By Keith Idec
Canelo Alvarez doesn’t think Alfredo Angulo quit against Erislandy Lara.
Despite the bad blood between the Mexican fighters as their March 8 bout nears, the former WBC super welterweight champion suspects the pain Angulo suffered around his left eye that night was simply unbearable. Otherwise, there would’ve been no reason to halt a fight Angulo had a strong chance to win after knocking down Lara in the fourth and ninth rounds June 8 in Carson, Calif.
Angulo led, 86-83, on judge Marty Denkin’s scorecard at the time of the stoppage. The two other judges, Max DeLuca and Robert Hoyle, had Lara ahead by the same score (85-84).
Regardless, Alvarez was impressed with Angulo’s performance, particularly after a slow start against the technically superior Cuban southpaw.
“He showed tremendous heart,” Alvarez said. “He did great. At that moment, if it would’ve gone the distance he would’ve won the fight. He was winning and he would’ve won the fight. You never know what kind of pain went through him and made him decide to stop the fight at that moment. It’s unknown.”
It initially was feared Angulo sustained a fractured orbital bone against Lara (19-1, 12 KOs), but he walked away without any serious injuries. While some have applauded Angulo (22-3, 18 KOs) for fighting through the pain, others have criticized him for turning away and refusing to continue after a Lara punch created grotesque swelling around Angulo’s left eye in the 10th round of a scheduled 12-rounder at StubHub Center.
Angulo’s explanation after the fight was that he didn’t quit, that he simply turned around to tell trainer Virgil Hunter he had been thumbed in his left eye. Angulo told USA Today that Lara used “dirty” tactics, but there was not video evidence to support Angulo’s claim of getting thumbed in the eye.
Angulo has not fought since losing to Lara. Alvarez (42-1-1, 30 KOs) will fight for the first time since losing a one-sided, 12-round decision to undefeated superstar Floyd Mayweather Jr. (45-0, 26 KOs) on Sept. 14 in Las Vegas.
Keith Idec covers boxing for The Record and Herald News, of Woodland Park, N.J., and BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.