After a twenty-month absence from boxing, Alfredo, “El Perro” Angulo (26-8, 21 KOs) will return to the ring this Saturday, June 11th, at the Center Stage Theater, in Atlanta, Georgia. In a card titled “Summertime Brawl,” promoted by Prestige Boxing Advisory Group in association with BFC The Last Round Promotions, Angulo will attempt to relaunch his career.
Known as “El Perro” for his relentless, pressure style of fighting, the rugged Mexican has fought some of the best fighters in the world. Including wins over Gabriel Rosado, Joachim Alcine, and Peter Quillen and suffering brutal losses at the hands of Saul “Canelo” Alvarez, James Kirkland, and Erislandy Lara.
In an exclusive interview with NYFights, “El Perro” shares what motivated him to return to the ring after such an extensive layoff. Additionally, he talks about the desire to fight a rematch with Canelo Alvarez and plans to write a “tell-all” book chronicling his life inside and outside the ring.
From the comfort of his humble home in Mexico, or “La Frontera,” as he described it, the former WBO champion was dressed comfortably and looked like he was in great shape. Known for his punishing ferocity in the ring, I was pleasantly surprised when the man dubbed “El Perro” greeted me with a smile as he answered my first question. “I'm doing well and appreciate you doing this interview with me,” said Angulo.
In his last appearance, Angulo shockingly lost to a last-minute replacement. As always, Angulo fought tough, but it wasn't enough to edge an opponent that was seven years younger. Perhaps the infamous “father time” caught up with the older Mexican warrior.
Angulo dismisses the idea that he lost the fight due to his age. Instead, he blames fighting in “the bubble” as the single contributing factor to his loss that night. “The bubble,” some of you may ask? With much of the United States now open and relaxing their social distancing guidelines in response to the Corona Virus pandemic, some of us may have forgotten the days of the strict lockdown policies that kept most of us in our homes. Which often included wearing pajamas, unshaven, unkempt, and losing our minds binge-watching the train wreck that was “The Tiger King.”
Within the early months of the pandemic, boxing was one of the first sports to televise events under “the bubble” restrictions which prohibited live audiences. If you remember “the bubble” fights, you remember how awkward it was watching live boxing without any spectators. It took some time for me to get used to not hearing the raucous of a live audience. Frankly, I don't think I ever got used to it. I could only imagine what it was like to be a fighter like Alfredo, who is used to having thousands of fans in attendance to suddenly fight in an empty room.
“That fight was very difficult for me because being in the ring without hearing the crowd; it felt like it was a sparring session. I like to hear and see the crowd; it was critical for my performance. The cheer from the crowd motivates me round after round. Hearing the roaring of the crowd gives me a desire and hunger to fight harder each round and give the best of me in the ring,” said the Mexican native. Angulo continued, “I missed the crowd and I'm going to be real happy fighting in an arena, in front of an audience again.”
The punishing nature of boxing takes a physical and mental toll on fighters. Performing at an elite level has a short shelf life. By the age of thirty-five, most fighters are in the twilight of their careers. At thirty-nine, most boxing careers are on life support. However, Angulo believes that he can still fight at a high level and compete for a world title.
Alfredo is thirty-nine years old and will turn forty a month after his comeback fight. So, what does the old Mexican warhorse hope to achieve this time around? “First, we will use the fight on the 11th to make an honest assessment of my boxing skills and see where I really stand – if I can advance and fight tougher opposition- or that I can't go any further,” said Alfredo humbly. Angulo continued, “I believe that the quality of a fighter lies here and here (pointing to his head and his heart). Throughout my career, I've had many wars. I thank God that I feel good. I'm physically and mentally conscious of what I can achieve.”
In his last fight, Angulo was trained by renowned trainer Abel Sanchez. Unfortunately, Abel Sanchez has since retired, and Angulo was in search of a new trainer. That search brought him back to his native home, where he linked up with his cousin Raul Lau Sanchez. Sánchez has dedicated his entire life to boxing, and his work is respected by the local boxing community and recognized by the Mexicali Boxing Commission. “It has been a great partnership so far,” said Angulo.
Even though he is almost forty years old and is coming off a twenty-two-month hiatus, the gritty veteran says he hasn't changed how he prepares for a fight. “Honestly, I've never been much for talking about my skills. I like to demonstrate what I can do inside the ring; I think on June 11th, the people will see where I stand,” said Angulo to NYFights. The former champion continued, “I think I am the same fighter I was when I started boxing. As I stated earlier, I am back where it all started. I think it's beautiful to return to your origins. I think it's necessary to regain that hunger from where it all started.”
One of boxing's superstars is Saul “Canelo” Alvarez, whom many believe is one of the greatest Mexican boxers of all time and is on his way to probably becoming one of the greatest fighters of all time. After losing to Floyd Mayweather Jr., Canelo's next opponent was Alfredo Angulo. Angulo was Canelo's first victory of a sixteen-fight win streak before losing to Dmitry Bivol this past May.
