By Ivan G. Goldman
To a world class fighter, Alfredo Angulo is almost as easy to hit as a trainer’s mitt. The problem is that he punches back. On Saturday night he’ll be an entirely different kind of test for Canelo Alvarez, who was last seen being outfought and outsmarted by pound-for-pound king Floyd Mayweather.
Photo: Hogan Photos/Golden Boy
Angulo, 22-3 (18 KOs) is the kind of fighter who tends to block shots with his face. He’s so intent on meting out punishment that he doesn’t seem to care what happens to him. You could say he suffers from battered boxer syndrome, which is one reason the odds are lopsided. Fighters like him can do well in the lower echelons of boxing, but when they get up to the big-time they tend to falter, and sure enough, Angulo lost to Kermit Cintron, James Kirkland, and Erislandy Lara, his three toughest tests to date.
In Las Vegas, Canelo was holding at –900 and Angulo at +500. That’s probably what gamblers call an overlay. That is, the gambling odds are not on even keel with the actual chances down on the ground. Angulo has a better shot than the money line. You have to bet $900 to win $100 on Alvarez, 42-1-1 (30KOs).
Angulo has heavy hands and if he doesn’t get cut, he’s durable and could be troublesome for Alvarez. Win or lose, Angulo, with his fan-friendly style, probably will get busted up. In fact, if you could set a line on that possibility it might be somewhere around -1500.
This light middleweight contest shapes up as an entertaining match-up between two tough Mexicans, but not one that qualifies as a pay-per-view attraction, which it is. They both lost their last fights. It’s clear that Showtime, Golden Boy Promotions and the Nevada casino industry want Canelo to win this one. He’s got star power, which translates into money power. He’s only 23 and hasn’t reached his full celebrity potential north of the border. His improving English should give it a boost.
Angulo contends that Lara, who stopped him in the 10th round in June, is a more formidable opponent than Canelo. In other words, he’s claiming that Canelo is no more than a marketing gimmick, a redheaded product whose true content doesn’t match the fancy packaging. Ouch.
But Canelo is shifty and quick. He can counterpunch and hurt you. He’s not just the media creation Angulo makes him out to be. Canelo looked unpolished against Mayweather, but most fighters do.
Your average citizen would be more frightened of a no-nonsense destroyer like Angulo than a slick boxer like Mayweather, who doesn’t commit to his punches with the same balls-to-the-wall determination. But most fighters who’ve been around would rather go in against an Angulo type. At least you can hit him. There’s nothing more frustrating than an opponent you can’t hit clean. It’s also terribly demoralizing to be slammed by punches you don’t see coming. Those are the kinds of shots Floyd threw at Canelo all night.
So although Angulo is no walk in the park, it might almost seem that way to Alvarez, whose sparring partners probably showed him more tricks than Angulo will. Angulo’s excellent trainer Virgil Hunter is not likely to turn “El Perro” (The Dog) into a speedster. And although Angulo might get much love and support from training mates Amir Khan, Andre Ward, and Andre Berto, they won’t be inside the ropes with him.
The fight may end up like a similar match-up in 1998, Fernando Vargas-versus-Yory Boy Campas. Campas was an even fiercer puncher than Angulo, but talented Vargas gradually took him apart, winning the IBF light middleweight title at age 21.
Showtime has brought the price of this event down from its premium $75 territory, setting it at $60 in high-def. It’s a niche event that won’t pull in casual fans but should turn an acceptable profit. The televised undercard is decent:
WBC super bantamweight titlist Leo Santa Cruz, 26-0-1 (15 KOs), versus Cristian Mijares, 48-7-2 (22 KOs); IBF junior middleweight belt-holder Carlos Molina, 22-5-2, (6 KOs) versus favored Jermall Charlo, 17-0 (13 KOs), and a 10-round lightweight contest featuring Jorge Linares, 35-3 (23 KOs), versus Nihito Arakawa, 24-3-1 (16 KOs).
Molina, the Los Angeles Times reported, was arrested this week in Las Vegas on a warrant from another state but was expected to compete. The charge wasn’t reported. The arrest complication was unlikely to improve Molina’s chances against Charlo.
Tickets at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas have also been ratcheted down, running from $100 to $600.
Sick Justice: Inside the American Gulag, by New York Times best-selling author Ivan G. Goldman, was released in 2013 by Potomac Books, a University of Nebraska Press imprint. It can be purchased here.