Commentary

Angulo continues to grow inside the ring

Just over a year ago, no one knew Alfredo Angulo from any other hard-nosed, Los Angeles-based pug just trying to make it inside the ring. How things have changed, writes Robert Morales.

Originally Published: October 5, 2008
By Robert Morales | Special to ESPN.com

Alfredo AnguloNaoki FukudaAlfredo Angulo, right, threw everything in his arsenal at Andrey Tsurkan in a winning effort on Saturday.
TEMECULA, Calif. -- When boxing manager Mike Criscio first came upon junior middleweight Alfredo Angulo in early 2007, he found a boxer far different than the one he works with today.

Angulo was a down-on-his-luck fighter who was living with five other boxers in a one-room dwelling just trying to make it in the Los Angeles area.

"He had no food and he was ready to quit," said Criscio. "But I got him a place to live, money to live on and the proper tools to train on."

That's because Criscio, who also manages light heavyweight titlist Chad Dawson, saw something else in Angulo.

[+] EnlargeAlfredo Angulo
Naoki FukudaIt took every minute of all 10 rounds for Alfredo Angulo to cut down Andrey Tsurkan on Saturday.
"The same things I see in Chad, the heart and determination to do well for his family," Criscio said of Mexico-born Angulo, who now lives in the Los Angeles suburb of Paramount with his fiance and their daughter. "You could see if this kid was to give his all, he would be a terror in the ring."

Angulo was all that on Saturday when he stopped tough-as-nails Andrey Tsurkan of the Bronx, N.Y., via Ukraine at 2:27 of the 10th round.

Angulo, 26, displayed a full arsenal in taking apart Tsurkan round after round. The heavy-fisted Angulo worked the body and head beautifully, even retaining most of his power when he switched from an orthodox stance to southpaw.

For a fighter who now has just 14 professional fights, Angulo (14-0, 11 KOs) came off as very polished. He remained calm, even as Tsurkan refused to taste the canvas despite absorbing tremendous punishment.

"I got that from sparring with all the great fighters -- Antonio Maragarito, Roy Jones Jr., Ricky Hatton," said Angulo, a 2004 Mexican Olympian.

Angulo hit Tsurkan with everything but the kitchen sink. But Tsurkan (26-4), who was stopped for just the second time in 30 fights, displayed a granite chin and incredible heart.

Just about any other fighter would have folded much earlier. Tsurkan's face did show what kind of a beating he took, with both of his eyes puffy and blackened underneath, but he never stopped trying to win.

"This was one of my toughest fights so far," Angulo said. "He was a great opponent, but he couldn't keep up with me."

It wasn't long after Criscio rescued Angulo from his doldrums that Angulo signed a promotional contract with Gary Shaw. Shaw likes what he sees thus far.

"When I saw him spar, I saw Margarito in him," Shaw said of Angulo, who has been a sparring partner for Margarito the past two years. "I saw a determination in him."

There's that word again.

He fights with fire. I don't want to say he fights with reckless abandon, but he's sure a fan-pleaser. When he has a fighter hurt, he finishes him. He senses that.

-- Promoter Gary Shaw, on Alfredo Angulo's intensity inside the ring

"He fights with fire," said Shaw, who has had Angulo for eight fights. "I don't want to say he fights with reckless abandon, but he's sure a fan-pleaser. When he has a fighter hurt, he finishes him. He senses that."

It was Tsurkan's corner that asked a member of the California State Athletic Commission to throw in the towel Saturday, as referee Tony Crebs appeared content to let Tsurkan finish the fight. Anthony Fiorino, Tsurkan's manager, said that those who believed the fight should have been stopped earlier don't realize just how tough Tsurkan is.

Still, Fiorino praised Angulo.

"He is a tough, tough kid," Fiorino said. "Big banger. He's a very good fighter."

Indeed, these days things are going splendidly for Angulo. He was formerly managed by Ismael Mares -- father of fellow Mexican Olympian Abner Mares -- and promoted by Golden Boy Promotions, but wasn't getting the fights or exposure he craved. Since hooking up with Criscio and Shaw, things have changed for the better.

"Gary Shaw and Mike [Criscio] believed in me," said Angulo, speaking in grateful tones.

Shaw said that down the road he would like to see Angulo take on Margarito -- a welterweight champion -- at junior middleweight. Shaw said he would also like to entertain the idea of Angulo moving up for just one fight to take on middleweight contender John Duddy.

The fight Team Angulo wants next, however, is one with Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.

"He has been asking to be tested," said Angulo, "and I want to give him the test of his life."

Robert Morales covers boxing for the Long Beach (Calif.) Press-Telegram.