On Saturday, June 8th, live from the Home Depot Center in Carson, California, Alfredo “El Perro” Angulo will step in the ring for a scheduled twelve rounds for the first time since 2011, when he meets fellow junior middleweight contender, Erislandy Lara, inside of the squared circle. Though going from fighting proposed ten-round fights to twelve may not seem like a big deal, given Angulo’s backstory leading up to this fight, it really is a big deal – both for Angulo and Lara – but for different reasons.
That fight in 2011 for Angulo, was a devastating 6th-round TKO loss at the hands of James Kirkland, which came at a tumultuous time in El Perro’s career. A time in which he dealt with trials and tribulations ranging from breaking away from his old team and promoter, to dealing with his nephew being kidnapped in the weeks before the Kirkland fight, to immigration issues which eventually led to a seven-month plus detainment. Since his release from the ICE detention center in El Centro, California on August 14th, 2012, Angulo has been on the comeback trail.
For Angulo(22-2, 18 KO’s), 30, the first order of business was to find a new trainer to guide him towards world title contention – after getting a few fights under his belt. The man chosen for the task was super middleweight kingpin Andre Ward’s trainer, Virgil Hunter. Although Hunter and Angulo didn’t have much time to work together as Angulo had a date against Raul Casarez on November 10th of last year, the relationship was formed, nonetheless. Angulo knocked Casarez out in the first round after a brutal left hook which put Casarez down, and was visibly hurt enough for referee Jose Cobian to waive the fight off. An emotional Angulo was triumphant in his return, but the rounds he and his team were hoping to get in to shake off the dreaded “ring rust” were to no avail that night.
Fast forward a bit over a month after that fight, and Angulo was to face rugged Tijuana fighter, Jorge Silva. The then 20-year-old Silva came out and stood his ground with Angulo as they each had their moments exchanging fire. Down the stretch, Angulo appeared to pull the victory off, and the judges agreed – awarding him a 97-93 unanimous decision win over 10 rounds. However, Silva did get in some hard, flush shots on Angulo, and either Angulo’s stamina or said ring rust appeared to tire and gas him in the later rounds of the fight. That is the biggest factor going into Saturday night for Angulo. And also, if Hunter has been able to, well, teach an old(er) dog new tricks..
In Erislandy Lara(17-1-2, 11 KO’s), we also have a 30-year-old fighter. But Lara’s pedigree from the amateurs and in style is cut from a completely different cloth than Angulo, and has far less mileage on the odometer. The Cuban defector and amateur standout has relied on his boxing ability and speed to work his way up to this point. No stranger to controversy, either, Lara has a disputed majority draw against Carlos Molina(a fight many observers felt Molina won), and a very controversial loss to Paul Williams(a fight most observers believed Lara clearly won). And in his last fight against Vanes Martirosyan, Lara was forced to settle for a technical draw after an accidental clash of heads in the 9th round halted the action and the scorecards to be read.
On paper, this fight is a tough outing for Angulo, stylistically, as he’s dealing with a slick fighter who utilizes movement, which will work against Angulo’s flat-footed style. However, Angulo’s pressure and attacking style could give Lara problems, as Martirosyan showed – that pressure early on can be a successful tool against Lara. Angulo will have to force the action, and throw punches in combinations, while trying to avoid leaving himself open as he often does. It would also be wise to try to keep a fighter who moves well – pinned against the ropes, and to work in Angulo’s favor. Angulo has arguably fought the slightly better opposition, and it’d be best to use that experience against Lara. El Perro needs to learn and not make the same mistakes, again – like the ones he made when he fought Kermit Cintron, the man that handed him his first loss, easily out-boxing Angulo. For Alfredo, he is back in the same spot he worked so hard to get to his whole career, once before – on the cusp of bigger fights and bigger paydays against the top names in his division. Thus making getting that second crack at higher stakes, pending a win, all the more significant once that first bell rings on Saturday night.
For Erislandy, he will need to be the much more polished fighter that he is, compared to Angulo, and counter against Angulo’s pressure. It’s Lara’s fight to win, as the style is in his favor. It can be argued that Lara is in against one of the most dangerous punchers he’s faced in his career, therefore, Lara will have to try to avoid and if not, at least, try to nullify Angulo’s power – using his footwork and lateral movement.
My final opinions and thoughts on this fight are that both of these guys have came a long way to get here, and this fight would only be the beginning of higher profile fights and opportunities in a stacked 154-lb. division. Each fighter has taken a different path to get here, and where Angulo has heart, Lara has skill, and as we know in boxing, neither is the telling determining factor of who will win a fight. Style-wise, it can turn out to be a complete snoozer, or an entertaining scrap between two men with the same ambitions. Sometimes one intangible cancels the other out, and that’s the underlying variable in this anomalous sport.
Alas, I believe it’s either fighter’s fight to win, a 50/50 split down the middle for various reasons. But this writer opines that Alfredo Angulo will gather all the frustration, anger and pain he’s mustered for the past couple of years and find a way to beat the crafty Lara either by late-round stoppage or close decision, which will open up the doors for loftier prizefights.
Alfredo Angulo Vs. Erislary Lara airs as the opening bout and co-feature to Showtime Sports’ headline fight between Marcos Maidana Vs. Josesito Lopez live from the Home Depot Center, Saturday, June 8th at 10PM EST/7 PM PST.