Growing up in places like East L.A. or South-Central you figure out things real quick. One thing that I realized on the streets as a youngster was that looks can be deceiving and the toughest looking guys aren’t necessarily as rugged as the baby-faced guys.
But there are exceptions.
The first time I took a gander at Alfredo “El Perro” Angulo was back in 2005 in the South El Monte Boxing Club. A bunch of guys were milling around the gym when I noticed the Mexicali boxer put on the gloves and begin hitting the heavy bag.
He looked like a fighter. Not a boxer, but a fighter.
That day Antonio Margarito was sparring with several guys including Ikeke Kingsley and Sergio Mora. After about six rounds Angulo entered the ring and in my mind the Tijuana Tornado was going to need to pull back on those hammers he was firing at the other guys.
It didn’t happen.
Angulo and Margarito traded bombs like two sadists hoping the other would break from the punishment each was dealing. The Tijuana fighter had the experience but the Mexicali mauler seemed to relish the action inside the ring. After about two rounds I turned to one of the boxing managers and asked the name of the rough-looking guy slugging it out.
“Don’t know,” said one guy.
So I turned to one of the trainers in the gym Ben Lira and he said, “I think his last name is Angulo.”
Angulo (13-0, 10 KOs) meets Russia’s Andrey Tsurkan (26-3, 17 KOs) at the Pechanga Resort and Casino on Saturday. The junior middleweight clash will be televised on HBO.
I had heard of Angulo before seeing him at South El Monte because he was a member of the 2004 Mexican Olympic boxing team. He looked and fought like a killer.
The first time I personally saw Angulo fight in the ring was at Chumash Casino when he was matched against a guy named Israel Garcia. After four rounds it was obvious that Angulo carried some heavy punches inside his glove and could take a punch too. What I remember is watching him talk to his friends in a subdued and humble manner and the respect he gave fans after his win; he seemed to be a very classy guy.
The next time he fought at the Chumash was against Puerto Rico’s undefeated Emmanuel Gonzalez. After two rounds Gonzalez was out of there. Last week Gonzalez lasted all eight rounds against Danny Jacobs at the Home Depot.
Angulo doesn’t spar as much with Margarito as before. But if you ask him to get in the ring with Godzilla he wouldn’t hesitate.
“I’m not afraid of fighting anyone,” said Angulo. “If they put a contract in front of me then I’ll fight.”
Every day he arrives at the Maywood Boxing Gym to work out with his trainer Clemente Medina. They go through their routines with little banter, just the regular boxing talk. But he doesn’t miss a day.
Medina has a lot of confidence in Angulo, but he knows that Tsurkan is a Russian version of his fighter and that’s not good.
“We know he’s a tough fighter who likes to move forward,” said Clemente Medina, who trains Angulo. “He looks very strong on the video.”
Angulo has his own opinion on Tsurkan and expects a rough encounter from the Russian who now lives in New York.
“He’s good,” Angulo (13-0, 10 KOs) says. “But I like it when I fight good guys. I might not do so well against mediocre guys and people would say I’m not that good. I’d rather fight the good guys.”
That’s what happens when you spar with champions like Margarito and Mora.
“You can find out where you stand with the good fighters,” Angulo says. “If I fought a bad fighter and won easy I wouldn’t know what I need to learn.”
Tsurkan is a roughneck much like Angulo so don’t expect a couple of dancers. Both these guys are no shrinking violets when it comes to fighting.
The Russian doesn’t have a lot of speed, is rather small in size for a 154-pounder, but keeps racking up knockouts against people that stand in front of him. The pig punching Russian has knocked out Jesse Feliciano, Hector Camacho Jr. and David Lopez. That’s a pretty good group of guys. It’s the movers and groovers that give him problems.
Angulo is no mover. If anything, he’s a mirror image of Tsurkan and does not plan to go anyway but forward.
After spending two hours sparring, hitting the mitts, bashing the heavy bag and working on neck exercises, Angulo sat down as he attempted to cool off in the extremely humid conditions at the Maywood Boxing Gym.
In his last ring appearance he survived big-punching Ricardo Gutierrez, who staggered him. Angulo recovered quickly and tore into the Colombian with dozens of punches and forced the referee to stop the fight in the fifth round. That win grabbed him the WBO Inter-continental junior middleweight title.
Knockouts are on every boxing fan's mind but not Angulo’s.
“You never know if it’s going to go 12 rounds or one round,” he said. “We train to fight 12.”
Sergio Mora, the former junior middleweight champion, sparred with Angulo earlier in the year, and remembers the Mexicali fighter’s aggressive attitude.
“He’s an animal in the ring,” said Mora.
Yuri, Alex and Sergio
Yuri Gamboa (11-0, 9 KOs), the Cuban junior lightweight with the super fast reflexes, makes his first California appearance on the under card at Pechanga Resort and Casino on Saturday. He’s facing undefeated Marcos Ramirez (25-0, 16 KOs).
Gamboa defected from Cuba several years ago and first appeared in German boxing cards. Now he’s fighting out of Florida and won the vacant NABO featherweight title with a first round knockout of Al Seeger.
In the main event Alex Bunema faces Sergio Martinez in a 12 round bout for the interim WBC junior middleweight title. Vernon Forrest has the WBC title after defeating Sergio Mora earlier in September.
Bunema was a surprise winner over former junior middleweight titleholder Roman Karmazin by knockout. Now he’s confronting Martinez, a southpaw knockout puncher from Buenos Aires, Argentina.
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