By Rudy Mondragon
I’ve always been a fan of HBO’s 24/7, dating back to the first ever episode in 2007 for the highly anticipated Oscar De La Hoya vs. Floyd Mayweather Jr. bout. The concept of creating a behind-the-scenes look at two fighters leading up to their fight is a great treat for fans. It is also a great way to sell a fight and create a narrative. As history has taught us, narratives are constructed by those with power. All Access is no different. The narrative that is told is one that privileges one man over the other, and the story created in each and every episode reinforces that. There are three things we can take away from the first episode of All Access: Canelo vs. Angulo: (1) Canelo is the privileged one (2) Angulo is the underdog with serious bite (3) A boxer’s team matters.
Canelo As The Privileged Fighter
It is no secret that Saul Alvarez is the rising star for Golden Boy Promotions. Golden Boy Promotions and their bedside partner, ShowTime Sports, see Canelo as an object worth investing in because of the potential profits. With that investment comes serious and careful strategic planning. This planning has consisted of matching Canelo up with elders of the boxing game who are past their prime, and younger fighters who are mismatches for Saul. With the exception of Floyd Mayweather Jr, Canelo has not faced anyone who poses a serious threat to GBP and ShowTime’s master plan. Matching Canelo with Alfredo Angulo fits into their game plan. Angulo is perceived as a safe opponent that Canelo can beat. In beating Angulo, Canelo will be able to get his career back on track and bounce back from his September defeat to Floyd. That’s the plan. All the resources are there to give Canelo the edge against Angulo. Let’s not forget the hostile conditions that Zab Judah was subjected to in his fight against Danny Garcia. Danny had the backing of Golden Boy Promotions and Zab was his stepping stone. Narratives are formed with the creation of a story that supports the plan of those in power.
Angulo Is The Underdog With Serious Bite
Alfredo Angulo, also known as “El Perro”, has faced his share of struggles. Angulo lost his father at an early age and had to start working very young. In 2012, Angulo turned himself in to an ICE Immigration Processing Center to resolve an expired work visa issue. He was told he would be detained for a maximum of three days. Three days turned into 8 months. He was separated from his daughter and denied the ability to make a living for himself.
All of Angulo’s trials and tribulations serve to remind him as to why he fights and what he fights for. Struggle helps people make progress. After 13 months of inactivity, Angulo returned and recored two straight wins. With Virgil Hunter in his corner, Angulo stepped into the ring against a pure-boxer in Erislandy Lara. Although he lost that fight due to swelling in his left eye, El Perro was able to drop Lara twice, something that had never been done before.
Angulo will step into the ring against Canelo as the underdog. Angulo serves the purpose of being used as a tune up fight for the young Canelo. I do believe however, that Angulo presents a legitimate threat to Canelo. Virgil provided Angulo with a game plan to fight Lara, and he followed it and almost finished Lara off. An upset here is not far-fetched. The right game plan, constructed by Virgil, is one piece of the puzzle that will help Angulo beat Canelo. The other piece is Angulo’s bite, which he most definitely has.
A Boxer’s Team Matters
From All Access Episode 1, we see two training camps. One is filled with a group of hungry fighters. The other is a camp in sunny San Diego, with trainers who tell Canelo everything he wants to hear. In the case of these two fighters, Angulo is a part of a boxing family that will provide the necessary support and guidance to score an upset. Angulo can learn from a speedy fighter (Khan), relate and reflect on similar struggles (Berto), and learn about defense and counter attacking (Ward). Most importantly though is Virgil Hunter, the glue that holds it all together. He is a unique trainer who knows how to adapt and treat fighters the way they need to be treated. In looking at the BBQ that Virgil and his stable had in episode 1, there is a strong sense of camaraderie. As Virgil said, there are no egos involved and each fighter brings something to the table. What Virgil has created is a healthy community.
Canelo’s camp appears to be a healthy one too, but there are things that are missing there. Canelo is young and has a lot of learning to do. As featured BMB writer Jose Hernandez often says, Canelo needs a trainer who will tell him what he is doing wrong and challenge him to get better. What Canelo has right now is an entourage, not a training camp. They are enjoying the ride their young fighter is taking them on and they do not want to compromise that. If this continues, Canelo will not get any better and will enter his later years in his career as a one-dimensional fighter who relies on his physique and limited boxing IQ.