The fans weren't satisfied, but "Canelo" Alvarez clearly was.
The 23-year-old Mexican redhead returned from a six-month hiatus with a comprehensively impressive performance Saturday night, stopping a game but outgunned Alfredo Angulo in round 10 of a scheduled 12-round main event atop a Showtime pay-per-view card in Las Vegas.
Alvarez, who was beaten by Floyd Mayweather Jr. in his last fight six months ago, strafed Angulo with combinations to the head and body in every round and ultimately forced the hand of referee Tony Weeks to end matters 47 seconds into the 10th round at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
The stoppage came after a single left-hand uppercut snapped Angulo's head back and sent him wobbling backward on unsteady legs. Weeks intervened and waved the fight off before Alvarez could approach to continue with a follow-up flurry. Angulo immediately indicated his displeasure with the decision and Alvarez stood in center ring with a shoulder shrug before heading to his corner to celebrate.
CBSSports.com had Alvarez ahead, 88-83, or seven rounds to two, at the time of the stoppage.
"He could have had a press conference to say he was going to throw that uppercut," said Dave Bontempo, who handled color commentary on an international broadcast of the fight, "and he still would have gotten it in."
Boos rained down from the crowd in the immediate aftermath, but Alvarez seemed unconcerned at the prospect of Weeks' decision adversely impacting reviews of his performance.
"The ref stopped the fight. That's the law of the ring," he said. "I could have fought 10 more rounds. I fought his way and I was fighting in (Angulo's) territory. I was here to fight."
Unknown to the fans, Angulo's own corner had been pondering cutting the fight short moments earlier. His trainer, Virgil Hunter, said before the 10th that "I'm not going to let this happen to you, son."
Alvarez dominated the action from the outset, scoring well with both hands and working especially well with left hooks to the body in the early rounds. He carried the fight to Angulo through the first five rounds, then shifted into boxer mode for the subsequent two rounds, content to fight off his back foot and counter the slower, wider punching Angulo as he approached.
Alvarez picked up the offense again to start the eight and scored with crisp, hard shots as he continued to bust up Angulo's face, which was swollen and cut around both eyes. A left hook, uppercut combination snapped Angulo's head back in the last minute of the ninth and another left hook to the head scored cleanly in the final 30 seconds, perhaps prompting Hunter's sentiment between rounds.
"I definitely rebounded from the Floyd Mayweather fight with a strong performance," Alvarez said. "I'm very happy. I did my job. I came here to fight and I did my job."
The loss was the 31-year-old Angulo's second in a row and third in his last five fights, all by stoppage. Overall, he fell to 22-4 in a pro career that began in the same year as Alvarez's, 2005.
Alvarez, whose future could include a middleweight title shot against the winner of June's match between Sergio Martinez and Miguel Cotto, was unclear about his immediate plans. Also in attendance was fellow 154-pounder Erislandy Lara, who also defeated Angulo by 10th-round stoppage in December and has indicated an interest in meeting his fellow Golden Boy Promotions client.
"We'll see what's best for me," Alvarez said.