It's been eight years since that fight, and I was curious to know if Angulo considered his compatriot as one of the greatest Mexican boxers of all time and if he thinks Canelo's loss to Bivol would jeopardize the superstar's legacy.
“I believe that Canelo's journey is interesting. They've known how to manage his career correctly. They have done wonderful things with his career. I believe that he is in a perfect position in his career. He has followed the advice of those within his camp. I believe that Bivol fought an intelligent fight-he fought his fight and not Canelo's. As a result, his hand was raised in victory. Unfortunately, Canelo's plan didn't allow him to be victorious that night. Canelo will continue to surprise the fans with his fights,” said Angulo.
This Saturday, Angulo is fighting a tune-up fight against a veteran boxer from Colombia, which I believe “El Perro” should have no problems dispatching within the first five rounds. So, what's next for the old Mexican warrior after June 11th? Does he desire a rematch with the “Mexican King” of boxing, Saul Alvarez?
This is what Alfredo Angulo told NYFights.
“Honestly, I've always liked to focus on the challenge in front of me. Right now, I'm focused on the Colombian fighter. And after I win, I will talk with my team and see what's next. I believe that a rematch is important because It's been eight years, and I have been waiting for that rematch. But, unfortunately, for one reason or another, it didn't happen. That night, I wasn't satisfied with Tony Weeks' work (the referee). Even though he is a referee with a lot of experience, I think he made a bad decision that night. He didn't do his job correctly -It's the thorn in my side, and it nags me.”
After the Canelo fight, Angulo has always expressed that he wasn't satisfied with his performance. So, I asked him if he still believed that he had performed poorly that night?
“Here shortly, we will release a book and explain precisely what happened the night I fought Canelo Alvarez. Unfortunately, my team did something against me. My own team. What they did affected my performance. I wasn't even fifty percent of who normally is Alfredo “El Perro” Angulo that night.”
I pressed Alfredo for details, but he wouldn't divulge any. He simply said, “No, I think it'll take away from the book. But what I will tell you is that I never thought that my own team would betray me – play me wrong. The only thing that kept me on my feet that night was the heart that every Mexican has, and excuse my language, the balls of a fighter.”
Angulo told NYFights that his “tell-all” book will chronicle what he believes happened when he fought Canelo Alvarez and his life. “It's a story that people don't know. My journey, my obstacles, immigration, and to clarify things about me that perhaps people may know.”
Boxing isn't dubbed the cruelest sport for no reason. The life of a fighter is difficult, and often loved ones share the hardships along with the warriors they love. Who can forget the image of Jinkee Pacquiao feeding her battered husband after his loss against Yordenis Ugas? Or Melissa Cotto crying on Miguel Cotto's shoulder after his defeat against Canelo Alvarez?
Many fighters find it difficult to hang up the gloves despite these hardships. They are either unaware or live in denial that their skills have eroded with time. For others, it's the only way they know how to provide for their family. Unfortunately, it often results in boxers fighting well past their prime and possibly suffering lifelong injuries no matter the reason.
But for Angulo, the thrill of fighting in front of a screaming crowd draws him back into the ring. But, aside from the cheers of his endearing fans, Angulo draws strength from those closest to him. “Nothing motivates me more than my family. My kids and the wonderful wife that God blessed me with. I want my kids to feel proud of me in the future. To remember of what their father was,” said Angulo proudly.
Whether or not the second coming of “El Perro” is a success, he wants to be remembered as a fighter who always gave the best of himself and left it all in the ring each time he fought. “I want the people to remember that they know I left it all in the ring every time they saw Alfredo Angulo fight. That I fought with my heart in victory and in defeat. That I never retreated in a fight. And the one thing that no one will ever take away from me is that I have the love and support of my fans. I will never be able to repay them other than to give the very best of me in the ring,” said Angulo.
And with that, “El Perro” assured his fans that they could expect nothing less than his very best this Saturday at the Center Stage Theater in Atlanta, Georgia. “Every time you see Alfredo Angulo on a card, it will be a spectacular event. This June 11th will not be the exception.”
Many boxers past the “prime age” to fight have returned to the ring after an extended absence. After being away for ten years, retired former heavyweight champion George Foreman defied father time and returned to the ring when he was thirty-eight years old. Seven years after his return at the age of forty-five, he recaptured the world heavyweight title. Alfredo “El Perro” Angulo's boxing style is one of attrition and downright masochism. Angulo has punished opponents with his in-your-face attack and can probably still win enough fights to put himself back in contention status. However, he has been on the receiving end of the same punishment he has dished out through the years.
Furthermore, Angulo said during the interview that he hasn't changed anything in the way he prepares for a fight. This leads me to believe that he won't change his brand of fighting either. Can a thirty-nine-year-old boxer with a taxing fighting style relaunch a successful comeback and win a world title? Like my boss, Michael Woods likes to say, “Boxing is the theater of the unexpected.” Only Alfredo Angulo can determine what happens in the second go-around of his career. But one thing I am sure of is that “El Perro,” will leave it all in the ring trying to make it so.