A few years ago, lightweight contender Angel Manfredy discovered he was fighting for the wrong side.
This is a scary thing to realize, that the spiritual cheerleader in your corner for all these years isn’t who you really thought he was, that he might have a darker side you never saw before.
This “El Diablo” character wasn’t really what Angel was looking for, though they‘d been through some tough times together.
So after some particularly rough years, Angel jumped to the other side. He put away his pitchfork and his devil image – stomped on them, really – and dove head-first into what might be called a religious fervor. And that’s where he lives now, deep in the web of the Lord.
This doesn‘t mean Angel goes to church every Sunday and tosses an extra 25 bucks when they pass the tray around. It means he’s never out of church. He carries his religious beliefs with him at all times like the rest of us carry our wallet or our keys. It might get a little old, but he’s never more than a short paragraph of quotes away from Jesus Christ. Apparently, Angel (40-6-1, 29 KOs) discovered that Jesus was a much better cornerman than the beast with the horns and the forked tail and the sadistic sense of humor.
He’s pretty sure there will be some extra help in his corner this Monday when he fights Moises Pedroza (23-4-1, 20 KOs) of Colombia in Little Rock, Arkansas. Of course, he’ll probably be the first to tell you that Moises could also have a little extra help. God doesn’t pick sides in a prize fight.
If you’ve never seen Angel fight, you should know that he’s a walking billboard for every tattoo joint in Gary, Indiana, Angel’s place of birth. You get the feeling the students at the Acme School of Body Piercing and Tattooing used him for practice.
He also has a shaved head which makes him look menacing, like someone who is about to rob a pawn shop. But then you remember who he is and what he believes and he suddenly reminds you of a Mongolian monk in shorts.
But if religion works for Angel, that’s fine. Sometimes, when people start to feel themselves slipping into the abyss, they have to have something to grab onto. And Angel was apparently close to falling in when he tried to commit suicide a few years ago after losing a fight to Stevie Johnston. So he grabbed onto religion and pulled himself up and now he still holds it tight. It keeps him from falling in again.
The fight game has never been a popular stopping point for religious zealots. It’s a brutal, violent sport with more than its share of bad guys with bad intentions. You figure God doesn’t spend a lot of time there.
Then you think of Angel Manfredy and you know better.