Alfredo Angulo is keenly aware of the recent trend of upsets over the past few months.
In August, Jhonny Gonzalez's dethroned previously unbeaten Abner Mares as WBC featherweight beltholder with a shocking first-round stoppage.
In December, Marcos Maidana scored knockdowns in the fourth and eighth rounds en route to a unanimous decision over previously undefeated Adrien Broner, earning him the WBA welterweight title.
Last month, Luis Collazo won a welterweight clash of former titleholders with a second-round knockout of Victor Ortiz.
During a Wednesday conference call, Angulo (22-3, 18 knockouts) said he is hoping for similar results against former RING junior middleweight champion Canelo Alvarez (42-1-1, 30 KOs) during their all-Mexican clash on Showtime Pay Per View on March 8 at The MGM Grand in Las Vegas, site of Alvarez's first career loss to Floyd Mayweather Jr. in September.
"I have noticed (the upsets), but that's the beautiful thing about boxing. It goes to show that you can be the best fighter in the world," Angulo said through translation by Golden Boy Vice President and matchmaker Eric Gomez, "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 time and you have to train hard.
"God-willing, it's going to be that way. That's what I want and that's what I'm working for, and hopefully, it will happen that way."
If it does, Angulo will have thrust himself into the forefront of a thriving weight division, according to Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer.
"If you beat somebody like a Canelo, and you are in the 154-pound weight class, there are, of course, many big names and opportunities out there. I don't need to tell you who the biggest name is. We all know that. That's, of course, Floyd Mayweather. I am not going to go and make any statements or promises and so on about, 'If you win, you're going to get Floyd,'" said Schaefer.
"But there are other big opportunities out there, whether it's Miguel Cotto, or so on. But the door certainly would open and it would lead to mega fights, and I think that Alfredo knows that. But Alfredo is a veteran and he was telling me at the Los Angeles press conference that he's not thinking ahead. His only task at hand is Canelo Alvarez, and I think that Alfredo would be foolish — which I know that he is not — to look past Canelo Alvarez. So his focus is on Canelo, and let's see what happens."
ANGULO: 'I WON MY SPOT'
In his last bout, in June, Angulo scored two knockdowns during a brutal and dramatic 10th-round stoppage loss to top contender Erislandy Lara.
In December, Lara scored an 11th-round knockdown during a unanimous decision over left-hander Austin Trout, whom Alvarez floored in the seventh-round of a unanimous decision win last April.
Lara lobbied for a bout with Alvarez.
Instead it was Angulo who was picked by Alvarez, who gave him the nod over Lara as well as IBF 154-pound titleholder Carlos Molina, who battled Lara to a disputed draw in March of 2011.
"I'm very grateful. I want to thank Richard Schaefer and the entire team at Golden Boy for having the confidence in me, so that I can be in this kind of fight. But at the same time, I feel that I've won my spot," said Angulo, 31.
"I won my spot through my hard work, and my style of fighting. I've always given 100 percent up in that ring, and I've given it my all. So I kind of feel that I won my spot and that there is a reason why I'm in this fight. This is a very, very big opportunity for me, and I'm going to take full advantage of it."
SCHAEFER: ANGULO 'IS MUST-SEE T.V.'
During a bout that featured first-round knockdowns by each boxer, Angulo was stopped in the sixth round by James Kirkland in November 2011. Angulo also lost a unanimous decision to Kermit Cintron in May 2009.
"I think that you don't just get the opportunity, you earn the opportunity, and I think that Alfredo has earned this opportunity in the way that he has fought and the way that he fights. Boxing, I think, particularly in the last few years or so, has really moved to the point where excitement, win or lose, is more rewarded than it used to be," said Schaefer.
"Fighters don't have to go to the back of the line if they lose in exciting fashion. Sometimes, an exciting loss these days is, frankly, more valuable than a boring win…Fans like to be entertained, and Alfredo has that style. I think that he has earned this fight through his hard work and dedication to the sport. Of course, nobody wants to lose, but Alfredo is must-see TV"
TRAINER VIRGIL HUNTER ON ANGULO'S SPARRING WITH AMIR KHAN, ANDRE WARD, OTHERS
Angulo shares California-based trainer Virgil Hunter with former junior welterweight beltholder Amir Khan RING super middleweight champion Andre Ward, and has trained with both boxers. Hunter spoke about training Angulo and how having the veteran spar wtih Ward and Khan helps the pressure fighter's development during the conference call.
