By Sean Crose
Most fighters suffer a first loss at some point in their careers. Few, however, suffer it in the manner Saul Alvarez did last September when he was routed in front of millions by Floyd Mayweather. Judging from his demeanor during a conference call on Tuesday, however, the man they call Canelo seems to have swallowed that bitter pill in stride.
“I learned a lot in that fight,” he said through his translator. “It wasn’t just one thing. We did gain a lot of experience.”
In other words, the world’s most famous red haired Mexican views the Mayweather bout as a lesson of sorts. He may have been schooled, but at least he took something away from what was undoubtedly a very bad night.
“I’m very strong minded,” he added later. “Yes, it was a loss, but I moved on from it.”
He’s certainly “moved on from it” in exciting fashion. For Canelo’s next opponent is his fiery fellow Mexican, Alfredo Angulo. A straight up brawler, Angulo offers Canelo a far different challenge than Mayweather did. Or even Austin Trout did last April. In other words, Canelo-Angulo promises to have thrills. “That’s what the people want to see,” Canelo stated simply.
According to Richard Schaefer, the CEO of Golden Boy Promotions, which is promoting the Canelo-Angulo bout, fans of boxing crave the rush of an exciting matchup. “Canelo could have fought for a world title,” he said, “and it could have been a dance festival.”
Instead, however, Canelo chose to fight a man with eighteen knockouts on his resume, a man who’s many victories have rarely come by way of decision. “Canelo,” Schaefer said. “realizes boxing is entertainment.”
If boxing is indeed entertainment, then Alvarez is undoubtedly one of the top entertainers in the world. His bout with Mayweather not only shattered Pay Per View records, it shattered records back in his home country, as well. Schaefer told reporters the Mayweather-Alvarez match “ broke TV ratings in Mexico.” When you consider just how popular boxing is among the Mexican people, you realize that’s a pretty impressive statement.
Still, entertaining though it may be, Canelo’s upcoming bout with Angulo has raised some questions. Angulo, after all, is a fairly heavy underdog. What’s more, someone like Erislandy Lara would have possibly been a far more challenging opponent. Canelo, however, appeared immune from the kind of criticism someone like Mayweather receives on a regular basis.
“Look,” he said. “there’s always going to be critics…but at the same time, there’s always going to be fans and supporters.”
Sure enough, there are plenty of rabid Canelo fans out there. Some would undoubtedly love to see him fight anyone, no matter how lopsided the match might be. I asked Canelo if he’ll now avoid frustrating opposition like Mayweather and Lara from here on in. “No,” he insisted, “I’m open to fight whoever and wherever…it’s just (that) time will tell and dictate who.”
Right now, though, he assured me, he’s focused on the task at hand. It’s been said there’s no love lost between he and Angulo, but Canelo sounded nothing but gracious as he spoke of his latest foe. “He (Angulo) showed tremendous heart,” when he fought Lara last June. “He was winning and would have won the fight in my eyes.”
Canelo was even gracious when I asked if he thought judges unfairly favor defensive tactics, like the kind Mayweather employs. “No no no,” he answered emphatically. “He’s (Mayweather’s) a great fighter and they know that. But the fans also like to see action.”
And action is what fans will get when Alvarez and Angulo meet on March 8th. “Whenever you have a Mexican versus a Mexican,” Canelo argued, “it’s a guaranteed great fight.”