The surging energy of live combat has crept into Las Vegas helping muster up an exciting atmosphere throughout the valley following a relatively dry start to 2014. The Sin City desert had experienced a small drought due to its lack of any big boxing fights but that all comes to an end this weekend the MGM Grand Hotel & Casino hosts the first Showtime PPV of the year; “Toe To Toe”. Headlining the card is previously unbeaten title holder and Mexican superstar, Saul “Canelo” Alvarez (who collides with hardnosed brawler, Alfredo “El Perro” Angulo (22-3 w/18 KOs) inside the MGM Grand Garden arena. In order to get better prepared for the fight night interactions amongst other fans as well as reload the memory banks, here is a closer look at the two warriors clashing in this 12-round, 154 lbs contest.
Alvarez was last seen in action this past September tangling with Floyd MayweatherJr in one of the all-time most financially successful events in the history of the sport. The overwhelming merchandise sales and live gate however, did not overshadow the fact that a usually dominant Alvarez had no answer for the technical prowess of his unbeaten foe. Nevertheless, if you could choose who to suffer your first career blemish to, it might as well be a unanimous verdict against the best active boxer on the planet.
Before tasting defeat last fall, the Guadalajara native cruised over his opponents throughout his career eventually challenging for his first junior middleweight world title at the (35-0) mark back in March of 2011. A unanimous decision triumph over Matthew Hatton that night in Anaheim was followed by a trio of consecutive TKOs in his next three title defenses with stoppages over Ryan Rhodes, Alfonso Gomez and Kermit Cintron before the year came to a close. In 2012, he picked up an easy points victory over living legend “Sugar” Shane Mosley then a few months later demolished Josesito Lopez inside of 5 rounds. The then unbeaten title holder decided to sell out the Alamodome in April of 2013 where he handed Austin Trout his first pro loss as they met to unify the WBC & WBA belts. Alvarez would go on to fight Floyd in the fall encountering his first pro loss. Now as it goes, critics sprout out of the woodwork to point out problems, issues & faults in a fighter the second failure rears its ugly head, but the truly elite warriors of the world value the chance to move forward in order to conquer adversity.
If any fighter out there knows about the wide range of emotions which a ring warrior might be experiencing its Alfredo Angulo. Many a times the underdog, the Mexicali native has seen just about everything in and out of the squared circle from visa issues leading to deportation, missed opportunities due to promotional disputes to life threatening injuries suffered doing what he loves. The latter occurred during his most recent bout last summer against Erislandy Lara when damage to his eye from their heated exchanges resulted in a broken orbital bone in the 10th round prompting a TKO stoppage. Truly a heart-breaking loss to Angulo who had leveled Lara twice in the match seeming to have victory well within his grasp had the battle made it to the final bell.
Before withstanding that menacing threat to his career the man they call “El Perro” translation; “The Dog”, personified a rabid tornado of destruction. His vicious work ethic materialized in the form of a 72% KO ratio inside the ring highlighted by the fact that Angulo has only gone the distance twice in his entire career. Sadly, one of those instances was his first pro loss to Kermit Cintron in 2009 and the other a unanimous decision, this time in his favor, over Jorge Silva in 2012. In-between those uncharacteristically lengthy matches, “El Perro” has added finishes of tough-as-nails Gabriel Rosado, who was unbeaten at the time they met, to his list of victims as well as the very durable Joel Julio. Just when fans thought Angulo couldn’t top his already exciting performances, he and James Kirkland waged war in Cancun, Mexico in an incredible bout that saw them trade knockdowns during the 1st round as they violently produced a “Fight of the Year” candidate for 2011. The fight was stopped in the 6th stanza once the tide turned after Angulo punched himself out looking for the finish but who knows what could have happened had he traded a fast and spirited effort for a more methodical approach to carry him into the second half of the match.
Heading into this Saturday’s affair, the 23-year old Alvarez enters the bout as a 10-1 favorite regardless of the schooling he absorbed at the hands of pound for pound king, Floyd Mayweather jr, just 6 months ago. Those odds present somewhat of a generous figure given the fact that neither man has a true or clear advantage when rebounding from a hard loss so it’s pretty much even once Jimmy Lennon Jr. tells us, “It’s Showtime”. Which combatant gained more once they reflected on their respective set back last year? Is Saul Alvarez really the next Mexican legend his fan base and promoters would like to believe that he is or did all the pressure, stress and responsibility finally become too much breaking him in his last outing? On the other hand, how many times can Alfredo Angulo rally back from misfortune before his luck runs out? Is it too soon for these men to have stepped back into the ring on top of signing up for such a dangerous assignment?
This is an intriguingly unforgiving sport where the consequences have ended many fighters but the spoils and rewards have also granted a lucky few immortality. When Saul Alvarez goes toe to toe with Alfredo Angulo for their main event only one man can stand tall on Saturday night, inching a step closer towards that timeless reward. We will find out who that man is this weekend as Showtime PPV presents the live broadcast of Alvarez vs. Angulo from the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada.