This weekend Mexican Phenom Saul "Canelo" Alvarez will headline a four-bout PPV card from the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, the same venue where Alvarez last fought on September 14th of last year. That fight was against boxing's best pound-for-pound boxer Floyd Mayweather and drew 2.2 million buys. Alvarez didn't have a banner night against Mayweather and lost 11 of the 12 rounds the fight went, with Floyd retaining his undefeated record via a split decision victory.
Alvarez 42-1-1 (30) has a pop cultural type following and is right up there, popularity-wise but not accomplishment wise, with superstars Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao. In the signature fight of his career versus Mayweather, he didn't even compete. In fact three of Mayweather's last four opponents before fighting Alvarez, Shane Mosley, Miguel Cotto and Robert Guerrero actually pushed Mayweather harder and gave him more of a scare than Alvarez did.
Granted, that had a little bit to do with boxing styles and the fact it was Saul's first time on the big stage. And nobody is disparaging Alvarez for his underwhelming effort during the fight because Mayweather is the best around today and in all honesty, Alvarez if given his choice in an ideal setting, probably would've preferred to have clashed with Mayweather a little further down the road when he had a little more experience under his belt. Yet, here he is headlining a Showtime PPV card where it'll cost $59.95 to watch the fight in HD, in spite of the fact that both he and his opponent Alfredo Angulo 22-3 (18) are coming off a convincing defeat in their last bout. Which is another layer of proof that boxing, like all other major sports, is superstar driven. Yes, Alvarez is a star in the making and an extremely skilled boxer-puncher who is more than willing to mix it up with his opponent when everything is right as he sees it. Angulo, he doesn't care who he's fighting. Just put him in the ring with gloves on and he'll attack who ever it is in front of him until the bell rings.
Showtime executive Stephen Espinoza said, "We're thrilled, the Mayweather fight might not have gone the way Canelo would have wanted, but from every indication we've seen he has benefited from the exposure and his fan base is continuing to grow exponentially. We're still seeing massive traffic as far as he's concerned.”
Why is there massive traffic for Alvarez-Angulo? Is it that boxing is so devoid of fighters who can be hyped as superstars and attract the public's interest that today they're packaged to specific demographic audiences? If Roberto Duran, Sugar Ray Leonard, Thomas Hearns, Wilfred Benitez and Mike McCallum were fighting in this era, there's no doubt about it that Alvarez vs. Angulo would be a Showtime main or possibly a co-main event.
“We made a decision he was the best style for me,” Alvarez said. “He comes forward. He makes good fights. It’s a very different style (than Mayweather’s), but it’s a style that’s going to be attractive and it’s going to make for a good fight.”
Yes, Alvarez is probably right, he and Angulo will most likely be a fan friendly fight as long as it lasts. But why should boxing fans have to pay damn near sixty dollars to see it? It's a Showtime fight and that's where it should air, not on PPV.
I don't begrudge any fighter being paid big money, with the exception of the superstars, I think they are all under paid. But why must the fans be held up? I guess the reason for that is because the networks and promoters know they can get away with it...and as long as that's the case it'll never change.
I predict Alvarez-Angulo will be an entertaining fight. With Alfredo Angulo involved it has to be. Angulo is aggressive and is willing to take one or two, or three punches, in order to give back one big shot. He has a kill or be killed mindset and is never an easy out for anybody. In his last two defeats, Angulo had his opponents, James Kirkland and Erislandy Lara, down and was perhaps one or two punches away from winning the fight by stoppage. If Alvarez wanted to be tested both mentally and physically, he picked the perfect opponent in Angulo.
As for Alvarez, he is a boxer-puncher who likes to get off in spurts. He fights at a measured pace and usually only cuts loose when he feels he can put his shots together in combinations of twos and threes. He'll be comfortable allowing Angulo to push the fight and look to either get off first before Alfredo starts winging his looping hooks, thus disrupting his momentum, or he'll wait for a break in the storm and try to counter him with well placed hooks, crosses and uppercuts while Angulo looks to reset. When all is said and done, Alvarez should see everything that Angulo launches his way. Angulo will have his moments during the fight and could very well give Alvarez a good scare, but in the end he'll probably take too many big shots flush to the head and face. His power and toughness will make the fight one worth seeing, but Alvarez's skill should prevail over Angulo's will. Surely, Alvarez-Angulo has all the needed ingredients to make a pretty good scrap with both fighters having their moments before a memorable ending.
But....At one time PPV fights were reserved for the best of the best. There was usually an element of drama that accompanied them as to who would win. That all started to change with the emergence of a young Oscar De La Hoya in the early nineties. With De La Hoya, it only took a fighter with a name known only to quasi boxing fans in order to make a PPV event/fight. Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao took the baton from Oscar and now De La Hoya promotes Alvarez, the supposed new "must see" fighter on the ascension. Yeah, perhaps Canelo is a PPV fighter down the road, but not coming off a resounding defeat against another fighter who's fighting to keep his career relevant and maintain his status as a championship caliber opponent. The only thing that would make Alvarez-Angulo more appealing and viewed by more boxing fans and possibly potential fans is if it were on Showtime.
Frank Lotierzo can be reached at GlovedFist@Gmail.com