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Angulo ready for title shot

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Photo: Emily Harney

By Francisco Salazar

There is a saying that a boxer who can bounce back from defeat comes back a stronger fighter. In the manner that he dismantled Gabriel Rosado in his last bout, it seems that junior middleweight Alfredo Angulo can move mountains. However, he will have to clear another obstacle that can easily derail his path towards a world title. Angulo will face Harry Joe Yorgey at the XL Center in Hartford, CT on Saturday night. The bout, which will precede the Chad Dawson-Glen Johnson world title rematch bout, will be for the WBO world interim title. Both fights headline a Gary Shaw Productions card and will be televised on HBO.

Angulo was on a quick path towards a possible world title bout. He was unbeaten in his first 15 bouts with knockout victories over Ricardo Cortes, Richard Gutierrez, and Andrey Tsurkan to name a few. His popularity soared as his aggressive style and punching power made fans across the country.

However, a bout against Kermit Cintron in May ended his winning streak and momentarily his momentum towards a big money or title fight. It was a close decision loss for Angulo in a bout between two hard-hitting fighters.

Angulo admitted that he was under the weather leading up to the fight, but accepted his defeat against Cintron.

Over two months later, Angulo faced Rosado, who had pulled off minor upsets against James Moore and Kassim Ouma and was hoping to catch Angulo on another off night. Angulo destroyed Rosado, dropping him twice in the second round to earn the stoppage victory.

Now, Angulo has his eyes set on Yorgey, who is unbeaten and is coming off a ninth round knockout of Ronald Hearns in March.

Angulo understands that he will have his hands full with Yorgey, but is confident that his best will lead him to victory.

“Yorgey is a great fighter and he is undefeated,” said Angulo, who immediately went back into the gym to train after the Rosado fight. “He thinks he will remain undefeated. I know it will be a good fight.”

“We will wait and see what he brings. He likes to throw and counter on the inside. I think he will not want to do that with me for 12 rounds. He might end up fighting defensively. My goal is too pressure him and not fight his type of fight.”

Although the loss to Cintron was a bump in the road thus far, Angulo acknowledges that he has moved on and is not dwelling on the defeat.

However, if the opportunity presented itself, he would be more than happy to have a rematch with the popular Puerto Rican fighter.

“The fight with Cintron served as experience for me,” said Angulo, who was born in the border town of Mexicali and now resides in the Los Angeles suburb of Downey. “After the Yorgey fight, we will see if that is an option or against another fighter.”

Since signing with Gary Shaw Productions, Angulo has seen his popularity grow over the last two years. With fights on Showtime and HBO, Angulo has been exposed to a wider audience on top of fighting in front of thousands in arenas across the country.

Although it is flattering to meet numerous fans at shows that he attends in Southern California and abroad, it is surprisingly overwhelming for him.

“In reality, I get shy and nervous meeting so many people,” said Angulo, who was a member of the Mexican Olympic team that participated in Athens in 2004. “I am happy to greet them. I am proud and honored that they want to meet me.”

Fighting for a paycheck is a far cry from the lifestyle that Angulo had growing up on the mean streets of Mexicali. Angulo learned his street smarts on the gritty streets, but also did menial jobs to support him, his mother, and his family. From delivering pizzas to working in carnicerias (meat markets) in his younger years, Angulo sure has the mental toughness to counter challenges in and out of the ring.

Knowing that he made the right choice to be a professional prizefighter is something he is thankful for doing.

“Who knows what I would be doing if I was not boxing. I probably would be in jail or on the streets. However, maybe I would be playing baseball. I enjoyed playing it when I was a boy, but I am happy to fight in the ring.”

“At least you won’t get in trouble with the law being in the ring,” joked Angulo.

With his popularity and that of other fighters, it is easy to think of dream fights between certain fighters. With his style and the style of other fighters coupled with their popularity, there are attractive matchups in the future for Angulo.

There is no short term change for Angulo, as he will stay at fighting 154 pounds next year. But if there is an attractive offer on the table, Angulo will no doubt go for it.

“Fighting at 154 pounds we feel is the best for me. However, if there is something attractive at 160 pounds, we will be more than happy to move up. However, my first thoughts are on Yorgey on Saturday. If everything goes well, then we will see what is next for us.”

So far, Angulo has battled through the adversities in his life and handled them fairly well. One could say that his younger years have prepared him for the battles he would eventually face.

Angulo will fight to the best of his ability on Saturday night. A victory would claim him an interim title belt, something that might have been the furthest on his mind years ago.

Angulo has come back as a stronger fighter and he hopes to prove that over a quality fighter like Yorgey. “El Perro” is back and he looks to keep getting stronger. To Angulo and his fans worldwide, is there anything less than that?

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