It was a gesture that revealed the bond between the two men: with a microphone in his face, trainer Virgil Hunter argued that his fighter, Alfredo Angulo, was indeed coming on at the time of the stoppage, and he called on the crowd at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada, to support him, if not to strengthen his claim, than to console a beaten man, to help Angulo preserve his reputation and the confidence he draws from it. And it was a gesture sorely needed, because junior middleweight Saul Alvarez had just put the finishing touches on a one-sided thrashing of Angulo that culminated in a tenth-round TKO.
In Angulo, Alvarez was facing the stylistic antithesis of Floyd Mayweather, Jr.—the defensive wizard with the hand speed of a pistol shrimp—who schooled Alvarez last September. But with a steel jaw and bricks in his gloves, Angulo had a reputation for planting the kind of doubt in opponent’s that turns purple and lasts for weeks. Boasting advantages in speed and mobility, and with far less mileage on his body, Alvarez, Juanacatlan, Mexico, was expected to try and chip away at the boulder before it started its inevitable roll downhill. “Canelo” did one better, and turned it to rubble before it ever got moving.
To evade Angulo is to let him come forward, and however effective this evasion may prove, it still concedes “Perro’s” first command: Sic ‘em. Instead, Alvarez stood his ground against Angulo from the outset, using crisp, fluid combinations to back the stalking fighter up. Angulo, Coachella, California via Mexico, revved his engines plenty, but Alvarez refused to let him out of neutral. Without his offense, there is very little remarkable about Angulo beyond his ability to absorb punishment; it boded poorly for him that in the early rounds, this durability was his defining feature.
As determined as he is durable, Angulo, 154 ½, tried to get his body attack on track by peppering lighter shots upstairs before loading up on hooks to Alvarez’ torso. It was a wrinkle that worked only a handful of times before Alvarez countered the setup punches with right hands that provided him long looks at Angulo’s profile. When Angulo managed to get inside, Alvarez, 155, outworked him, ripping him with uppercuts, taxing the plodding fighter even more than what Angulo paid for gaining such proximity. Even when he landed, Angulo’s punches lacked zip because Alvarez, in refusing to back down, kept Angulo from gathering his feet beneath him. There were moments for Angulo when Alvarez lingered on the ropes, but like a man with a stutter, he was unable to articulate his intentions. Before Alvarez’ stamina became a factor he had already slugged the fight out of Angulo, and a comprehensive beating was complete. After seeing Angulo rocked by an uppercut, referee Tony Weeks waived the fight off at 0:47 of the tenth round. The decision was loudly booed, but really, regardless of his reputation, Angulo had done little over the previous nine rounds to set the stage for the dramatic except make the dramatic appear practically impossible. Alvarez was too much for him.
It was a dominant performance from Alvarez, 43-1-1 (31), who, despite taking his first loss hard, exhibited no lingering effects from being undressed by Mayweather last year. If he remains at junior middleweight a fight with the self-proclaimed “Most Avoided Man In Boxing” Erislandy Lara, makes a lot of sense: Lara’s braying has garnered him some support, and a fight between him and Alvarez could be whipped into a grudge match with but a little contrived agitation. Alvarez-Lara is a decent fight, whether it is pay-per-view worthy—where Alvarez’ next two fights are headed—is up to consumers to decide.
As for Angulo, his style and demeanor promised a short career, and the seven months he spent in an ICE detention center in 2012 didn’t help. He has slowed considerably, placing greater emphasis on his durability, and even that is leaving him: Angulo, 22-4 (18), has been stopped in two fights in a row, and in three of his four losses. He is an entertaining fighter who has come up short against his best opponents, and his rate of decline is loosening the criteria for what his best opponents might be. Of course, worse has been done Angulo than what Alvarez accomplished Saturday night, he has suffered greater losses; awareness of that fact, and the perspective it provides, should inform his next move.