by Paul Magno
Back around the 20th of September, a story was leaked out to the fans that Alfredo “El Perro” Angulo was in deep trouble with the ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency) due to a lack of proper immigration status and a possible history of past infractions, committed as a young man.
According to the report, HBO was made aware of the situation and placed Angulo, an HBO-friendly fighter who has appeared on the network numerous times during his short career, on their “no go” list of fighters the network would not touch.
I sat on this story and waited it out to see what was what. After all, it was Examiner.com’s Michael Marley who broke it and, well, we all know Marley to be a desperate, elderly man looking to grab headlines at all cost. In the mad dash to be heard above the growing crowd of fellow shills and yellow journalists, sometimes things like facts and reality get left on the side of information super highway.
The article, itself, uses Bob Arum as a direct source. The Top Rank head honcho talks about Angulo being finished in the business because of his immigration status while declaring that “Nobody is going to touch this guy.”
Several other undisclosed sources, affirming the story, are mentioned throughout the piece, but given the writer in question, one has to wonder whether these trusted “veteran” sources “familiar with the situation” are not Bob Arum with a goatee, Bob Arum in a raincoat, and Bob Arum hidden behind the New York Post.
Since the story broke, Angulo has made a public statement from his home in California, claiming that he was living and working legally in the US with a P-1 visa from the government. Angulo admitted that the visa had expired some months prior, but that his renewal was being handled and he was not in any danger of being deported as the original article insinuated.
Angulo’s promoter, Gary Shaw, was not as pleasant as his Mexican-born jr. middleweight. Shaw went right at Bob Arum, who he believed to be not only the source of the initial Marley article, but also the person who dropped the dime on Angulo’s potential immigration issues to HBO.
Shaw theorized that Arum wanted Angulo out of the picture in order to protect Miguel Cotto and all the Top Rank-friendly bouts on the horizon for the Puerto Rican three-division champ. According to Shaw, all of this was done to avoid an HBO-endorsed push to sign an Angulo vs. Cotto clash.
On the surface, this all makes sense. Alfredo Angulo is a major obstacle to Arum’s plans at 154. He’s ranked #3 in the world by the WBC, which means that he will soon be the mandatory to the winner of Margarito-Pacquiao. He’s also a fighter that HBO truly enjoyed featuring, with seven network appearances in Angulo’s 20-fight career. There’s little question that HBO would, at some point, explore the possibility of matching two outstanding action fighters, one Puerto Rican, one Mexican, in a “for sure” fight of the year candidate.
So, Arum would surely benefit the most from an Angulo-less boxing world.
It’s also no surprise that Michael Marley, a reliable “sympathetic ear” for all things Top Rank, was the first to break this story and was even given direct quotes from Arum to boost his questionable credibility.
While it appears that the degree of Angulo’s crime was greatly exaggerated and nobody’s knocking down his door to deport him back to Mexicali, somebody did make a legit and serious effort to sabotage Angulo’s career.
Anecdotal evidence and some amateur sleuthing would surely point to Arum as the guilty party.
Use some inside, possibly damaging, information against a chief rival, make it public via attention-starved pawn, and reap the benefits of an easier road to divisional dominance. All the pieces fit. But, of course, nothing can be proven and none of the possible pawns in this game will be eager to point the finger.
The fact is that somebody ratted out Angulo. It’s not likely that HBO put in the time and energy to investigate Angulo’s immigration status and history with the border guard, where he was allegedly captured and deported back to Mexico as a young man. Somebody had to give them a call and let them know this juicy gossip.
Whatever the case, this has to go down as one of the sleaziest moves in recent memory…and, in boxing, that says a lot.
If I were recently-released James Kirkland, I’d grow eyes in the back of my head and make damn sure that I’m on the straight and narrow.