It's not Ali vs. Frazier I which took place on the same date in 1971, but when Saul "Canelo" Alvarez meets Alfredo "El Perro" Angulo this Saturday night in the MGM Grand Garden Arena it should still provide boxing fans with a decent night of entertainment.
Both fighters are hoping to get their careers back on track after having suffered losses in their prior bouts. Alvarez, the 23-year-old Mexican sensation, was beaten decisively by Floyd Mayweather, Jr. this past September in what was his first loss. Angulo, a big puncher who also hails from south of the border, was stopped last June against top contender Erislandy Lara. His career has had numerous stops and starts and he's hoping to upset Alvarez and put himself in line for larger paydays.
Alvarez, with a record of 42-1, is a massive betting favorite and in some betting parlors a gambler would have to wager $1,000 on him to win $100. The likelihood of an upset in this is like Don King used to say: "Slim and none - and slim's outta' town." It has led some in the industry to criticize the match and many boxing fans have declared the bout is not worthy of the pay-per-view asking price, but Richard Schaefer, CEO of Golden Boy Promotions, views it through a rose-colored kaleidoscope.
"The odds? They mean nothing," said Schaefer. "Look at the last fight a few months ago, Danny Garcia against Lucas Matthysse. Danny Garcia was a 9-1 underdog, and we all know what happened. That's the beauty of boxing. When you have two guys who come to fight who have that will to win you just don't know what's going to happen, and that's why it's so exciting."
In all probability, Saturday's fight will have some decent action. Angulo, with a 22-3 ledger, is a pressure fighter that can punch. Put the two together and Alvarez-Angulo may be able to deliver some fireworks in the all-Mexican 154-pound match-up.
"The only thing I can tell you is the good thing is whenever you have a Mexican versus a Mexican it's a guaranteed great fight, and that's what we're going to bring you March 8th," Alvarez said a couple weeks ago.
Certainly that is part of the appeal with this fight. More often than not, the fights these two engage in end early and that was part of the reason the fight was made. Schaefer claims it will be a fan friendly event and worth the pay-per-view asking price.
"Canelo wants to entertain, and I can assure you - I can assure you that this fight March 8th between Canelo and Alfredo will be the most exciting, the most exciting fight, from all those upcoming pay-per-view events," said Schaefer. "Canelo means excitement. He's explosive. Alfredo means excitement and is explosive and if you put those two together it's can't-miss TV."
Angulo has the chance of a lifetime Saturday night. For him it means a massive leap forward if he wins and if he loses it's a trip to the back of the contender train. At age 31, Angulo must make the absolute best of this opportunity. He seems to realize as much, says he has prepared vigorously and seriously and feels that if Alvarez lets his guard down, he could do the impossible and overcome long odds.
"That's the beautiful thing about boxing," he says. "You can be the best fighter in the world, but if you don't train and you let your guard down, anybody can come and beat you. That's why you've got to be ready at every turn and you have to train hard."
Prediction: The promoters are calling this fight "Toe to Toe" but it is unlikely there will be much of that kind of sustained action. Quite simply, Alvarez has youth and confidence on his side. He has a well-rounded skill set which enables him to use movement and quick hands when required. But he also has good punching power and can fight on the inside if the situation warrants. There is no question that he learned much in his loss to Mayweather and that he will use that knowledge in this fight. For a 23-year-old fighter, Alvarez is as experienced as they come and has seen many fighters similar to Angulo before. The only real shot that Angulo has on Saturday night is a lucky one. Make no mistake about it, Angulo can punch, but in every other measurable area that you can conceive, Alvarez is the better fighter. Both will be cautious early on because both are coming off losses and will be looking to regain their sea legs. Angulo will be forced to come ahead to get close but he will be fed a steady diet of shots from the quicker, faster, younger and better schooled former titlist. Angulo has a tendency to bust up and with the steady diet of shots that will pour over his leaky defensive walls he could be in for a night of pain. I look for Alvarez to totally befuddle Angulo, win virtually every round with his superior skills and really put on a clinic. Stylistically, Alvarez could not have hoped for a better opponent for which to make his triumphant return. Look for a late TKO and a referee or corner stoppage somewhere around the 10th round with Alvarez the winner who will move on to bigger and better things.
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