Canelo Alvarez: That’s how you bounce back from a defeat. Alvarez answered the opening bell against Alfredo Angulo on Saturday in Las Vegas with the ferocity of a fighter who believes strongly in himself in spite of his one-sided loss to Floyd Mayweather Jr. in September. The Mexican star attacked the defense-challenged Angulo with menacing efficiency, landing one hard punch after another until referee Tony Weeks had seen enough and ended matters in the 10th round. The CompuBox stats were telling: Alvarez landed 298 of 513 total punches (58 percent) and 197 of 309 power shots (64 percent). That’s like shooting fish in a barrel. Angulo was 104 of 770 (14 percent), evidence of the winner’s solid defensive skills. The result was more of a beat down than a competitive fight. That fact must be attributed in part to a poor effort by Angulo, who didn’t look like the warrior who gave Erislandy Lara hell in his last fight. Still, Alvarez (43-1-1, 31 knockouts) did what he came to do. He pummeled a respected opponent from beginning to end, allowing the memories of a frustrating performance against Mayweather to fade just a bit and re-establishing his credentials as a legitimate star.
Alfredo Angulo: Angulo (22-4, 18 KOs) lost to Lara by a 10th-round knockout but seemed to raise his stock by giving the talented Cuban a more significant challenge than many expected in June of last year. That’s why his performance on Saturday was so disappointing. Almost everyone thought Alvarez would beat Angulo, who is tough but the slower and less skilled of the two, but it was reasonable to expect a more competitive fight. One reason that didn’t happen: Alvarez’s aggression and punching power had Angulo on his heels most of the fight. And Angulo is more or less helpless if he’s moving backward. In other words, Alvarez had the right strategy and the ability to pull it off. However, no one should question Angulo’s heart. He never stopped firing even though his face – and perhaps his confidence – took a beating for most of the nine-plus rounds. That’s why he was genuinely upset when the fight was stopped; he doesn’t quit. Fans admire that kind of fighter, which is why El Perro will remain marketable for the foreseeable future.
I wouldn’t characterize the stoppage of the Alvarez-Angulo fight as “bad.” It was merely awkward. Referee Tony Weeks ended the fight after Angulo took a single uppercut 47 seconds into the 10th round, which was atypical. Refs generally stop fights after a series of blows or when a fighter is badly hurt. Plus, Angulo never stopped throwing punches. Thus, it’s reasonable to argue that the stoppage was premature. At the same time, Angulo had taken a fearful beating. I’m sure many of those watching the fight felt some relief that the carnage had ended. … The 10-round lightweight bout between Sergio Thompson (29-3, 26 KOs) and Ricardo Alvarez (23-3-3, 14 KOs) was the only competitive fight on the televised portion of the Alvarez-Angulo card. Thompson, a late replacement, defeated Canelo Alvarez’s brother by a unanimous decision but had to work for it. The other fights on TV were wipeouts. Leo Santa Cruz (27-0-1, 15 KOs) fought with his typical machine-like efficiency in a near-shutout victory over former titleholder Cristian Mijares (49-8-2, 24 KOs) to retain his WBC junior featherweight title. I’d like to see Santa Cruz face a more-serious challenge. And the slick, quick Jorge Linares (36-3, 23 KOs) dominated a game, but overmatched Nihito Arakawa (24-4-1, 16 KOs) in a 10-round lightweight bout. … Jorge Arce refuses to go away. He stopped Aldimar Silva Santos in five rounds in a scheduled 10-round featherweight bout Saturday in Mexico, his second consecutive victory since he was KO’d by Nonito Donaire in 2012. Arce is 34. … Paul Butler (15-0, 8 KOs) made a successful debut at bantamweight Saturday, stopping Orneste Bernabe Nieva (15-3-2, 6 KOs) in four rounds in Liverpool, England. The 25-year-old from Merseyside seems poised to find international success. … On Friday, Russian Rustam Nugaev (27-6-1, 17 KOs) continued his hot streak, stopping Marvin Quintero (25-5, 21 KOs) in four rounds in Pala, Calif. Nugaev, who campaigns primarily as a lightweight, has five straight KOs.