Less than two weeks after butchering Alfredo Angulo via gruesome TKO, Saul Alvarez returned to his gym in Guadalajara on Tuesday morning to announce that he would be back in the ring on July 26, as planned, in another pricey pay-per-view outing.
Given the strange fallout after Alvarez whipped Angulo like a Penitente in Las Vegas, a definitive win may be more important for “Canelo” than ever. When referee Tony Weeks halted the slaughter in the 10th round, he set off a broadband firestorm among the cynical, the clueless, and the crackpot alike. Who needs Birthers, 9/11 Truthers, and Stanley-Kubrick-Faked-The-Apollo-Moon-Landing kooks when you have boxing? According to the conspiracy theorists, the fight had been fixed. If you believe that, then you probably believe aliens built the pyramids, or, more bizarrely, that Angulo actually had a chance to win in the first place. Fights at this level are not about competition, but about making sure a box-office attraction like Alvarez continues his moneymaking ways without interruptions. This is where matchmaking mojo comes in: Angulo was selected as the fall guy for Alvarez based on his limitations, and he proved them—painfully so—the moment the opening bell rang at the MGM Grand.
Canelo is clearly Illuminati.
Not only was Angulo an underdog going into his fight with Alvarez, but he was also a man far removed from his peak as a pro. In fact, he has not looked particularly good since 2010, and after nearly a decade as a professional, he has yet to beat a world-class fighter. Even so, it is bad press to have a fight generate so much negative attention and Alvarez will have to hope his next outing is a clean win.
An opponent has not been selected yet, but Alvarez, who lost his junior middleweight trinket to Floyd Mayweather, Jr., last September, is looking to win another title at 154 pounds. Most junior middleweights are either booked up over the next few months (or, in the case of Carlos Molina, locked up), or not the kind of pugs you want to see swapping leather, like veteran bore Ishe Smith. On the other hand, Erislandy Lara, the talented but sour Cuban southpaw who has heckled Alvarez at every turn, is likely too much of a risk at this point.
Although Mayweather is currently the WBC champion, he has no plans to defend the title any time soon. Not that it matters. The WBC produces more “World Champions” in a month than the U.S. mint has produced Sacajawea coins, and the shady sanctioning body will likely be happy to cast something gaudy out of tin just for the occasion. Say, a box-off between Alvarez and the WBC #1 contender, Sergey Rabchenko, for some sort of vacant championship. Rabchenko is from Belarus (not exactly a boxing hotbed), has built his 25-0 record by facing second-tier fighters in the United Kingdom, and has practically no Q Score in North America whatsoever, but he has two very important things going for him: his #1 ranking will allow a bout with Alvarez to be billed as a “World Championship” fight, and he has little, if any, chance to win. What more can you ask for?
Carlos Acevedo is the editor of The Cruelest Sport and a full member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. His work has appeared in Boxing Digest Magazine, Maxboxing, Boxing World Magazine, and Esquina Boxeo.