true, this could be a real humdinger, a far closer fight than what many would forecast. But again, it looks like Team Alvarez has calculatingly chosen an opponent with a good name who is past his prime. Not that there is anything wrong with that. Angulo is still a tough fight coming back for Canelo. It’s a potentially-dangerous test for the young Mexican star. It’s still a fight he should win against a fighter who has been stopped twice in his last four fights.
Canelo vs. Angulo Prediction
This might not be a breeze for Alvarez. If he lays in the trenches too long to appease the fans and prove his machismo, he could get drilled by Angulo. It’s just that Alvarez has more “on the ball” than Angulo, who wishes this fight was 3-4 years ago. Time hasn’t been kind to Angulo, while it has helped Alvarez. And as much of a speed differential that there was between Alvarez and Mayweather, the contrast may be even starker between Canelo and Angulo. With superior speed, pep, and sharpness, Alvarez will steer clear of drama for the most part en route to an 8th-round TKO, possibly as a result of cuts or swelling.
Prediction: Saul “Canelo” Alvarez wins by 8th-round TKO.