The always tough Alfredo “El Perro” Angulo met up with the talented Cuban Erislandy Lara in a supporting contest to the Maidana vs. Lopez headliner in Carson City last Saturday night. In front of a record-breaking audience, the super welterweight contest figured to be a classic boxer vs. brawler confrontation in which the skilled and quick Lara—the 4-to-1 favourite—held the upper hand against the swarming, plodding Angulo. The winner would bring himself closer to juicier paychecks and fights in bigger stages against the likes of Austin Trout, Miguel Cotto, or perhaps even the stars of the upcoming mega-fight between Floyd Mayweather Jr. and “Canelo” Alvarez, while the loser could move several spots down the pecking order. With so much on the line, Angulo vs. Lara promised both action and drama.
The bout exceeded expectations in the entertainment department, as it became a see-saw battle in which momentum shifted several times. Lara took the initiative in the first couple of rounds, landing quick jabs, left-crosses and counter-uppercuts on the inside that staggered Angulo and made him look much slower in comparison. However, the Mexican chased after the Cuban all over the ring, catching up with him several times and landing thudding left hooks to the body. Evidently, Angulo’s plan was to focus on the body early on in order to rob Erislandy of his legs during the final stretch of the fight.
In the third stanza, Alfredo stepped up his work rate and earned his first ten-points round. In the fourth he landed a wicked left hook to Erislandy’s jaw that dropped the Cuban to the canvas. The power of the blow was compounded by the fact Lara wasn’t expecting it, since “El Perro” had been hooking exclusively to the body up until that point. However, the Cuban regrouped impressively from the first knockdown of his career. With renewed conviction on the superiority of his gameplan, for the next few rounds Lara continued sticking the jab, following up with the left hand, and side-stepping and counter-punching Angulo, looking every bit the part of the matador against his opponent’s impression of a rushing bull.
Angulo closed the gap again in the ninth round, making it a hard one to judge, and in the tenth he scored a second knockdown with a tremendous left hook that landed on the Cuban’s jaw again. But just like before, Lara recovered quickly and carried on executing his pre-planned strategy. The end came prematurely in round ten, a close round with plenty of action that reached an abrupt conclusion after a hard left cross from Erislandy connected on Alfredo’s right eyebrow, turning it into a huge tennis ball-sized bump. Immediately after receiving that punch, the Mexican turned his back to Lara and walked to his corner grimacing in pain, with the referee halting the action and thus granting Lara the win by TKO.
Conflicting post-fight reports suggested that that last punch either broke Angulo’s orbital bone or that Lara accidentally thumbed Alfredo’s eye. Nevertheless, many observers praised Lara’s performance, whose chin stood up against Angulo’s renowned punching power, and who efficiently handled the Mexican’s normally crippling pressure. What we’re all hoping for is not only that Lara’s victory is rewarded with a big fight next time out, but also that he has learned the importance of balancing fans’ desire for action with his skillful practice of the sweet science.
It can be argued that the loss for “El Perro” is more a product of bad luck than of his own making, but in addition to the physical damage he sustained, Angulo has once again failed to deliver a win in an important fight. Further, Angulo is at this point an old and worn 30-year-old fighter who just took part in yet another taxing battle without fully capitalizing on the opportunity. It will take time and serious rebuilding if he is to get the shot at the big time he has craved his entire career. — Rafael Garcia