"I never changed his style, because that's him, and I wanted him to naturally gravitate toward other things that would mesh with his atyle and in doing that, showing him different looks and different styles of boxing. Sparring against one type of style in the past, he stayed locked in that style, but now that he's been exposed to different styles and different looks, like fast and quick fighters," said Hunter.
"Now, he can adapt to these things, naturally, and integrate them into his style without being force-fed and without being mind-fed. It's come along naturally through his participation and observation. So that's the benefit and the purpose of different looks and styles. We do also have sparring partners in camp assimilating the style of Canelo, also."
Ward was complimentary of Angulo.
"Angulo is a veteran. Like I said, he's got heavy hands and he works great to the body, and again, he just knows how to put certain punches in certain places. He knows how to do it. You can tell just sparring with a guy that if he throws a shot and he landed it by chance or if he mean to land that shot," said Ward of Angulo, during an interview with RingTV.com.
"Like I said, every shot that Angulo lands, he means to land it, let's just put it like that. I can see why he gives 154-pounders a lot of fits, let's put it like that. He knows how to fight, and he knows how to put the right kind of pressure on you at the right time, and he knows when to rest, and he's knows when to fight."
Angulo said that his sessions with Ward were, indeed, helpful.
"First of all, I'm not sure that I'll be sparring with Andre any more, because that's not up to me. But the times that I did box with him, he's a very good fighter. He's got a lot of talent and experience," said Angulo.
"He's got a lot of qualities that are superior to Canelo's. So I know that it's helping me. To be able to be in there with Andre Ward, it's a plus for me, and it's a positive. I'm very grateful to him for the work and for the nice comments, because he knows how important this fight is to me."
Canelo Alvarez was ringside in San Antonio in December when his 32-year-old brother, Ricardo "Dinamita" Alvarez, won his American debut by majority decision over junior welterweight Rod Salka.
On the undercard of his bout with Angulo, Ricardo Alvarez (23-2-3, 14 KOs) will face WBC lightweight titleholder Omar Figueroa (22-0-1, 17 KOs).
The card will feature the first defense by IBF 154-pound titleholder Carlos Molina (22-5-2, 6 KOs) against prospect Jermall Charlo (17-0, 13 KOs) the 23-year-old twin brother of unbeaten junior middleweight contender Jermell Charlo.
Alvarez-Angulo also boasts WBC 122-pound beltholder Leo Santa Cruz (26-0-1, 15 KOs) against Cristian Mijares (49-7-2, 24 KOs) on the Showtime Pay Per View broadcast, while ex-beltholder Jorge Linares (35-3, 23 KOs) is being matched in a Showtime Extreme lightweight bout against Japan's Nihito Arakawa (24-3-1, 16 KOs), the latter of whom rose from the canvas twice during a brutal unanimous decision loss to Figueroa in July.
In undercard fights, junior lightweights Will Tomlinson (21-0-1, 12 KOs) and Jerry Belmontes (18-3, 5 KOs) will clash, as will junior lightweights Franciso Vargas (18-0-1, 13 KOs) and Abner Cotto (17-1, 8 KOs).
In still other bouts on the card, junior featherweight Joseph Diaz (9-1, 6 KOs) and junior welterweight Keandre Gibson (8-0-1, 3 KOs) will each face opponents to be determined.
"There are certainly a lot of exciting fights. It's definitely one of those cards where you want to be early at the MGM," said Schaefer, who expects "a complete sell out at The MGM Grand."
"Some of those fights will be on the Showtime free view, and they'll be available to a large audience as a lead-in to the pay per view..It's just an unbelievable night of boxing, and I think that it will be well-received by the pay per view audience."
JERMELL CHARLO SIGNS WITH AL HAYMON
Jermell Charlo (23-0, 11 KOs), who is coming off last month's unanimous decision over Gabriel Rosado, recently signed with Al Haymon, joining his brother, Jermall, in the powerful advisor's illustrious stable, according to Haymon's associate, Sam Watson.
Photo / Naoki Fukuda