Dog Eat Dog: Saul “Canelo” Alvarez Squares Off Against Alfredo Angulo in Las Vegas

Read more

Alfredo Angulo used to enter the ring wearing a dog collar, but he might want to switch to one of those protective lampshades worn by pets recovering from injuries when he faces Saul “Canelo” Alvarez on Saturday night at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada. After all, things have been rough for Angulo over the last two-and-a-half years. While Alvarez was solidifying his teen idol status and creating his own personal economic boom, Angulo, born in Mexicali, was crawling along a grim path. In his last two significant fights, he was stopped by tricky southpaw Erislandy Lara after a knot as big as a coconut popped up on his brow, and he was battered into stomach-churning defeat by James Kirkland in 2011. Not long after Kirkland nearly decapitated him, Angulo wound up in an ICE detention center, where he languished for eight months. That sort of institutional downtime—combined with stress and poor nutrition—can leave a fighter hollow. And “Perro,” with a record of 22-3 (18 knockouts), has looked more than a little fallow in his comeback fights.

For Alvarez, who dropped a clear decision to Floyd Mayweather, Jr., last September in the biggest-grossing pay-per-view in the history of boxing, a win over Angulo will bring a little shine back to his slightly smudged reputation. Alvarez showed ambition by tackling Mayweather, the best boxer of his era, but he was outclassed from the moment the opening bell rang.

Because Alvarez, who hails from Jalisco, is such a popular fighter among Mexican-Americans, this fight will be shown on pay-per-view in the United States despite the fact that Angulo has few quality wins on his resume over the last three years. Whether or not fans desert “Canelo” en masse in the wake of his uninspired loss to Mayweather remains to be seen. Unlike his wacky counterpart, Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr.—who trails chaos behind him wherever he goes—Alvarez has made few public relations mistakes. But a $50 price tag to see a man who failed miserably in his biggest test certainly looks life a marketing gaffe.

Still only 23, Alvarez, with his red/cresting pompadour, retains that sweet bird of youth look. At times, you almost expect Alvarez, 42-1-1 (with 30 knockouts), to shove a handful of Raisinets into his mouth at press conferences. But, with the exception of his loss to Mayweather, he has shown poise in the ring throughout his career, and Angulo will have to throw an entire kitchenette set at him to ruffle his feathers. Although he is slower than ever and is easier to hit than an Edison Volquez fastball, Angulo has a left hook that can knock over a taco stand. He will try to land it as often as possible in hopes of leaving the past behind him once and for all. That, ultimately, is the dream behind the dream for all prizefighters, and Angulo, 31, must be tired of nightmares by now.

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.