Controversial stoppage can't cloud Canelo Alvarez's dominant win

Kevin Iole
Controversial stoppage can't cloud Canelo Alvarez's dominant win

LAS VEGAS – For a guy who did just about everything perfectly on Saturday, Canelo Alvarez heard plenty of boos. He entered the ring at the MGM Grand Garden for his bout with Alfredo Angulo to an unfamiliar chorus of boos from the sellout crowd of 14,160.

And he left it with the crowd in a full-throated hissy fit, hurling trash and drinks toward the ring.

But in between, Alvarez gave the fans plenty to cheer about in a magnificent performance that helped erase the bad memories of his September loss to Floyd Mayweather Jr.

That bout sold 2.2 million on pay-per-view, in large part because so many Alvarez fans believed he'd become the first man to defeat Mayweather. He couldn't do it and landed little of consequence, angering a large portion of his vast fan base.

They let him hear it on the way to the ring Saturday, but he responded like a top-flight champion. Only seconds into the bout, he cracked Angulo with a blistering left hook, setting the tone for what would be a dominant, superstar-caliber effort.

The fans became irate when referee Tony Weeks stopped the bout 47 seconds into the 10th round after a perfectly placed Alvarez uppercut.

That was the only blight on an otherwise brilliant night for the freckle-faced star who re-established himself as a big-time performer. The punch statistics were overwhelmingly, almost stunningly, one-sided.

Alvarez landed 295 of the 513 punches he threw, an astounding 58 percent. Many of those were powerful right hands that could have knocked down a small house and served to show what a great chin Angulo has.

He wouldn't admit it, but somewhere in the back of his mind, Alvarez had to be thinking that if he'd been this aggressive and fought this well against Mayweather, things may have turned out differently.

But he's wise beyond his years and he wouldn't bite on that.

"They're two different styles and two different fighters," Alvarez said. "I tried to do many things in that fight, and I couldn't. But that's in the past and it is going to stay in the past. Right now is the moment."

The ending was the only thing that wasn't just about perfect for Alvarez. After the ninth round, Weeks and the ringside physician went into Angulo's corner and had a chat with trainer Virgil Hunter.

Weeks warned them he was on the verge of stopping it, and Hunter said he'd stop it as soon as Alvarez landed a combination.

As soon as Alvarez landed the uppercut that snapped Angulo's head violently back, Weeks jumped in and stopped it. Garbage, mostly beer, rained down on the ring from angry fans.

It robbed Alvarez of the natural and clear finish, but it was obvious that Angulo wasn't going to win the fight. He absorbed so much punishment, he didn't attend the post-fight news conference and made a trip to a local hospital to be checked out.

"I thought it was a very tough, tough fight for Alfredo," Hunter said. "It was very tough for me also witnessing that fight. I really care about him as an individual.

"As far as the stoppage is concerned, I am somewhat disappointed. The reason why is I informed Tony after the ninth round that if Canelo landed two or three punches in combination, that I personally would stop the fight."

Angulo won the eighth on all three cards and seemed to at least be making it more of a fight at that stage. Hunter said he thought Alvarez was fighting off his back foot and that may have created an opening for Angulo.

"His hands were starting to come down and he was on his back foot at the time," Hunter said. "He was starting to put himself into a position where it gave Alfredo an opportunity. Basically, that's what we needed, a window of opportunity."

Whatever window there was, it was slammed shut by the uppercut. Alvarez had gotten the well-deserved win and was off to think about bigger and better things.

He plans to fight in July, and said he'd love to fight the winner of the June middleweight bout between Sergio Martinez and Miguel Cotto at some point this year.

Cuban Erislandy Lara came to the dais to challenge Alvarez and told him that everyone wants to see a fight between them. But the young Alvarez one-upped him with a quick wit.

Alvarez asked those in the room if they wanted to see him fight Lara. There was only a small smattering of applause.

"I think that was your manager," Alvarez said.

It was that kind of night for Alvarez, who erased the stain of the loss to Mayweather and reminded everyone why so many felt he might have been the man to finally defeat the pound-for-pound king.

Earlier in the day, Mayweather said that Alvarez was on a different level than Angulo.

"He's strong, smart, he can box," Mayweather said in tribute.

Alvarez proved him prescient a few hours later, boxing smartly and landing a series of withering blows.

It couldn't have been a better night if he had scripted it.

Alvarez led all three cards at the time of the stoppage. Craig Metcalfe and Dave Moretti had it 89-82, giving Alvarez all but the eighth. Jerry Roth gave Angulo the seventh and eighth and had it 88-83 for Alvarez. Yahoo Sports favored Alvarez 89-82, giving Angulo the eighth.

This fight wasn't about rounds won, though. It was about power and strength and reestablishing a brand.

Alvarez faced the perfect opponent and came up with a near-perfect performance, just when he needed it most.