Alfredo Angulo asserts that he will be the biggest, strongest and hardest-punching fighter that former junior middleweight champ Canelo Alvarez will have faced when the Mexican rivals meet on March 8 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, site of Alvarez's first career loss to Floyd Mayweather Jr. in September.
Angulo (22-3, 18 knockouts), a well-traveled 31-year-old veteran, scored two knockdowns during his exciting 10th-round stoppage loss to Erislandy Lara last June.
Other than left-hander Austin Trout, whom Alvarez dropped in the seventh-round of a unanimous decision victory in April, Alvarez had been criticized for largely taking on undersized competition such as Josesito Lopez and Alfonso Gomez, and for facing past-their-prime or over-the-hill fighters such as former welterweight beltholders Shane Mosley, Carlos Baldomir, and Kermit Cintron. Alvarez knocked out Lopez, Gomez, Baldomir and Cintron, and unanimously decisioned Mosley.
"I don't like to say who is and who isn't a real fighter," said Angulo, whose career has been mostly contested as a junior middleweight, unlike Mayweather, also THE RING 147-pound champion.
"But I know that both in size and in weight and power, that I'm a real 154-pounder, and I believe that I'm the first one in this weight class with that combination of experiences to be facing Canelo."
Lara (19-1-2, 12 KOs) had also lobbied for a shot at the 23-year-old Alvarez (42-1-1, 30 KOs) after vanquishing Trout, whom he floored in the 11th round of a unanimous decision in December.
"Let’s get into the ring…I’m the best fighter at 154 pounds, and I’m going to continue to show that to the world," said Lara, 30, during an interview with RingTV.com after his triumph over Alvarez.
"I hope that it happens, 100 percent…I hope that they work on it. But the reality is that if Canelo doesn’t fight me, then Canelo is scared. There are no ifs ands or buts about it. If Canelo doesn’t step up to the plate like he did against Austin Trout, then he’s a joke, plain and simple. He’s a joke."
Angulo isn't sure whether Alvarez or Lara is the better fighter.
"Lara is an amazing fighter with a great record and he's a great technical fighter who comes from that Cuban style, which is very difficult," said Angulo.
"Lara has a lot of good fights under his belt. But Canelo has also proven to be a great fighter, and he's also very dangerous. I think that any fighter in the ring is a dangerous opponent."
The loss to Lara ended a two-bout winning streak for Angulo since being knocked out by James Kirkland in November of 2011. Angulo rode a streak of five straight knockout victories into his clash with Kirkland, his only loss at the time being a unanimous decision favoring Cintron in May of 2009.
Between the Kirkland and Casarez fights, Angulo was forced to take a long layoff due to an eight-month stay at the El Centro Detention Center, located just under 14 miles from the U.S.-Mexico border, for having “overstayed his U.S. visa,” according to his manager and counsel, Michael Miller.
"This means that Alfredo still is relevant," said Miller of Angulo, who was released in August of 2012 after winning his court case. "It means that he's getting a great opportunity to go and prove to the world that he's still got what it takes to step up to the plate again against the world's most elite fighters in this weight category."
Angulo will face Alvarez in his fourth fight under former Trainer of the Year Virgil Hunter, who is most known for guiding the career of RING super middleweight champion Andre Ward, a 2004 Olympic gold medalist who was named Fighter of The Year for 2011 by the Boxing Writers’ Association of America.
"I've heard Canelo say that he believes that I'm the only fighter right now who can actually give him a real contest," said Angulo. "I've heard Canelo say that he knows that it's not going to be an easy fight and that he's prepared to fight a dangerous fighter, which is what I am."
Angulo will get no argument about that from Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer.
"With Angulo, he had dropped Lara a couple of times and was ahead on the cards when the freaky injury happened, and so he's motivated because he knows that this is a must-win night for him," said Schaefer, "and Canelo knows that it's also a must-win night for him also. So both guys have a lot of pride, both guys will show a lot of heart, and those two guys don't like each other. So there's definitely going to be a little bit of everything."
Translation by Lucy Haro
Lem Satterfield can be reached at [email protected]