When Will “El Perro” Re-Enter the Ring?
“I wasn’t at 100 percent,” Alfredo “Perro” Angulo told me during a quick catch-up chat I had with the junior middleweight, who was recently defeated in his November 5 bout versus James “Mandingo Warrior” Kirkland.
“It was difficult,” the popular slugger from Mexicali, also admitted during our phone call last Friday. “Kirkland, he’s a good fighter, yes…But I just wasn’t myself.”
The Angulo–Kirkland clash was one everyone was buzzing about. With James’ prison drama and Alfredo’s immigration and promoter issues, the collision taking place in Cancun was one drama-fueled fight no one wanted to miss. Everybody expected an all-out war. And the first round showed promise of that; it’s in the running for “Round of the Year.”
Just 30 seconds into the opening frame, “Perro” put down his foe with a hard right followed by a vicious offensive assault with Kirkland trapped against the ropes and in the corner. But as the Mexican knockout artist proceeded to try and finish the job, Kirkland flipped the script. Surviving the onslaught with the HBO announcers proclaiming, “Angulo may have punched himself out!”, Ann Wolfe’s star pupil came back with a surprise of his own.
Shocking “El Perro” and the boxing world watching, James Kirkland fought back, coming back stronger in the last 30 seconds and knocking down Angulo right before the bell ended the first three minutes of their bout.
Though he bravely battled back Angulo (20-2, 17 KOs) was never the same as their dog fight continued.
Kirkland continued his punishing assault as Alfredo’s face reddened with every blow. Finally, referee Johnny Callas stepped in stopping the bout in the sixth stanza, giving the Austin, Texas fighter the shocking upset.
Can Alfredo Angulo rebound from this? And after this stunning loss, everyone asked Team Angulo: “What happened?”
There are many questions to be answered.
I met with one of Angulo’s advisors and team members, attorney and former fighter, Lucy Haro, to touch base with Team Perro. The petite Peruvian lawyer is also a fierce advocate in fighting for the rights of the boxers–their health and well-being, their finances and their future.
Lucy wants to set the record straight in reminding people there’s always two sides to every story.
Before the Kirkland match, Alfredo made headlines and received critical flak for apparently “turning down $750,000″ to fight Sergio Martinez. But Lucy says there’s more to that story. She talks of unscrupulous dealings by greedy promoters and managers and passionately vows to change the way fighters are treated. Haro has known Angulo for over five years and she says that many have tried to “kick him when he’s down.” While Shaw has publicly stated his opinions in his battle with his former star, Lucy thinks the situation with his trainer, Clemente Medina, hurt “Perro” more than Gary’s words. “It’s a loyalty issue with Alfredo,” she explains. “Clemente was with him for over six years. Everybody thinks he left Clemente but it wasn’t that way at all.”
Who knows if the trainer and his ex-charge will ever reunite again one day? In boxing, anything can happen. But first things first; Angulo’s return to the U.S. is the top priority.
Having trained alongside many champs and contenders herself, Lucy is now working closely with Alfredo as his immigration issues are solved and the fighter awaits his return to U.S. soil.
That is the million-dollar question. When will “El Perro” return to the States?
Lucy says they’re getting closer. Haro is hoping Angulo will come back as soon as January or February.
After a contentious break with Gary Shaw Productions, Alfredo is now fighting under the Golden Boy Promotions banner, has a new manager and worked with a new trainer in the famed Nacho Beristain. Training in Mexico City, “Perro” was the favorite going into the fight in his home country of Mexico. The majority of fans in unofficial polls assumed Angulo would KO Kirkland in their fight for the WBC Continental Americas title.
So what does the camp think is the reason for Alfredo’s last performance?
There were many factors that added up to the Kirkland loss. For this camp, the team told me that strength and conditioning coach Darryl Hudson wasn’t available to join them in Mexico, Nacho was also training Juan Manuel Marquez at the same time, his usual sparring partners were in the U.S., and they say Angulo came in at 163 at fight time to Kirkland’s 173. The breaks with his promoter, manager and longtime trainer, Clemente Medina, didn’t help the cause. Not making any excuses, but they also think his conditioning could’ve even been affected by the pollution in Mexico City.
As they say, hindsight is 20/20. Haro also says candidly that maybe everyone underestimated James Kirkland.
She also told me that Angulo showed great sportsmanship and much respect for the victor. After the fight ended and they were in the dressing room, Alfredo didn’t want to see anyone. He made one exception when Kirkland knocked on the door after their six-round feud was over.
Lucy says she has watched the fight several times. She is a practitioner of Kung Fu and with her “Sifu” William Cheung, Haro tells me how they watched the fight replay while talking to Alfredo on the phone. Grandmaster Cheung has even given “El Perro” some lessons in Wing Chun.
Now, almost three weeks after the defeat (and his second consecutive fight in Mexico), Team Angulo is already bouncing back.
And when does the camp think he will step back into the ring? And who does he want to face?
“He wants to get back in as soon as possible,” she says. “He’s already been going out; he’s not hiding from anyone. As far as future opponents, Vanes Martirosyan could still be a good fight.”
After the normal precautionary visit to the hospital, the team says he’s fine and his face shows no marks of the Kirkland war.
“Have you been back to the gym yet?” I ask Alfredo.
“I’m going back to train in about a week,” he replied. Angulo will be training closer to his Mexicali home.
“Would you want a rematch against Kirkland?” I next inquire.
“Yes. I would fight him again,” he confirms. Alfredo also tells me he’s looking forward to coming back to California, where his daughter Rebeca resides. He dotes on the five-year-old and says that’s the hardest part of him being away in Mexico.
“But I do get to see her. She came to visit me last week,” her proud father tells me. “And she’s getting so tall! I am looking forward to coming back and being with her–and seeing all my friends and fans too.”
Hoping to reconnect with his little girl, Angulo patiently awaits the immigration issues.
And when he does re-enter the U.S., there will be more questions to answer. He will probably have a new trainer since the Hall of Fame Beristain runs his gym out in Mexico and he will have to quiet the critics who have counted him out after this last defeat.
Ironically, the man to beat him, James Kirkland also went through this same situation after his own shocking loss to the unheralded, so-called “light punching” Japanese opponent, Nobuhiro Ishida in April of this year. Not only did Kirkland rebound from this TKO, but he scored his own KO victory against the favorite, “El Perro.”
In the boxing world, public opinion can change with just one fight, just one punch. Now James and his trainer Wolfe are enjoying their reign as talk of the duo being “Comeback of the Year” and “Trainer of the Year” candidates continues.
After this defeat, Angulo says he will bounce back from the canvas. His only other blemish was a loss to Kermit Cintron back in 2009.
Speaking with Golden Boy’s PR man, Bill Caplan this past weekend, the PR Hall of Famer says Angulo will be back; you can’t count out anyone after a loss.
“Sugar Ray Robinson had 19 losses in his career,” Caplan points out. We then chatted about other more current losses and upsets in the sport. “Amir Khan lost to Breidis Prescott, who just lost to Mike Alvarado,” Bill added.
The point is, Team Angulo says “El Perro” will be just fine.
He will come back and hopefully fight again in the U.S.–where the popular pugilist has a huge fan base–and get back in the win column as soon as possible.
One loss doesn’t have to define a fighter’s career.
Just ask James Kirkland.
Photos by Ray Flores