I don't think most fighters like getting hit. Some say they love it (Brandon Rios), but I believe most don't particularly enjoy it. However, to be a truly elite fighter, and most of all a legitimate star, you have to be willing to get hit if that's what it takes to win a fight. On March 8 we will find out if Canelo Alvarez is that kind of fighter.
Prior fights lead me to believe this may not be the case. Against Austin Trout, a fighter not known for having a particularly strong punch, Canelo fought a rather defensive minded fight, staying away from Trout, throwing few punches and never really opening up. He had a significant power advantage, and even after dropping Trout with one big right straight, never commited to go after the knock out. Against Floyd Mayweather, even though he had a significant power advantage once again, and even though he was clearly losing round after round, he never really commited to go after Floyd, settling to fighting on the outside where he had no chance of catching Mayweather. I believe this was based on him not wanting to get caught by Floyd with a big counterpunch. But after the eighth or ninth round what was the difference, he was still going to lose.
These two instances, which were against Canelo's best opposition, leads me to question if he'll be able to really go "Toe to Toe" with Alfredo "El Perro" Angulo. Angulo is clearly the biggest puncher Canelo has faced (Kermit Cintron and Shane Mosely don't count, they were way past their prime when he fought them), and he's also never faced someone that applies the kind of relentless pressure that "El Perro" usually bring into the ring.
This puts Canelo and his team in a bit of a dilemma. After his dreadful performance against Mayweather, Canelo needs to win and to be impressive. If he decides to try and box Angulo on the outside he could be effective, but not particularly exciting. If he stands in the middle of the ring and trades shots he would consistenly be in harms way. If Canelo wasn't willing to engage Trout or Mayweather, is he really going to stand in the middle of the ring and trade with Angulo? My guess is he's going to have to, regardless of what his fight plan is, because I don't think he can stay away from Angulo.
In his fight against Erislandy Lara, Angulo was able to cut off the ring with good consistency, getting Lara on the ropes and in the corner several times to launch his body attack, and both times he dropped Lara it was when he was trying to get out of the ropes and away from Angulo. If "El Perro" could catch up to Lara, who is a faster, more athletic and overall better defensive fighter than Canelo, I don't think he'll be able to avoid Angulo. So now the question is: can he take Angulo's power? My guess is he can't, at least not in a 12 round fight.
Canelo has always had conditioning problems. He doesn't end fights strong and usually just cruises in the so-called championship rounds. This has never been an issue because most of the times he's been well ahead when his fights have gone the distance, or well behind as in the Mayweather fight. The Trout fight was the one exception. In the final two or three rounds he seemed to be ahead, specially after the knockdown, but he didn't have a really big lead, and yet he threw very few punches in the final rounds. Against Angulo, if they really go "Toe to Toe", that means that it will have been a high action fight where both will have landed significant power shots consistently. In this case, I don't think Canelo will have much left for the final rounds.
Of course this could all be academic. Canelo could catch Angulo with a big counter punch early and end it quickly, or Angulo could also land a big left hook or right straight and end it quickly. But if the fight goes long, at least six or seven rounds, this fight will let us find out if Canelo really has the physical strength and mental toughness to continue his rise into the upper ranks of the boxing elite.
I doubt it.