LAS VEGAS – Fans packed the MGM Grand Garden Arena to see an old-fashioned slugfest between Canelo Alvarez and Alfredo Angulo on Saturday.
They were treated to a little of what they wanted in the late rounds, especially Round 8, but most of what they got was a massacre.
Alvarez, who scored a somewhat disputed 10th-round stoppage, couldn’t miss Angulo. The 23-year-old Mexican star teed off on his rugged countryman with impunity, repeatedly knocking the 30-year-old veteran's head back and forth with stiff jabs, hooks, crosses, body shots and three-punch combinations.
It wasn’t “Toe To Toe,” as the Showtime PPV event was titled; it was target practice. Alvarez (43-1-1, 31 knockouts) could hit Angulo. If Angulo (22-4, 18 KOs) hit anything in the first four rounds, it was Alvarez’s gloves.
“I was doing my job,” Alvarez said after the fight. “I was so secure in my jab and my stamina was there.”
However, Alvarez, who rebounded from a one-sided decision loss to Floyd Mayweather last September, didn’t dominate the entire fight. The former junior middleweight champ was breathing heavy by the end of the fifth round, and Angulo, who is known for his ability to take punishment and keep going, tried his best to seize the opportunity when Alvarez went to the ropes for a breather in rounds six, seven and eight.
Angulo, who scored two knockdowns en route to being stopped in the 10th round by top contender Erislandy Lara in his last bout, stepped up his pressure and started landing punches. When Alvarez hit him back, he taunted the younger man and told him to bring it on.
Alvarez obliged Angulo but did so with smart, stick-and-move boxing tactics. However, Angulo's relentless pressure throughout Round 7 took a toll on Alvarez, who leaned on the ropes – content to slip punches – for the first half of Round 8.
His lack of offense spurred on Angulo (and El Perro’s fans), who finally put punches together against the popular redhead. Angulo’s success lit a fire in the belly of Alvarez, who stood his ground, waved Angulo in and finally treated the lively crowd of 14,610 to the all-Mexican war they craved.
It was electrifying action for about 90 seconds, but that was Angulo’s last moment in the fight. Alvarez wisely kept his back off the ropes in Round 9, and returned to his sharpshooting. Prior to the start of Round 10, Angulo’s trainer, Virgil Hunter, warned his fighter that he was close to stopping the fight if he continued to absorb flush two- and three-punch combinations.
However, referee Tony Weeks beat Hunter to the punch just as Alvarez had beaten Angulo to the punch all night. The veteran official jumped between the fighters after Alvarez landed a massive uppercut, stopping the bout 47 seconds into Round 10.
Angulo, who vehemently protested Weeks’ decision, was beside himself with grief.
“He should have let it go to the end,” Angulo said after the fight. “I’m fine and I was fighting. The referee was wrong this time.”
Hunter supported his fighter.
“I told the referee that if Canelo puts two and three punches on my fighter (in Round 10) that I’ll stop it myself,” Hunter said. “But it was one punch. He stopped it after one punch and everybody knows that Angulo was coming on strong.”
Much of the crowd roared its approval of Hunter’s words. Alvarez didn’t have a problem with the stoppage.
“The referee is the marshal, he’s the chief,” Alvarez said. “He stopped the fight because he knew what was going on.”
Did Weeks save a tiring Alvarez from a final-rounds rally from Angulo. Alvarez says he wasn’t gassed at all.
“Of course I got a little tired, this is boxing,” he said, "but I could have fought another 10 rounds.
“I was in his territory (fighting on the inside) and I was able to go toe to toe with him. The referee stopped the fight. It’s not my problem. I’m happy with how I fought tonight.”