Whatever complaints you had about the Canelo Alvarez-Alfredo Angulo pay-per-view, Jesus Soto Karass didn't care. He was having a good shirtless time in Las Vegas.
Oh but you had complaints. I did too, I did too. We'll revisit the appropriateness of some of them, and contemplate what's next for Canelo, what went wrong for Angulo, what a couple D.C.-area prospects were up to and more.
- How good Canelo is. If you want to look like a boxing savant, fight Alfredo Angulo. If you want to look like a boxing idiot, fight Floyd Mayweather. The truth about Alvarez, based on his showing against his last two opponents and overall, is that he's actually pretty good. Yes, Angulo was in poor form on Showtime PPV Saturday night. But Canelo showed off some excellent qualities — defense, speed, power, versatility. Outside of Angulo and Mayweather, Canelo has very little experience at just age 23 against top-10 contender-level opposition. But even if you thought Austin Trout deserved the win against Canelo (I think you're wrong), Saul Alvarez at minimum held his own with someone who was a top junior middleweight at the time. I do not think Alvarez is some kind of exceptional talent or someone likely to crack any credible pound-for-pound top 10 soon, maybe not ever. But he's gotten better than I ever thought he could when I first laid eyes on him. Can he get better still? I don't see why not. He pulled a nifty trick at one point that you don't do if you suck: He parried an Angulo body shot and with the same hand and in the same motion, came up with an uppercut. Pretty sure I used to do that in the Fight Night games.
- Next for Canelo. Golden Boy is at least expressing openness to matching Canelo with Erislandy Lara, his natural next opponent on competitive merits if not commercial ones. Lara, continuing a streak of belligerently demanding fights — because he might as well — confronted Canelo at the post-fight press conference. Lara, though, is lined up to fight Ishe Smith in May, the night before Floyd Mayweather's next one, because Lara's pining for Mayweather, too. I don't figure Lara gets Canelo in July, then, if at all. The 5'9" Canelo might be struggling to make 154, since he bought from Angulo the privilege to come in at 155 this past weekend. And he's had his eye on the winner between middleweight champion Sergio Martinez and Miguel Cotto, a fight with all kinds of commercial appeal — and that might be makeable even though both men fight on HBO these days because neither of them are wedded to Top Rank, which refuses to bring its fighters to Showtime. That means Canelo might have an argument for ducking Lara indefinitely.
- Tony Weeks on the stoppage. Referee Tony Weeks is standing by his decision to halt the fight, which remains the right call, and I'm glad he has the right attitude about it, because he shouldn't be bullied by boos into letting fights like this one go longer next time. He was rightly sympathetic to the complaints of Angulo, whose job it is to keep fighting at all costs, but has the proper perspective on what his job is as the referee: to protect the fighters. How anyone would think this was some kind of favor to Canelo is beyond me. Canelo didn't need any help winning that fight. There was no sign that Angulo was about to win, only evidence that he was going to take another two and a half rounds of punishment. And Weeks has seen, in a bout he officiated, what can happen in fights much like this one.
- Canelo post-fight bombardment, the crowd. Not long ago I kind of laughed at Adrien Broner getting pelted with various objects after his loss to Marcos Maidana as a vivid manifestation of fans' hatred of Broner and his villain schtick. It's not something fans should be doing, though, to anyone. Pelting Canelo for the stoppage (as if it was his fault) and/or beating Angulo? I love a lot of boxing fans, and their passion makes a live fight an exhilarating experience. But some of them are fucking horrible. As for the size of the crowd: Canelo-Angulo, for all the complaints about the PPV-worthiness of the show, still brought in a hefty live audience of more than 14,000. How much that might translate into PPV sales, I don't know, although it's usually a positive indicator.
- Victor Conte on Angulo. The biggest drug cheat in sports history said before the fight that Angulo would have improved foot speed as the result of working with his partner Remi Korchemny (and Angulo had been hanging with Conte, too). I think we saw how that worked out for Angulo. Laughable. Trainer/promoter/nutritionist types of all shades have a history of making promises they can't keep. But I do wonder when people are going to stop buying what this particular snake oil salesman is peddling.
