- Action Photo © German Villasenor, MaxBoxing
- CANELO RED DEVIL by Chee, MaxBoxing
Article By Steve Kim
The boos cascaded from the rafters of the sold-out MGM Grand Garden Arena - as did the beer (or at least we all hope that was just Corona) - as referee Tony Weeks suddenly waved off the bout between Saul “Canelo” Alvarez and Alfredo Angulo after a uppercut sent Angulo’s head snapping back at the beginning of the 10th round. Mexican blood was boiling as the natives felt this fight was halted prematurely. You can make an argument that perhaps with the toughness and heavy hands of “El Perro,” he deserved to fight on.
But it says here Weeks absolutely made the right call. Angulo was a beaten dog who didn’t need to take any more of the steady shellacking he was getting on this night. And the reality is, after a bit of a rally in a back-and-forth eighth, Alvarez had clearly reestablished control of the fight in the ninth frame with a series of hard rights and left hooks downstairs that left Angulo dazed and disoriented.
And while anything can happen in the ring, all the momentum had shifted back to Alvarez. It seemed destined that he was on his way to either stopping Angulo or continue the onslaught he had put on him from the very beginning. Weeks, a veteran referee who’s been around the block, should not be questioned. In fact, he should be praised. In the wake of what took place last year (with Magomed Abdusalamov and Franky Leal among others), we are reminded that boxing, for all its gladiatorial tendencies, should not be a blood sport.
At the time, the scorecards had Alvarez well ahead going into the last three innings (89-82, twice, and 88-83) and there was no real indication that this was going to be a reprisal of Julio Cesar Chavez-Meldrick Taylor I. The chances of a miraculous comeback were slim and the probability that Angulo was going to soak up dozens of more leather-filled volleys from Alvarez was high. Yeah, if this fight was close, you could argue that Weeks made a terrible decision. The margin on the cards just reaffirmed what a wise move he made in pulling the plug.
Weeks made a courageous call by not making this a per-per-execution and understanding that with his unpopular decision, the bloodthirsty audience would come down on him. It’s the nature of this job to make judgments you know will be derided by the paying public. He did what Angulo’s corner, led by Virgil Hunter, wouldn’t (though, fairly, it was threatened) do: save him from unnecessary damage and give him an opportunity to fight another day.
Alvarez, who was showered by debris after the fight as he headed back to the locker room stated, “The referee is the marshal. He has the orders; he’s the chief. He stopped the fight because he knew what was going on. I was doing my job. I was so secure in my job and my stamina was there. Of course, I was a little tired boxing but I was ready to finish the fight and even go 10 more rounds.”
Naturally, the defeated Angulo had a differing view, stating, “I’m upset because they should’ve let the fight go on. I’m frustrated; they should’ve let it go to the end. I’m fine and I was fighting. The referee was wrong this time.”
You can empathize with his deep frustration. Angulo, who has absorbed many personal setbacks outside the ring, is a man who has to make boxing work. He isn’t going to be a doctor or an accountant after this is over. Boxing isn’t just what he does; it’s what he is in many ways. Angulo is a prizefighter full of pride but on this night, he needed to be rescued from himself and perhaps his own corner that might have had misguided visions of him coming on late and overtaking Alvarez. And this time around, “Canelo” actually showed a second-wind in the later rounds.
One day, whether he’ll ever state it publicly or now, Angulo will thank Weeks for making discretion the better part of valor. That fight had gotten bad and was only getting worse for him. From the very beginning of the fight, Angulo had been beaten to the punch and hit with hard right crosses and the 23-year-old established his left hook to the body from the early seconds of the fight. In fact, he was the dominant fighter from both the perimeter of the ring and on the inside. “I was in his territory. I was able to go toe-to-toe with him,” said a satisfied Alvarez.
Angulo has never been a fighter with much quickness but on this night, he was even slower and more ponderous in his movements than usual. It was almost as if he were underwater and for much of the night, it seemed “Canelo” could see Angulo’s slow-motion attacks coming his way and react to them accordingly. He just looked like an old 31, one who had aged years since his strong outing against Erislandy Lara last June. On the flipside, Alvarez - who has always had good, functional speed - just kept beating Angulo to the punch, landing at will with sharp combinations. While he struggled against the stealthy Floyd Mayweather in September, going from that type of challenge to what he faced this past weekend in front of the crowd of 14,610 at the MGM Grand was like facing Sandy Koufax one day and then playing slow-pitch softball the next.
“Tonight I was the better fighter. I definitely rebounded from the Mayweather fight with my performance. I’m happy I did my job,” said Alvarez, who moved to 43-1-1 (31).
At age 23, the future seems very bright for Alvarez, who is already one of the sport’s legitimate stars. Now, whether he can really carry a pay-per-view event as the A-side remains to be seen but make no doubt about it; this is a talented young fighter with good all-around skills and a certain poise inside that ring. Some may begrudge his marketability and how he hasn’t been afraid to capitalize on it but this kid can fight a bit.
And he’s going to be around awhile.
There seems to be a bit of a monotonous quality now to the career of Leo Santa Cruz, who once again successfully defended his WBC 122-pound title by easily outpointing Cristian Mijares over 12 one-sided rounds. Santa Cruz has beaten a litany of aged fighters whose best days are in their rearview mirrors or no-hopers who were there essentially to pad his record. Santa Cruz is a crowd-pleasing fighter whose popularity has grown the past couple of years but you get the sense now that it’s time for him to face a marquee name in his division who’s in his physical prime.
And that could come in the form of Carl Frampton, the highly regarded and undefeated 17-0 (12) super bantamweight from the U.K.
“It’s up to my manager, my promoter but I want him next,” said Santa Cruz, when asked about this possibility. “This is a dream come true.”
With his victory over Nihito Arakawa on Saturday night, Jorge Linares is now in line to face Omar Figueroa for the WBC interim lightweight title...Erislandy Lara will defend his WBA interim junior middleweight title against Ishe Smith on May 2nd in Las Vegas...Abner Mares says he is having second thoughts on moving up to 130 pounds and facing Takashi Miura for the WBC title on the Mayweather-Marcos Maidana card...Who has a higher NBA upside, Jabari Parker or Andrew Wiggins?...We’re not too far away from the next season of “Game of Thrones,” right?...So is Russell Westbrook the only guy who can consistently stop Kevin Durant from scoring?…Ican be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and I tweet at www.twitter.com/stevemaxboxing. We also have a Facebook fan page at www.facebook.com/MaxBoxing, where you can discuss our content with Maxboxing readers as well as chime in via our fully interactive article comments sections.