It's Showtime: Canelo Alvarez faces tough return test

No one would claim Saul “Canelo” Alvarez is taking the soft road back to stardom.

In fact, when it comes to opponents for a return to the Las Vegas ring after a six-month hiatus, his selection of fellow Mexican and veteran slugger Alfredo Angulo – who’s scored 18 of his 22 professional wins before the final bell – ranks far closer to challenging than charitable.

“There isn't much more to say, I'm ready to go,” Alvarez said. “Boxing is about style and I think with his style and my style it will be a war. We are going to give you a war. I always say talk is cheap so we'll see what happens on Saturday night.”

The fight will be broadcast by Showtime atop a four-fight pay-per-view card beginning at 9 p.m. ET.

Retail price for standard definition is $49.95, while a high-definition signal is $59.95.

The confidence is similar to that which the 23-year-old displayed before his last fight, a majority decision loss to Floyd Mayweather Jr. last September that cost him his World Boxing Council super welterweight (154-pound) championship, but solidified him as a reliable ticket-selling commodity.

It drew 2.2 million pay-per-view buys and generated $150 million in gross revenue, after a 10-city press tour in which he consistently outdid Mayweather in terms of both fan numbers and volume.

And while the targets for this show at the MGM Grand aren’t nearly as lofty – Alvarez is guaranteed $1.25 million, down from the $5 million he pocketed in September, according to the Nevada State Athletic Commission – it does give Alvarez a chance to position himself for bigger things down the road.

Angulo, incidentally, will pocket $750,000, according to NSAC.

“It is a big responsibility to headline on pay-per-view. It shows the end result of everything I've done in the gym,” Alvarez said. “I'm going to give it my best. I'm going to get the victory. Angulo is a very dangerous opponent. He doesn't mind getting hit as long as he can hit back. It's a fight that can change in one punch on either side.”

A winner in 42 of 44 fights – with the loss to Mayweather and a draw against Jorge Juarez – since turning professional as a 15-year-old in 2005, Alvarez won the WBC’s vacant championship in 2011 with a unanimous decision over Matthew Hatton. He successfully defended it six times through the spring of 2013, when he defeated previously unbeaten Austin Trout before more than 39,000 fans in San Antonio.

The more stylish Trout fared well in the early rounds against Alvarez, but wore down in the later rounds thanks to his opponent’s perpetual aggression. The script was similar to a previous defense against veteran three-division champion Shane Mosley, who was outpointed over 12 rounds in May 2012.

One fight earlier, Alvarez stopped former welterweight titleholder Kermit Cintron in five rounds in Mexico City. Cintron is the only man who’s fought both Alvarez and Angulo as a pro.

He handed Angulo his first loss in May 2009, winning a unanimous decision in Hollywood, Fla. in which all three judges awarded him eight of 12 rounds.

“I believe Alvarez beats Angulo easy,” Cintron said. “I put out the blueprint on how to beat Angulo. (Erislandy) Lara boxed the way I did, but he made Angulo quit. Alvarez is good against forward fighters like Angulo, so Alvarez will look extremely great.”

Angulo won five straight after the loss to Cintron, but has since been stopped in two of his last four fights and spent seven months in an immigration detention center for living in the U.S. with an expired work visa.

He knocked James Kirkland down in the first round of their November 2011 match in Cancun, Mexico before being halted in the sixth round, then dropped Erislandy Lara twice last June in Carson, Calif. before being forced to retire in the 10th round with a grotesquely swollen left eye.

“It's going to be a savage affair. I sense a storm coming,” said Virgil Hunter, Angulo’s trainer. “There's something about this fight that has me thinking, anticipating that it is going to exceed everything we've been expecting and be something we've never seen before.”

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