Well, it was supposed to be an action packed and fan friendly fight, but it was anything but. Former junior middleweight title holder Saul “Canelo” Alvarez 43-1-1 (31) took apart and thoroughly dismantled former title holder Alfredo Angulo 22-4 (18) this past weekend.
Going into the bout most observers knew that Alvarez is an elite contender and championship worthy fighter, and that Angulo is a tough but limited walk-in style mauler. It's just that no one really thought the gap between them was nearly as pronounced as it turned out to be in the ring when they met.
It was a totally one-sided fight, but it was an interesting one. In short, Angulo did just enough to keep Alvarez from literally walking through him while at the same time he couldn't have accommodated Canelo more perfectly from a style and tactical vantage point. Even to the point to where his toughness gave Alvarez a chance to shine because Angulo didn't fold or pack it in when Alvarez got off some of his best offensive weaponry against him.
He took it, tried to neutralize it, and then trudged forward into the fire more and afforded Alvarez an opportunity to give boxing fans a reason to forget about his poor showing in his last bout versus Floyd Mayweather. Alvarez took charge from the very first punch and really did whatever he wanted to offensively and at will during the early rounds. He showed that he was clearly too strong and polished for Angulo. Then he took his foot off the gas a little and let Angulo push the fight and just counter-punched. During the few times Angulo started to build a little steam, Alvarez would either shove him back or elbow him back. Alvarez is a smart fighter and better defensively, excluding the Mayweather fight, than he gets credit for being. He's not a great puncher but he is very accurate and lands his finishing punches very flush and clean.
Canelo's sound fundamentals, structure and form were never better or more on display than they were versus Angulo this past weekend. His quicker hands and beautiful punch placement kept Angulo a step behind and stymied. The only time Angulo could get a little offense going is when Alvarez was taking a breather and looking to reset. Whether it was inside or outside or in between punches, Alvarez was able to get off so much better and more purposefully. Whereas Angulo was somewhat fishing for a place in the ring where he held a morsel of an advantage, but it simply wasn't there. Alvarez's high guard with his elbows tucked nice and tightly to his body made it virtually impossible for a fighter with a very unimaginative offense to ever get unstuck and out of the mud. Alvarez, is the type of fighter that if you don't hit him cleanly with the first shot and give him something to think about, he's great at setting up his full repertoire. He also worked the head and body beautifully, and when he started his combos to the body he opened Angulo up to the head practically every time. And every single time Angulo looked to gain a little momentum, Alvarez unloaded with a barrage of hooks and uppercuts as Angulo tried to slowly inch his way in.
If that weren't enough for Angulo to deal with – he also cooperated with Alvarez by making a terrible mistake during the fight strategically, and that is he fought in no mans land. By that I mean he didn't put real pressure on Alvarez, he just walked to him and kept himself perfectly in Alvarez's punching range without ever making him miss or rush his shots. If Alvarez could've sent Angulo a note on what he could do for him in order to insure the fight not only went his way, but would also enable him to look like a world beater in the process, Canelo would've said, “Alfredo, walk to me and present yourself as a nice squared up target, but don't pressure me and force me to have to react. Stay right there so I can hit you on the way in and then I can step off to one side or the other and be out of the way of what you are gonna send back at me.”
And sadly, Angulo established that pattern and he made Canelo look like the most proficient and polished fighter you've ever seen. As a result referee Tony Weeks stopped the fight 47 seconds into the 10th round. Some booed the decision and thought it was a quick stoppage, but it didn't really matter because Angulo's trainer was going to stop it before the round was over. He knew that his fighter was taking a ceaseless pummeling and all was lost at that point.
It's obvious that Alvarez is fun to watch offensively when the conditions are perfect, but we already knew that. The question is did we really learn anything from his showing against Angulo that we didn't know before he fought Mayweather? I don't think so. We knew he'd suffer no mental or emotional effects from the bad night he had against Mayweather because Floyd isn't the type of fighter who ruins an opponent after they've touched hands with him. Angulo was the perfect comeback opponent for Alvarez stylistically and even temperamentally, and Canelo did what he was supposed to do, beat Angulo conclusively. Other than his record having a blemish in the loss column, he's the same fighter, with a little more experience than he was when he entered the ring against Mayweather last year.When a fighter has the backing behind him that Alvarez does, and the push is on to transform him into a superstar, you can bet the next few opponents he meets will be perfect for him stylistically too. That's a by-product of having big money and power behind you. As Muhammad Ali used to say, some fighters have “the complexion and connection to get the protection.”
One wonders that as good as Alvarez is, if everything were the same only he had black hair, if he would still be so heavily promoted and comprehensively covered to the degree he is?
Frank Lotierzo can be contacted at GlovedFist@Gmail.com