Saul "Canelo" Alvarez 42-1-1 (30) is returning to the ring after being taken to boxing school last September by pound-for-pound champ Floyd Mayweather.
Alvarez, age 23, will meet the always aggressive but somewhat limited Alfredo Angulo 22-3 (18) on March 8th at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas Nevada. In his last fight Angulo, age 31, was stopped by Cuban sensation Erislandy Lara in the 10th round. Lara is an outstanding fighter who's only setback came against Paul Williams back in 2011 via a 12-round majority decision.
As most know the better fight on a technical level would be Alvarez vs. Lara. I'm not sure who I'd pick to win that one. What I do know is, Angulo fought well against Lara in a losing effort and unless he walks into something blindly, he should give Alvarez a good go in what should be a very fan friendly fight from start to finish. The biggest concern regarding Angulo when he's fighting a good technician is he gets hit so cleanly and he wasn't blessed with the most durable chin. Keeping that in mind, it'll also probably be a pretty physical fight, and in that regard you have to lean toward Alvarez.
Granted, as we saw against Mayweather, Alvarez isn't a life-taker when it comes to punching power. He did get through to Mayweather with some of his best left hooks and Floyd never even seemed bothered or changed his expression much. However, when Shane Mosley and Miguel Cotto caught Mayweather with their Sunday best, Mosley almost put him to sleep and Cotto did force Floyd to at least break off the exchange and have to reset. However, what Alvarez may lack in being a devastating puncher, he possesses the one weapon that makes up for that, and that's accuracy, good punch placement. If he can be first in initiating most of the exchanges, he will most likely control the fight and eventually set the always willing Angulo up for a possibly memorable finish.
I doubt that Canelo will suffer any ill effects from the Mayweather fight. Floyd isn't the type of fighter who ruins you mentally or physically after you fight him. What he does best is convince you very succinctly over the course of 12-rounds that he's better than you and there's nothing that he did to you during the bout that happened by accident. But it's not like he beats his opponents in a way that after touching hands with him they begin to question whether or not they want to fight again. In fact Alvarez barely seemed disturbed during the post fight interview in the ring. It was more or less an acknowledgement that Floyd is in a different league than he is as a fighter and he may never again confront another boxer like him again during his career.
What did bother me about Alvarez later after the fight is when he said, "I went into that fight with a strategy on how to win, and we all believed the game plan was solid. We thought he'd stand and fight more, like he did when he fought Miguel Cotto, but he didn't do that. It surprised us. It was difficult to adjust."
That is a little perplexing because he's not being honest with himself. Perhaps that is his way of justifying why he was beaten so lopsidedly. But let's be honest, Mayweather didn't run from Alvarez, not at all. Actually, he fought him pretty similarly to the way he fought Cotto - basically he stood his ground a lot and out-boxed them both from the waist up. Mayweather no longer uses his legs as he once did. He's grown into his body and is capable of standing his ground when he wants or needs to because he's stronger than his opponents anticipate he is before they fight him. His accuracy, straight punching and speed enabled him to win a majority of the exchanges against Cotto and Alvarez without really moving all that much.
What's also troubling is the idea that you can go into a fight with someone as good as Mayweather with only Plan A, based entirely on expecting Floyd to do just one thing in the fight. That's completely idiotic. His trainer didn't think that if something was working against Floyd, he wouldn't just switch to something else? What if Angulo doesn't come out and pursue Alvarez like a wounded lion? Will Alvarez be thrown completely out of whack by that and need half the fight to adjust? That may be an over statement, but the point is, Alvarez must be honest with himself from this point on. He's being propped up and sold to the boxing public by Golden Boy Promotions as if he is the next big star in boxing. Adjusting is something that all great fighters can do on the fly. Mayweather didn't change one bit from rounds one through twelve against Alvarez. The problem was Alvarez couldn't change and had no answers or conception on how to make Floyd uncomfortable. Against Mayweather, he gets a pass because it was Mayweather and he's done that to virtually everyone he's faced. But that excuse won't fly long because there are a plethora of skilled fighters out there. Like Erislandy Lara, for instance, who cannot wait to get in the ring with him and not cooperate with the hopes of making his night real unpleasant.
If Alvarez is all that, he should systematically break down Angulo after a few close calls during the first two rounds and stop him somewhere between the eight or ninth rounds. If he's really learned from the Mayweather setback, he should be able to take care of his business on March 8th and set himself apart from Alfredo Angulo in much the same manner Erislandy Lara did.
Frank Lotierzo can be contacted at GlovedFist@Gmail.com