- Canelo-Angulo stoppage vs. undercard fights. Our man Sam Sheppard had this exchange about how the same standard by which Canelo-Angulo was stopped could've applied as well to other fights, including those on the undercard. Jorge Linares and Leo Santa Cruz did indeed land a great many of their power shots as well. I don't personally subscribe to the "Angulo wasn't going to win anyway" justification. The only standard should be fighter safety. Once upon a time the legendarily controversial Meldrick Taylor stoppage in his Julio Cesar Chavez, Sr. fight bothered me. These days, I look at it with kinder eyes. The power shots Canelo was landing were connecting flusher those being landed by Santa Cruz, and the Linares shots were less powerful. When Arakawa was in there with a bigger puncher, against Omar Figueroa, I thought that fight should've been stopped rather than going the full 12, too.
- Next for Leo Santa Cruz. I've taken to cheering on guys who call out fighters with no regard for promotional allegiance. I have become convinced that only when fans stop accepting the promotional Cold War as an incontrovertible fact will the promoters feel the heat they need to feel to end this stupid feud. So when Santa Cruz says he wants to fight junior featherweight champion Guillermo Rigondeaux, I admire him by that reasoning and by another standard, too: Rigo is a tough out, and Santa Cruz wanting that challenge — and saying he wants it because he wants to be considered the best in his division — makes him that much more awesome. I'm good if Rigo fights Carl Frampton next because that's a damn good fight. But Santa Cruz-Rigo is more appealing to me after Santa Cruz showed for once he could deal with movement (asterisk for it being Mijares' movement with old bones).
- Carlos Molina and prison. There was some debate the past week over the gravity of the crime that put junior middleweight Carlos Molina in prison and off the Canelo-Angulo PPV, back when we were getting conflicting versions of events. His promoter, Leon Margules, said the then 18-year-old Molina had sex with his then 15-16 year old girlfriend, leading to a conviction for second degree sexual assault on a child. This is a more defensible kind of high school senior/high school sophomore kind of thing, the kind of criminal offense that happens routinely around America with the 18-year-old becoming a "sex offender" usually only when the girlfriend's family decides they don't like the boyfriend. You can get into a fuzzy debate about the appropriateness of the laws here, and one can make legitimate arguments that there is indeed something disturbing about that kind of sexual encounter, but it's obvious that we're dealing with a lower level sex offender in these cases than a full-fledged rapist or child molester. Unfortunately for everyone involved, Margules appears to have gotten the details wrong. The Las Vegas Review-Journal got ahold of the arrest report, and the girl, it turns out, was just 13. Although the nature of Molina's conviction points toward a situation where Molina didn't intimidate or force, the description of events doesn't sound wholly consensual either. In a sport where light heavyweight champ Adonis Stevenson did some far more evil things in his youth, perhaps one can chalk Molina's behavior up to mistakes of the past — but the arrest report sounds like it settles whether this is the kind of thing we should look at as a technical violation of the law, a rather innocent one as originally described, or the truth: a far uglier incident. Oh, and at minimum, it sounds like he handled his sex offender registration/deportation issues stupidly, so that makes it doubly hard to be sympathetic.
- Mike Reed and Dusty Hernandez-Harrison. I'd hoped to make it to Rosecroft Raceway Friday night to watch junior welterweight prospect Mike Reed in action again, but it didn't work out. Accounts by Gautham Nagesh and David Greisman suggest he did well. His fellow D.C.-area prospect, Dusty Hernandez-Harrison, got dropped Friday night, as detailed by our Matthew Swain. I've said it will be hard to judge the 19-year-old Hernandez-Harrison until he is a full-grown man, but this is the second time the welterweight has been dropped by low-level opposition, and it's a worrisome trend. To his credit, he is tough-minded and he is smart, and fought well after going down, but while you can't discount him entirely as a prospect for things like this, it's also difficult to be too bullish.