Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun
Sunday, March 9, 2014 | 3 a.m.
Saul “Canelo” Alvarez exuded extraordinary calm in the face of an elite fighter confronting him on multiple occasions Saturday night.
First came Alfredo Angulo, whom attacked Alvarez as advertised in their pay-per-view bout at the MGM Grand Garden Arena and received 295 piercing punches for his willingness. Alvarez dispatched Angulo via TKO 47 seconds into the 10th round when referee Tony Weeks called the fight.
The next boxer Alvarez sent away without getting what he wanted was more unexpected. Fellow light middleweight standout Erislandy Lara approached Alvarez and crashed the post-fight press conference with a question.
“Everybody wants to see us fight,” Lara said in Spanish, according to Alvarez’s translator. “When can you and I fight?”
Alvarez stood his ground, staying stoic behind the podium but not turning the incident into something more than warranted. He bantered back at Lara briefly before bending his head towards the microphone.
“This is not how you make fights,” Alvarez responded, “so you’ll have to wait.”
The 23-year-old from Guadalajara, Mexico, will need to get used to fighters calling him out for the foreseeable future. Alvarez re-established what everyone believed about him before getting picked apart by Floyd Mayweather Jr., in a unanimous-decision loss last September: That he’s the future of boxing.
When the likes of Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao inevitably end their careers in the coming years, the charismatic redhead is the heavy favorite to carry the sport. Alvarez will fight on the biggest cards, command the greatest attention and sell the most pay-per-views.
In turn, he’ll attract the most suitors pining to step in the ring opposite him to capitalize on a pay and notoriety increase that’s guaranteed.
“He is a star,” said Richard Schaefer, the CEO of Golden Boy Promotions, which promotes Alvarez. “You saw that. He fills up these venues, and you’ve seen the ways people react. He doesn’t need to wait for anybody. He’s always going to fight the best available fighters.”
Lara, the WBA champion, would make for a practical next opponent, but a complication exists. Mayweather announced earlier Saturday that Lara would meet Las Vegas native Ishe Smith — whom Mayweather promotes — on May 2, the night before “Money” defends his title against Marcos Maidana.
Schaefer has hinted at the winner of a June 7 bout between Sergio Martinez and Miguel Cotto at Madison Square Garden as an ideal challenge, but that might not work on Alvarez’s timetable.
“In July, I’m ready to fight,” Alvarez promised. “I’m not going to wait for nobody.”
He shouldn’t have to considering how little damage he sustained against Angulo. Alvarez evaded 86 percent of Angulo’s punches.
“El Perro” found no success outside of the eighth round, where he rallied by blasting Alvarez with repeated combinations against the ropes to win the frame on all three judges’ scorecards.
Alvarez got right back to inflicting destruction akin to a monster truck encountering muscle car after Angulo’s small window of success. He added to the disfiguration of Angulo’s face so much in the ninth round that ringside officials nearly stopped the fight before the 10th ever began.
Angulo amazingly stayed upright all night, including when Alvarez found him with the fight-ending uppercut. That made the finish controversial among fans in the arena, but Angulo’s trainer Virgil Hunter even admitted to being close to throwing in the towel while protesting the stoppage. It was clear the direction the fight was headed.
Alvarez spent nearly 25 minutes forcing anyone who thought he might be overrated after the Mayweather debacle to wonder why they ever entertained those thoughts.
“There’s a saying, ‘as long as you learn, you didn’t lose,’” Alvarez said. “I learned a lot from that fight. Things didn’t go as planned but that’s in the past. I’m looking in the future, and I’m happy with how things went. I stood in there toe to toe and I didn’t feel his punches. I felt my punches were stronger.”
Now the task becomes who to share them with next — and where. Alvarez spoke highly of the MGM, where three of his last four fights have taken place, but Schaefer emphasized he had other options.
Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones is interested in hosting an Alvarez fight at the massive AT&T Stadium, according to Schaefer, who says he’s also fielded inquiries from places in Europe. Alvarez memorably sold out the 40,000-capactiy Alamodome in San Antonio last year when he defeated Austin Trout.
Like the list of potential challengers, Alvarez’s opportunities seem endless.
“He’s an international star,” Schaefer said. “There’s a lot of possibilities.”