Alvarez, Angulo kick off promotion

Canelo Alvarez will face Alfredo Angulo, his first fight since his lopsided loss against Floyd Mayweather. Gene Blevins/Hoganphotos/Golden Boy Promotions

LOS ANGELES -- Canelo Alvarez kicked off the promotion for his impending return to the ring on Tuesday, going face to face with Alfredo Angulo, whom he’ll take on March 8 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.

The matchup will mark the former junior middleweight titleholder’s first fight since a deflating split-decision loss to Floyd Mayweather Jr. in September -- Alvarez’s first defeat as a professional.

"It was a great experience for me, a fight that taught me a lot, and that education is something that will serve me well in future fights," Alvarez said during Tuesday’s promotional event, held at an outdoor L.A. restaurant before a crowd of fans and media. “So I’m training with everything I’ve got to return this March 8.”

It’s an interesting pairing -- two Spanish-speaking, Mexican-born fighters spearheading a pay-per-view event (Angulo’s first as a headliner) in the U.S. But both fighters resonate with American fans, and the hard-core among them surely recognize that an Alvarez-Angulo fight likely will make for far better theater than Canelo’s matchup with Mayweather.

"Why ‘Perro’ Angulo?" Alvarez asked at Tuesday’s event. "Because he’s a strong fighter who always comes forward, withstands punishment, someone who comes to fight.”

Then, in a clear swipe at Mayweather: “Fans want to see a fight, not someone who runs all the time.”

Angulo (22-3, 18 KOs), who won an interim title at 154 pounds, has been through some wars -- especially recently. But although he is just 2-2 in his past four fights, he is by no means a soft touch. Even in defeats to Erislandy Lara (June) and James Kirkland (2011) during that stretch, he nearly finished each opponent more than once.

"It’s a very hard fight against a difficult rival,” Angulo said of the Alvarez fight. “I want to thank all my fans. They are the best."

In the undercard, relentless puncher Leo Santa Cruz (26-0-1, 15 KOs) will defend his junior featherweight title against Cristian Mijares (49-7-2, 24 KOs).

"It's going to be a war, and I’m ready to finish with my hand held high, beating a great champion such as Mijares," Santa Cruz said.

Also on the card, Carlos Molina (22-5-2, 6 KOs) will defend his junior middleweight title against prospect Jermall Charlo (17-0, 13 KOs), and burgeoning action fighter Omar Figueroa (22-0-1, 17 KOs) will take on Canelo’s older brother, Ricardo Alvarez (23-2-3, 14 KOs) in a lightweight bout.