When a boxer is a “fighter” in every sense of the word it often makes walking away next to impossible despite all signs leading to the exit. The thinking is less rational, speech a bit slurred, and voices in the head more faint. But the desire rages on as games of self deception prevail and another fight is signed.
If Angel “Got Jesus” Manfredy could still comprehend the voices in his head, they'd be telling him not to do it again. Yet, despite what everyone around him suggests, another trip between the ropes is in his future. And his wife is his manager.
Angel Manfredy has been a true fighter in that he has gone to war with the best of his division at the time, and lost, but he did beat every one below him on the way to getting those deserving title shots. The veteran will see his 30th birthday this year, but to hear his slurred speech and watch him in the ring, any observer can see he has lost a step, or two, and is much older in ring years than his birth certificate indicates.
In his most recent loss to Courtney Burton, Manfredy was literally beaten at the hands of a younger, faster, stronger opponent. The will was there but the body and mind clearly could not execute as before. As Manfredy lay on the ring mat, entwined with the ropes and fumbling to take out his mouthpiece it looked like he finally realized that time had run out. It is an internal battle coming to grips with the fact that something you have done so well for so long just can't be done any more.
I get out of bed each morning and stretch out before I truly wake up. I can't bend over and touch my toes like I used to, but my memory is so bad I convince myself that I never could. I'm not getting older and slower, just wiser (or so I think). The hyper-religious Angel Manfredy likely gets on his knees and prays to his God each night. I'm sure the knees ache a bit more these days as he takes his position as he asks for the strength to carry on.
At the end of 1997 and start of 1998 Manfredy was in his prime beating the likes of Arturo Gatti, Jorge Paez and John Brown in exciting fights as his “El Diablo” and “Angel” personas gave him marketability. At the end of 1998 Manfredy wore the WBU Super Featherweight belt and became the litmus test that 18-0 Floyd Mayweather passed with flying colors in proving too strong and too fast for Manfredy. The bout was stopped in the second round with Manfredy protesting, but the ending was inevitable and the perhaps early stoppage only saved him from a beating.
After losing in his WBC Lightweight title shot to Stevie Johnston in 1999, he fought his way back to an IBF/IBA Super Featherweight shot against the undefeated Diego Corrales. At 6' tall and freakish power in both hands, the 32-0 Corrales was more than Manfredy could handle and he paid a dear price. Giving up 6 inches he simply could not touch Corrales without getting pummeled, and so he was. Three knockdowns later the punishment was over after less than 3 rounds. Manfredy being Manfredy meant that he would work his tail off to gain another shot, this time the IBF Lightweight title held by Pittsburgh's Paul Spadafora was at stake. Again Manfredy left the ring without his arm being raised. The road back was one that Manfredy chose once more and that lead to the disaster created by Courtney Burton. Sure he won his last fight but at what cost does he ask whether he still has it?
A manager is supposed to look out for the best interests of his/her fighter and a little coffee talk with Angel Manfredy is all you need to know the fighter is better off walking away. Sometimes a fighter refuses to listen and the manager has to make the decision to walk in order to have a clear conscious. If that same manager is the wife of the boxer, boxing becomes secondary.
Now at a point where Angel Manfredy can longer look out for himself, by himself, someone needs to provide him with the gospel before it is too late. When Manfredy prays to his God each night I can only pray that he listens to the message.