Canelo Alvarez looked a bit bored during the final press conference for this fight with Alfredo Angulo. The Mexican star admitted that he's tired of answering questions about the fight and ready to get into the ring.
LAS VEGAS – Canelo Alvarez didn’t say much during the final press conference for his showdown with Alfredo Angulo. The 23-year-old Mexican star spent less than 5 minutes behind the podium and ended it by saying “talk is cheap.”
Alvarez’ line wasn’t directed at his opponent or even at Angulo’s trainer, Virgil Hunter, who dramatically stated that the junior middleweight fight would be a “savage, savage affair” when it was his turn to talk during the Thursday media event at the Hollywood Theatre inside the MGM Grand, the site of Saturday’s Showtime Pay Per View event.
What Alvarez meant was that there’s nothing more to say about the fight.
The daily media events and interviews have become monotonous to Alvarez, who is looking rebound from the first loss of his career, a one-sided decision to Floyd Mayweather Jr. last September.
“It’s not so much that the interviews are boring, it’s just that I’m asked the same questions over and over again and I give the same answers,” Alvarez (42-1-1, 30 knockouts) said through translator Robert Diaz, of Golden Boy Promotions.
“There’s not much more to say at this point. I just want to fight. I just want to get in the ring and make something happen so I can have something different to say.”
What he hopes to tell the media after the fight is “Wow, what a great fight, that was tough, but I knew I would prevail.”
When the fight was first made, most fans and boxing insiders thought Alvarez would do just that – beat Angulo in an entertaining fight.
However, now that the fight is a few days away, the consensus is that it will still be an entertaining scrap, but more fans and members of the media are picking Angulo (22-3, 18 KOs) to win.
They figure Alvarez has never faced anyone who could impose his will and strength on him – and nobody in the 154-pound division is as effective in breaking down his opponents as Angulo, a 30-year-old pressure fighter who represented Mexico in the 2004 Olympics.
Angulo’s relentless pressure and left hooks to the body and head almost broke down Erislandy Lara in his last fight. Lara, who many hardcore fans consider the best 154-pound boxer in the game next to Mayweather, was dropped twice before forcing Angulo to stop due to an accumulation of tissue damage around his eyes.
The armchair Eddie Futches of the Twitterverse theorize if an elite boxer like Lara can’t keep Angulo off him, what chance does Alvarez have? Bottom line: Alvarez might be the most popular boxer in North America behind Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao, but hardcore fans and boxing writers still aren’t sold on his boxing ability.
Angulo feels the same way. Although Alvarez has 19 more pro bouts than he does, Angulo views the redhead as “untested” and he sees the younger man’s popularity as the result of careful marketing and matchmaking – not due to talent.
Alvarez doesn’t agree with the criticism.
“I don’t know why (Angulo) said that about me,” he told reporters after Thursday’s presser. “Take a close look at his career and who he’s fought. I don’t see that he’s faced much better opponents than I have.”
Alvarez has a point. Angulo has stoppage victories over a lot of solid opponents, including Joel Julio, Joachim Alcine and a young Gabriel Rosado, but the two top contenders he’s faced so far – James Kirkland and Lara – have stopped him.
Alvarez has wins against older and naturally smaller former champs Shane Mosley and Carlos Baldomir and one top-10 rated contender, then-undefeated Austin Trout, but most of the opponents on his record were supposed to lose at the time he fought them, including former welterweight titleholder Kermit Cintron, who he stopped in five rounds in November of 2011. A fresher version of Cintron outpointed Angulo in May of 2009.
“I’m where I am because of my hard work,” Alvarez said. “I’m fighting on Showtime pay per view at the MGM Grand because of what I achieved on my way up. It’s a big responsibility and a lot of pressure but I’ve always received it with open arms. I welcome challenges.”
Another challenge awaits on Saturday, one that is different from the technical and tactical problems that Mayweather and, to a lesser degree, Trout presented him.
“Angulo is very dangerous,” Alvarez said. “He doesn’t care if he gets hit as long as he can land one punch, and he can change the fight with just one punch.”
Alvarez admits that he’s never faced an opponent as physical and determined as Angulo.
“Some people have asked me if his style is similar to those of Baldomir or Cintron,” Alvarez said. “No, no his style is different. Angulo keeps coming, round after round, breaking you down. And he’s hard to break down. He’s going to be hard to knockout.”
That doesn’t mean that Alvarez won’t try. He’s knows he’s going to have to plant his feet and fight Angulo at some point during the bout.
“I’m going to go in there with a clear head, no emotions, and do what I’ve prepared to do, but styles make fights,” Alvarez said. “Our styles are made for action. I can box but I can also punch. I don’t think this is going to be a tactical fight.”
After the dealing with the boredom of endless fight-week interviews, the last thing Alvarez wants to do is bore his fans.
The IBF junior middleweight title bout between defending beltholder Carlos Molina and undefeated prospect Jermall Charlos, which was to kick-off the four-bout pay-per-view broadcast, is in jeopardy after Molina was arrested and jailed on Tuesday.
