By Cliff Rold
Everyone is undefeated until they aren’t.
Alfredo Angulo was undefeated for his first fifteen fights before running into a more experienced former Welterweight titlist in Kermit Cintron and losing a decision. He’s tasted defeat twice since then, both times by stoppage, both times against some of the better Jr. Middleweights around. James Kirkland and Erislandy Lara both had their hands raised, but Angulo got his pound of flesh before it was done.
They were the sort of wars that explain Angulo’s place this Saturday (Showtime PPV, 9 PM EST/6 PM PST). He makes it a show before it’s over but, so far, falters against the best he faces.
Saul “Canelo” Alvarez stayed undefeated longer. The red-headed ticket seller had a long draw against 42 wins before getting a crack at Floyd Mayweather last year. The official verdict was a split decision. The reality was that it took work to objectively give him a round or two on the night.
Angulo has proven he can take a loss and keep winging. What does Alvarez do with defeat?
Let’s go the report cards.
Previous Titles: WBC Light Middleweight (2011-13, 6 Defenses); WBA/Ring Jr. Middleweight (2013)
Weight: 155 lbs.
Average Weight – Last Five Fights: 153. 5 lbs.
Hails from: Juanacatlán, Sinaloa, Mexico
Record: 42-1-1, 30 KO
Record in Major Title Fights: 7-1, 4 KO
Rankings: #1 (Ring Magazine), #2 (BoxingScene, TBRB, ESPN),
Current/Former World Champions/Titlists Faced: 7 (Miguel Vazquez SD4, UD10; Carlos Baldomir KO6; Lovemore N’dou UD12; Kermit Cintron TKO5; Shane Mosley UD12; Austin Trout UD12; Floyd Mayweather L12)
Title/Previous Titles: None
Height: 5’9 ½
Weight: 154.5 lbs.
Average Weight – Last Five Fights: 154 lbs.
Hails from: Coachella, California (Born in Mexico)
Record: 22-3, 18 KO, 2 KOBY
Record in Major Title Fights: 0-1, 1 KOBY in interim title fights
Current/Former World Champions/Titlists Faced: 2 (Kermit Cintron L12; Joachim Alcine KO1)
Pre-Fight: Speed – Alvarez B;
Pre-Fight: Power – Alvarez B+; Angulo A
Pre-Fight: Defense – Alvarez B; Angulo D
Pre-Fight: Intangibles – Alvarez B; Angulo B
Is it fair to argue that, outside Mayweather, Angulo has faced the tougher fare of these battlers at the Jr. Middleweight limit? Alvarez was somewhat protected before facing the capable Austin Trout in a unification bout last year and winning a competitive fight. Trout lost lopsided to Lara in his next fight.
James Kirkland, when he’s right, is a long night for anyone.
Angulo didn’t win there but Alvarez might not have either. In that sense, could Angulo’s chances be underrated here?
He certainly has his assets. Angulo is heavy handed, able to beat on men to wear them down and land single devastating shots as well. While he’s been stopped twice, he took big time punishment in both fights before faltering. His chin and will are superb, a statement on the mental strength he’s forged.
This is, easily, the biggest night of his career. If he can summon the sort of suffer-to-win mentality Antonio Margarito did against Miguel Cotto the first time they fought (putting the tape questions aside, Margarito walked through bombs that night), Alvarez might find his loss column multiplied.
If Alvarez does what he does best, he can make that a tall order. Alvarez has heavy hands too, and his are quite a bit quicker than Angulo’s. Both men go hard to the body but Alvarez is more sudden and thus more explosive when he comes back upstairs. Alvarez wasn’t able to do anything with Mayweather but after seeing the master boxer, Angulo may look like slow motion.
The big issue is how much heat Alvarez has to take. He slips shots well but Angulo has the sort of attack that makes that a moot point. He grinds on opponents. Alvarez has to keep outside and pick spots. That will come natural; Alvarez largely fights in spots anyways. However, what if that comfort zone is violated by a man who has a way of forcing a pace?
Alvarez has been in some exciting fights, but he’s never been in an all-out war with a man his size. This is a night that could force new questions about his ring character.
Every fight he has seems to add miles to the tires of Angulo. He’s willing but weary can’t be far off. Alvarez hasn’t faced many who can put this sort of steady pressure on him and it’s conceivable he will have some moments of duress. Alvarez isn’t as slick as Lara and that didn’t help Lara to stay off the floor. Alvarez’s superior head movement, hand speed, and patience are the keys here. He’ll take punishment but Angulo will take more as the rounds wear on. Later in the fight, the heavy hands of Alvarez will add up for a stoppage victory.
Report Card Picks 2014: 7-5
Cliff Rold is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene and a member of the Transnational Boxing Ratings Board and the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org