Aftermath: Alvarez vs. Angulo
By Jay McIntyre: “Gameness” is a term used by people that train dogs in the highly controversial sport of dog fighting. It describes a dog’s ability to “make the scratch” (come out of their corner to fight), without flinching or showing cowardice. These dogs do not have to be the largest, nor do they have to inflict the most damage. In fact the winner in many cases simply needs to be one that is unwilling to quit and will continue to make the scratch.
With this in mind, Alfredo Angulo’s nickname “El Perro” seems rather apt. He does not quit and he fights with a courage under fire that makes for entertainment (the stoppage to Lara was understandable given the effects to his eye).
However, while I admire his tenacity, I do hope that this unwavering determination does not have a way of inadvertently hurting him in the long run. The main event of the evening was not as closely contested as it could have been, as Saul Alvarez (42-1-1, 31 KO’s) was able to implement a near perfect game plan and bludgeoned the underdog Alfredo Angulo (22-4, 18 KO’s) with relative impunity. It was a fight that slowly got harder to watch as Angulo struggled to reciprocate the damage was receiving. Perhaps more notable than anything, tonight we bore witness to the importance of having a referee that is truly sensitive to what the fighters are experiencing and although some may besmirch Tony Weeks’ judgment, I find myself nodding in solemn approval. Let’s have a look at what led to Alvarez’s tenth round stoppage over Angulo.
Alvarez was able to punch hard and punch often. I think it is safe to say that neither man had faced the kind of power that the other possessed leading into last night’s event. However, it was Alvarez that was moving forward and controlling the fight – a role usually assumed by Angulo. Angulo did not have the defense when fighting on the outside and was picked apart by Alvarez in such circumstances for the entire night. Part of what makes him an effective puncher (besides his power) is the way in which he varies the levels and angles of his strikes.
In addition to his effective combination punching, when Alvarez was fighting with Angulo on the inside he blocked many shots with his arms, and slipped and rode others so that he was affected very little by them. This conserved his stamina, while denying Angulo from getting any traction.
For Angulo, unfortunately, not much worked. However I did manage to notice some decent head movement very rarely which, when employed, was pretty effective. Part of what gives Alvarez his power is his tendency to throw many of his punches with severe conviction. These cost stamina, as the energy must come from somewhere and missing those kinds of punches cost a lot more. When Angulo did use evasive head movement he was pretty successful in keeping Alvarez from racking up damage. Unfortunately, this was far too infrequent to make any difference whatsoever.
One other things that Angulo did early on, though he seemed to abandon it for most of the fight was his use of the jab to move Alvarez back. Alvarez did not seem to counter the jab that often when Angulo did throw it, so I am not sure why he chose to abandon something that could have been a useful primer for his aggression.
What didn’t work?
I am not sure what Angulo’s game plan might have been. He seemed willing to let Alvarez take the lead and perhaps this was done wit the hope that he would tire later on. Part of what made the stoppage so controversial to some (not me) was that we never got to see if Angulo could have taken over in the last two rounds. Statistically, Angulo gets most of his KO wins much earlier in his fights, so if I may refer to the trend, I did not see the fight changing much in the closing frames of the evening.
Angulo’s tentative nature ultimately let Alvarez pick his shots on the outside and always gave him an angle to escape. The Angulo that was able to bully the elusive Lara to the ropes and inflict some attritional harm simply did not seem to show up last night. Typically, Angulo is a crowder, when someone throws a hook it will sail harmlessly past him as he moves in. However when Angulo doesn’t fight aggressively, he becomes a sitting duck – the hooks land on him and other opportunities are given to his opponents to get to work.
What have we learned?
Some fighters are predictable in what they do, but are so good at it that it is hard to stop. Everyone knew Joe Frazier was going to move at you, duck, and slam left hooks into your face and gut, and yet only two men were able to beat him. If Joe Frazier all of a sudden decided to fight off the back foot we would have seen a lot more losses on his record. Angulo is great at what he does and yet, for whatever reason, he chose to not get in his opponent’s face from the opening bell and stay there. Was it part of his overall stratagem? Was it the strong punching of Alvarez? Could it have been some intangible in his mind going into this fight? I cannot say, but as I enjoy watching him fight, and wish him only the best after boxing, I hope that he continues to seek to improve as a boxer under the esteemed tutelage of Virgil Hunter.
Although the fight proved to be a relatively easy one for Alvarez we cannot overlook the fact that he does have the skills and talent to go far in boxing. What he does, he does well, and his game plans often allow him to maximize the opportunities to employ those strengths. Alvarez still tries to find ways to take time off between rounds. I wouldn’t say that it was constant or flagrant in this fight by any stretch, but he clearly was slowing down (though, who can blame him given the punch output and pace of the fight). Letting Angulo punching at him along the ropes in an effort to tire out Angulo was also a hidden way to save some energy for himself. Later in round 9 he stood in the front of the ring with his hands down in what looked to some to be posturing. Looking deeper, consider how tiring it is to keep your hands at your shoulders for nine rounds, all the throwing and receiving punches. Putting his hands down not only rested his shoulders, it also allowed for faster head movement as his centre of gravity is lowered. He also blatantly shoved Angulo a few times to create some space when he was not moving as quickly as he was earlier on in the fight. All the greats know how to save energy, but that cloud regarding his stamina will continue to hover over his head going into more of his fights at 154 pounds. He did have a last minute renegotiation about the fight weight, so that extra pound might have served him well last night too.
Where do we go from here?
Alvarez seems primed to take the Cotto-Martinez winner, while Angulo looks to recuperate and see what matches can await him. Both men were at a cross-roads last night and Alvarez emerged as the clear victor. While Angulo is still a marketable name and game opponent, he will probably get a tune-up fight next and seek to re-establish some momentum to his career. He is fortunate that he is surrounded by a mixed bunch of fighters of different styles at Virgil Hunter’s gym. While he lost, there should be no shame in losing to one of the best fighters in the light middleweight division. Alvarez’s stock will continue to soar, but given his payment of $100,000 dollars to Angulo to adjust the weight limit of the fight from 154 to 155, his days are probably numbered in the light middleweight division. If he is only 23 and is already struggling with weight issues, this problem will not be resolved with age. Expect to see Alvarez move up to 160 pounds and battle some of the talent in the middleweight division in the not-to-distant future.
This article is an abbreviated one, lacking the requisite pictures and discussion found on my blog at: http://a-neutral-corner.blogspot.ca/2014/03/aftermath-alvarez-vs-angulo.html Please feel free to visit the blog for a more thorough analysis.
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