Angulo relishes role for bout vs. Alvarez

Alfredo Angulo knows he wasn’t the first choice to face Saul “Canelo” Alvarez on March 8 at the MGM Grand Garden. Nor does he particularly care he was considered an afterthought.

All he knows is he has a great opportunity. He would love to duplicate Floyd Mayweather Jr.’s result from Sept. 14, when Mayweather gave Alvarez a boxing lesson at the MGM Grand Garden in handing the 23-year-old Mexican superstar his first loss and taking his WBC junior middleweight title.

“I see it as a gift,” Angulo (22-3, 18 knockouts) said Tuesday on a conference call to promote the fight, which will be televised on Showtime Pay Per View. “I think this is the right time. It doesn’t bother me that I wasn’t his first choice. My job is to be ready to fight when my promoter tells me to.”

The original plan was to have Alvarez face Miguel Cotto in the first of three scheduled fights for 2014. But Cotto wanted a world title fight, and because Alvarez doesn’t have a belt, Cotto decided to seek a fight in June against WBC middleweight champion Sergio Martinez.

Alvarez (42-1-1, 30 KOs) looked at possibly facing Carlos Molina, the IBF junior middleweight champion who defeated Ishe Smith at the Grand Garden on the same night of the Mayweather-Alvarez bout. But that was a fight that could be made later.

Same for Erislandy Lara, who bounced back from two knockdowns by Angulo when they met June 8 and won by technical knockout when the fight was stopped in the 10th round after Angulo broke the orbital bone in his left eye.

Alvarez said Angulo is the right opponent for him at this time.

“I chose him because he has the best style for me,” Alvarez said. “He comes forward, and he makes for a good fight. Fight fans want to be entertained, and nobody’s going to be running in this fight.”

Alvarez said he is over the Mayweather loss and ready to fight again. He said there was no psychological barrier to overcome in choosing to return to the Grand Garden.

“It was a very hard loss,” Alvarez said. “It hurt my honor. Nobody likes to lose, but I don’t see it as a loss. I see it as a learning experience. And I’ve fought in (the MGM) many times and have won.”

Of course, Angulo is not Mayweather. The 31-year-old from Mexicali, Mexico, relies on power to subdue his opponents and takes a lot of punches. To ask him to change who he is at this stage of his career would be foolhardy.

“Everyone knows how I fight,” Angulo said. “Look at my record. But he’s coming off his first loss, so it’s going to be interesting to see how he reacts.

“I have a very good game plan with my trainer, Virgil Hunter. We’re already working on it, and people are going to be surprised when they see me on March 8.”

Three title fights are on the card. Leo Santa Cruz will defend his WBC super bantamweight belt against Cristian Mijares; Molina will face Jermall Charlo in his first IBF title defense; and interim WBC lightweight champ Omar Figuera will meet Alvarez’s brother, Ricardo Alvarez.

Contact reporter Steve Carp at 702-387-2913 or Follow him on Twitter: @stevecarprj.