COMMENTARY | Junior middleweight contender, Alfredo "El Perro" Angulo (20-2, 17 KOs), returns to the ring this Saturday at the Staples Center in Los Angeles as part of the Abner Mares-Anselmo Moreno undercard. It'll be the first time Angulo has fought in over a year. More importantly, it'll be a return to normalcy after one year of hellish chaos and professional uncertainty.
In mid-2011, in the prime of his career and with a world title shot in his short-term future, immigration issues forced a halt to his progress and forced him back to his native Mexicali, Baja California, Mexico. A lot of questions remain about the nature of the immigration issues and who, exactly, made the government aware of those issues, but the situation was seriousness enough for Angulo to move back to Mexico and try to continue his career from down there.
After an easy "stay busy" contest in Mexicali, Angulo found himself paired with fellow blue-collar battling contender, James Kirkland in a bout billed as a WBC junior middleweight eliminator in Cancun. However, two weeks before the highly-anticipated war, a family tragedy took the wind out of him.
"Two weeks before that fight, my sister's son was kidnapped in Mexicali and I think I wasn't 100% focused [on the fight]. My body was there, but my mind was somewhere else," Angulo told ESPN Deportes.
Still, Angulo managed to give fans the 2011 Round of the Year in the first round of the fight, dropping Kirkland in the first thirty seconds of the bout, only to be knocked down, himself, later that same round.
Having never really recovered from his knockdown and despite battling through exhaustion, Angulo put up a valiant effort, fighting out of instinct and accounting well for himself before finally succumbing to Kirkland's brutal barrages in the sixth round.
The loss would be a major blow to Angulo and his career progression. The Kirkland bout was supposed to be the lead-in to a Mexico-based shot at WBC champ, Saul Alvarez. It would've been a major payday without having to cross back into American territory. Most of all, it was a bout that Angulo felt he could win. But all of that was off the table with the loss.
Two months after the Kirkland fight, Angulo was advised by his attorneys to turn himself into U.S. Immigration officials in order to resolve his immigration issues. But rather than a quick trip through the legal system, Angulo was met with red tape and bureaucracy, forced to remain incarcerated in an immigrant detention center in El Centro, California for about seven months before finally being released to resume his career.
Now, just three months after his release, Angulo will be back at work, doing what he does best against unproven Texas-based club fighter, Raul Casarez (19-2, 9 KOs). Realistically, if Angulo is even a shadow of his former self, Casarez should be little more than a light snack for the fighter from Mexicali. The bigger fight will be down the road as Angulo looks to reestablish himself on the junior middleweight main stage.
But the 154 lb. class is absolutely stacked at the moment, filled with hungry, quality talent. From veteran fighters like Miguel Cotto and Cornelius Bundrage to young lions like Saul Alvarez, Erislandy Lara, and Vanes Martirosyan, the division is supremely deep. Also worthy of note are unsung contenders such as Carlos Molina, Austin Trout, and, of course, former Angulo conqueror, James Kirkland.
If Angulo wants to live the dream of being a world champ, there's no more room for error. He has to win, win impressively, and move quickly up the ranks. Having Golden Boy Promotions guiding his career is a big help, but the beginning and end of his ascension depends on his ability to perform.
This Saturday, Alfredo Angulo will be fighting for his career. The battle may be buried on an undercard, but for "El Perro," this is life and death-- A "must win" situation by the strictest definition of such a term.
At the very least, the last year of hellish uncertainty has prepared Angulo well for such a gut check.
"Yes, I did go through a very difficult period," Angulo said in a media conference call last week. "but I've proven to myself and I've proven to everybody that I'm ready for anything."
Paul Magno was a licensed official in the state of Michoacan, Mexico and a close follower of the sport for more than thirty years. His work can also be found on Fox Sports and The Boxing Tribune. In the past, Paul has done work for Inside Fights, The Queensberry Rules and Eastside Boxing.
Santos A. Perez, Junior-middleweight contender Angulo resumes fighting in U.S., The Miami Herald