(Photo credit: Esther Lin/Showtime) LAS VEGAS (March 8, 2014) – Mexican superstar Canelo Alvarez scored a controversial 10th round technical knockout victory over Alfredo “El Perro” Angulo in front of 14,610 fans at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in the main event of Saturday’s “TOE TO TOE: CANELO vs. ANGULO” on SHOWTIME PPV.
Canelo (43-1-1, 31 KOs) landed a vicious left uppercut that rocked “El Perro’s” head back at 0:47 of the 10th round. Sensing Angulo was taking too much punishment, referee Tony Weeks stepped in and halted the exciting battle.
Looking to bounce back from the first loss of his career when he faced pound-for-pound champ Floyd Mayweather last September, Canelo displayed vicious accuracy and a devastating left hook as he controlled the bout from the opening bell. Angulo gained some momentum in the second half of the fight, including a scintillating eighth round, which Angulo won on all three judges’ scorecards. The two Mexican warriors exchanged blows and taunted each other for more punishment in a potential 2014 Round of the Year candidate.
Despite the sensational action in the eighth, it was clear Canelo was in control throughout. Angulo’s trainer, Virgil Hunter, threatened to stop the fight between the ninth and 10th rounds if he didn’t see more action from his fighter.
“The referee is the marshal,” Canelo said. “He has the order. He is the chief and he stopped the fight because he knew what was going on. I was doing my job. This is the law of the ring. I could have fought another 10 rounds, but the referee stopped the fight.”
Angulo was visibly frustrated and passionately protested the stoppage, pleading his case after losing the biggest fight his career.
“I’m upset because they should have let the fight go on,” Angulo said. “I’m frustrated. They should have let it go to the end. I’m fine. The referee was wrong this time.”
Hunter agreed: “Of course I’m very upset. I told the doctor if Canelo got two or three consecutive punches on him I would stop the fight. He only landed one punch and they stopped the fight. Everybody knows Alfredo was coming on strong.”
In a post-fight interview with SHOWTIME reporter Jim Gray, Nevada State Athletic Commission Chairman Francisco Aguilar defended Weeks’ decision.
“After speaking with Tony and the doctor, I think it’s understandable why the decision was made,” Aguilar said. “Tony made his decision and he made his decision with the consultation of a doctor.
“Our job as a commission is to ensure the health and safety of our fighters. We don’t want the referee to determine the outcome of the fight but he made the decision to protect the health of the fighter.”
Regardless of the nature of his victory, Canelo proved that he is back and showed that he is still one of boxing’s brightest stars.
“Tonight I was the best fighter,” Canelo said. “I definitely rebounded from the Mayweather fight with a strong performance today. I’m very happy. I came in here and did my job.”
Saturday’s main event will replay on SHOWTIME on Saturday, March 15 before The SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING presentation of Danny Garcia vs. Mauricio Herrera.
WBC Super Bantamweight Champion Leo Santa Cruz scored a near-shutout of Cristian Mijares in a dominating 12-round unanimous decision (119-109, 120-108 twice) in Saturday’s co-feature.
The two-division champion Santa Cruz put on a brilliant performance in his second successful 122-pound title defense, suffocating his opponent with more than 1,000 punches in what seemed like target practice against the former world champ. Santa Cruz (27-0-1, 15 KOs) showcased a tremendously effective uppercut, pressing forward throughout the fight despite a deep gash above his right eye that was caused by an accidental clash of heads.
“This is my dream come true,” Santa Cruz said. “Mijares is a great boxer, but I came here to do what I had to do to beat him. Of course he’s very experienced and we had to be 100 percent. We practiced with lefties so we could be ready for everything.
“The blood was going to my eyes sometimes but it didn’t bother me. If Carl Frampton is next, I want him next. I’ll fight whoever they put in front of me.”
Mijares (49-8-2, 24 KOs) admitted he was frustrated by Santa Cruz’s consistent pressure.
“I did my job. It was difficult for me but I did everything I could,” Mijares said. “It was difficult because of Leo’s reach. He threw a lot of punches but he never hurt me.”
Jorge Linares (36-3, 23 KOs) and Nihito Arakawa (24-4-1, 16 KOs) put on a show in the second bout of the PPV, exchanging almost 1,200 punches in 10 brutal rounds as Linares won a hard-fought unanimous decision victory scored 98-92 and 100-90 twice.
Both fighters overcame cuts, but Linares’ combinations were the difference. He repeatedly landed punishing shots with ease against his Japanese opponent to record his fifth straight victory.
“I knew that Arakawa could take a punch going into the fight,” Linares said. “I hurt my right hand in the fourth round and that’s why I relied so heavily on my left. I want to fight for the title as soon as [WBC Lightweight World Champion] Omar Figueroa Jr. is ready.”
Arakawa, who has quickly made a name for himself to boxing fans in the U.S. with his aggressive and relentless approach to fighting, knew he didn’t do enough to earn the victory in just his second fight stateside.
“I’m okay, but I’m disappointed I didn’t win,” Arakawa said. “I knew I wasn’t winning, but I tried to fight as best I could. I couldn’t make it happen. Linares is very good and very strong.”
In a spectacular opening bout of the pay-per-view telecast, late replacement Sergio “Yeyo” Thompson recorded an impressive unanimous decision victory over Ricardo “Dinamita” Alvarez (97-91, 95-93 twice) after taking the bout on less than one week’s notice.
The all-action match featured little defense as the Mexican brawlers exchanged power shots for 10 rounds.
“In the first round I knew I hurt him and I knew I had sufficient power at 135 pounds,” Thompson said. “I’m very excited about this because I was training for another fight and I took this fight on one week’s notice and I was able to counter him effectively.”
Thompson (29-3, 26 KOs) knocked down Alvarez (23-3-3, 13 KOs) for the first time in his career in the third round and scored another knockdown in the eighth round with a thundering overhand right.
“I’m going to talk to my team to see if I should stay at 135 pounds,” Alvarez said. “I threw punches like I normally do, but the power wasn’t there.”