This past autumn, across the ring, there stood the greatest boxing technician of his generation. An untouchable defensive wizard. A lightning fast sharpshooter. A stylistic nightmare in a dream bout. A fill-your-pockets purse in exchange for a cash-out curse.
Floyd Mayweather took the sweetness from Saul “Cinnamon” Alvarez’s carefully prepared confection of a career and left a bitter feast for the Mexican’s faithful to swallow. Now, this Saturday night, across the ring stands a Mexican mauler. A canine collar wearing attack dog. A face first fistic bludgeoner. A stylistic remedy for a first loss malady.
For Alvarez, his back to back opponents couldn’t be more different, and he assuredly hopes the outcomes will be equally opposite. When the fight dubbed “Toe to Toe” commences at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas this weekend Alvarez will look to regain his luster against a man, Alfredo Angulo, who offers little in the way of complexity and much in the way of sheer aggression and simplicity.
In the inevitable mystery landscape of a fight not yet fought, one imagines these two junior middleweights alternately in a blazing firefight or a smoldering smokeout that never quite catches flame.
The one predictable factor is Angulo. He is a one man army, marching forward, launching wave after wave of attack with little regard for his own casualties. Perro, “The Dog”, will come after Alvarez and look to terrorize the young man into a claw and scratch affair. If Angulo is the known factor, then the mystery comes in the form of whether or not the Mexican redhead will look to make The Dog roll over by showing him who’s bark is worse, or aim to play master by out braining the bulldog.
Alvarez has the speed and skill to put on a relative boxing clinic similar to what Mayweather did to him late last year. If he isn’t worried about a fan pleasing performance that tack could be his ticket to a safety first night that would preserve his gumption for fighting two more times this year. What could foil that plan and make this fight heat up no matter what is Canelo’s penchant for fighting in spurts and becoming less active over the course of the fight. If Angulo can keep the pressure pounding, he may be able to wilt the younger man’s will and test his fortitude. The complication for Angulo, however, is that while he never stops coming forward and bombarding his opponent with punches, the bite on those blows seems to dull by mid bout. Heaving breaths and weary arm punches replace crisp combos and swarming salvos.
The balance of the two men’s conditioning may tell the tale of the boy and his dog, but if the world is just, we may never get to find out. Angulo will come to throw punches and trade. If Canelo is out to prove something, hot off his first loss, there may not be time to worry about conditioning. One of these two men may be in serious jeopardy early.
Whatever level of aggression he feels compelled to engage at, Alvarez is truly in the driver seat. His better skill, speed and power make it his fight to lose. If he is able to stay focused, he has the speed to punch with precision between Angulo’s slower blows. His more capable footwork will make him tough to corral and his own creative combos will take the often plodding Angulo out of rhythm. For someone who has been cut up often before and suffered a grotesquely swollen eye socket, forcing the end of his last bout, the tough and tenacious Angulo may be forced to dig deep to stay in the fight.
Trainer Virgil Hunter has been teaching the old dog new tricks in camp, however, and has had Angulo spar with speedy junior welterweight notable Amir Kahn., a fighter who’s hands are likely even faster than the mitts Canelo will be tossing his way on Saturday. To prepare for a bigger, more technically sound fighter, Hunter then put his charge in with pound-for-pound shortlister Andre Ward, the current super middleweight champion. That world class sparring and experience for Angulo should have his confidence high and prepare him for his task against Alvarez.
He’ll need it.
It says something when your opponent has more knockouts than you do fights. It says something else entirely when that same opponent is also eight years younger than you. Alvarez enters the ring a comparative youngster at age 23, but a savvy ring veteran of 44 fights, nearly double the number of bouts his 31-year old opponent has participated in. While Canelo has been accused of having an inflated record filled with KO fodder from south of the border, there’s no denying the success he’s continued to have against quality opposition over the last few years.
With just about every conceivable advantage in one fighter’s favor, it’s fair to wonder whether this fight is a worthy pay-per-view purchase for your hard earned dollar. Truth be told, it depends what you value.
There’s a good chance this could be a pretty entertaining fight. Even if Alvarez and his handlers hope this is a glorified tune-up and he chooses to box, Angulo is good enough to make him work more than he wants to. With a determined slugger like that, it’s hard to imagine a dull fight. Angulo has never been in one before.
But if the steep PPV price seems a tough sell to you, this might be a good fight to try out the theater experience that recent Golden Boy fights have offered. In theaters across the country the full four fight card is airing live and will cost you a fraction of the price it would to watch it at home.
Money aside, is the fight worth your time as a boxing fan? I think it is.
It may be worth the price of admission just to see whether the dog’s bite matches it’s bark, or whether the pup gets put to sleep.