Molina was arrested due to sex offense charges that have been pending in Wisconsin since 2007.
News that he was being detained in Clark County Detention Center, in part due to an immigration hold (he was born in Mexico), was a surprise to all who have been covering the Canelo-Angulo event, however, if the veteran isn’t able to work out his legal problems in time to fight it won’t be a huge blow to the pay-per-view promotion.
Of all the notable fighters on Saturday’s card, Molina (22-5-2, 6 KOs), a crafty technician who has victories over Ishe Smith and Cintron and held Lara to a draw, has the least fan-friendly style.
If the Molina-Charlo fight is scrapped, an undercard bout between Alvarez’s younger brother Ricardo Alvarez and former 130-pound title challenger Sergio Thompson will take its place on the PPV broadcast. Both Alvarez and Thompson are aggressive, gutsy fighters. There’s little doubt that it will provide more action than Molina-Charlo would have.
“I have to tell you that from a pure entertainment point of view, it probably would be an upgrade to the pay-per-view card,” Golden Boy Promotions CEO Richard Schaefer said during Thursday’s press conference. “I'm not saying that because of Charlo, by the way. So, we're going to leave it at that.”
Charlo (17-0, 13 KOs) says he’s not going to let his guard down.
“My hope is that it will still happen,” the 23-year-old Houston resident said. “I’m going to stick to my usual fight-week routine, I’m going to prepare for the weigh-in, and I’m going to be at the weigh-in.”
We’ll see if Molina makes it.
If Molina-Charlo is replaced, it won’t be the only substitute bout on the PPV broadcast. The Jorge Linares-Nihito Arakawa WBC lightweight title elimination bout replaced the Omar Figueroa-Ricardo Alvarez fight that was postponed due to a hand injury suffered by Figueroa.
Linares-Arakawa is a worthy substitute. Linares (35-3, 23 KOs) is a gifted boxer with excellent speed, mobility and reflexes, and good power. Arakawa (24-3-1, 16 KOs) isn’t as talented or well-traveled as Linares but what he lacks in athleticism he more than makes up with heart and soul. As he proved in his 12-round war with Figueroa last July, the Japanese southpaw gives his all when he fights.
“I may not have the most experienced record on this card,” Arakawa said through translator Nobu Ikushima, “but I can assure you I will give 100 percent to win the fight.”
Nobody who saw the Figueroa fight doubts Arakawa.
The co-featured bout is a WBC junior featherweight title bout between unbeaten beltholder Leo Santa Cruz and former three-time junior bantamweight titleholder Cristian Mijares. Like the Linares-Arakawa bout, it’s a boxer vs. pressure fighter matchup.
Santa Cruz (26-0-1, 15 KOs) is the pressure fighter. The 25-year-old Angelino is known for his relentless, forward-marching attack and volume punching. Mijares (48-7-2, 22 KOs), a 32-year-old veteran from Durango, Mexico, is the boxer – but the savvy southpaw is an aggressive stylist who is almost as busy as the young champ he’s challenging.
Mijares has just one loss in his last 14 bouts – a close split nod to Victor Terrazas last April – but he’s viewed as a big underdog against Santa Cruz.
Most fans are counting Mijares out because Terrazas, who picked up the vacant WBC 122-pound belt with his razor-thin victory over Mijares, was crushed in just three rounds against Santa Cruz last August.
To his credit, Santa Cruz says he isn’t underestimating Mijares, who knocked out former 122-pound champ Rafael Marquez in 2012.
“I know that styles make fights,” Santa Cruz told RingTV.com. “Just because I knocked out Victor Terrazas doesn’t mean I can knockout Cristian Mijares.
“They have different styles. Terrazas likes to come forward and fight. Mijares is a boxer, plus he’s awkward and he’s a lefty. He throws two- and three-punch combinations and then he moves.”
Santa Cruz admits that he had difficulty solving a similar boxing style with Cesar Seda in December. Santa Cruz outpointed the Puerto Rican southpaw via unanimous decision but Seda did well enough to make the fight close on one of the scorecards (115-112).
“I think I learned from that fight,” Santa Cruz said. “I’ve made some improvements in this camp. I learned that I have to stay on top of a southpaw boxer who moves a lot.
“Hopefully, Mijares doesn’t move around too much. He sounds confident and 100 percent motivated so hopefully that makes him want to stand and fight a little bit.”
The non-televised portion of the undercard will features five unbeaten standouts: junior lightweight contender Will Tomlinson (21-0-1, 12 KOs), of Blacktown, Australia; 2008 Mexican Olympian Francisco Vargas (18-0-1, 13 KOs), who faces once-beaten Abner Cotto (17-1, 8 KOs), of Puerto Rico; 2012 U.S. Olympian Joseph Diaz (8-0, 6 KOs / 9-1 if you count World Series of Boxing bouts); St. Louis prospect Keandre Gibson (8-0-1, 3 KOs); and Australian light heavyweight Steve Lovett (7-0, 5 KOs).
Photos / Naoki Fukuda
Email Fischer at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter at @dougiefischer