From the moment they took off their shirts, the mismatch was evident. Angulo, with the thin body of an aging man, Alvarez , taught and muscular. Pre-fight in the ring, Alvarez pacing around, game face on, hopping up and down, looking anxious. From the opening bell, judging by the fighter’s first attacks, you could tell what was bound to happen. Canelo’s first flurry of punches were momentum hooks and straights thrown with full power and perfect form. So crisp, so fluid. Angulo’s head snapping back as he took several blows to the head right on the button. When Angulo fired off his shots, they were duds. Slow and with half of the power of Alvarez’s shots. Canelo shelled up and blocked most of the meager attacks early in the fight. As the first round went on, each of Canelo’s flurries were thrown with full conviction, obviously on a mission to erase the picture of his last defeat. In the corner of Angulo after the first round, Virgil Hunter asked if the punches were hurting. Nothing fake about Angulo, he responded: “yea, a little”.
As the fight went on, Canelo continued to throw fluid and momentous flurries that carried full power. Canelo’s right haymaker looked like Tim Lincecum firing a fastball. Angulo was shelled up and blocking, but with that power, every punch was leaving an imprint. Angulo kept coming forward, throwing lethargic combos that looked like something out of sparring footage. Virgil Hunter did his best to inspire Angulo in between rounds. Hunter, a great communicator and knows how to spiritually connect to his fighters. Canelo began slowing his attack towards the end of round 4. Surely, all those bombs he threw in the early rounds took something out of him. Canelo began to back trot and pick his spots. Angulo kept coming forward trying to engage. But it was the lack of speed and power that Angulo could not overcome. He showed tremendous heart and toughness, but he did not have the intangible athleticism that the younger, more skilled Alvarez had. This became evident later in the fight when Canelo began fighting toe to toe with Angulo, defending with his hands down, dodging and rolling with the punches. Alvarez telling Angulo he could not hurt him. It was a great moment in the fight, both of them taunting each other to hit harder, taking turns dropping combinations while defending with their bodies and movement. But the hits kept adding up on Angulo’s face. His head would snap back and come right back into place like a bobble head. Canelo was throwing combos as if he were throwing them against a punching bag. He was throwing with full strength because he knew the target would be there. It was too easy. Completely opposite of fighting a Floyd Mayweather. You can’t throw a punch with one hundred percent power against Mayweather because you don’t know if he’s going to still be there. Chances are, you’ll miss, look silly, be out of position, and consequently get popped in the face.
This was exactly the type of fighter Canelo needed to fight to regain his swagger. And he certainly did. Angulo is heart and persistence. He’ll take your punishment until you can’t dish out anymore, and then he’ll get you. Unfortunately for him, Canelo is a young stallion that can go the distance. The final punch of the fight was a telegraphed, full power uppercut from Canelo that landed on the button. Angulo took it like he took the rest. It snapped his head back, and bobbled right back into place. But this time, you could see in his eyes that it took an extra second or two for his brain to regain consciousness. A great stoppage by referee Tony Weeks. As Angulo showed anger over the stoppage, I couldn’t help but think of the current day Muhammad Ali. The promoter’s got what they wanted, exactly what they expected. The fans got what they wanted, toe to toe. Canelo got what he wanted. A strong message to his fans, peers, and critics.