Thursday, June 6, 2013
Angulo-Lara a battle of styles
By Dan Rafael
Which do you like? A fighter with excellent power, constant aggression and a brawling style, or somebody with smooth technical skills and speed who practices the art of the sweet science?
Whichever it is, you'll have somebody to be interested in when Alfredo "Perro" Angulo, the puncher/brawler from Mexico, squares off with Erislandy Lara, the southpaw product of the famed Cuban national team for which he won a world amateur title.
Angulo, 30, and Lara, 29, have utterly contrasting styles, which will be on display when they fight for a vacant interim junior middleweight belt on Saturday night (Showtime, 10 ET; preliminary bouts on Showtime Extreme beginning at 8 ET) at the Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif.
Their fight is the middle bout in what should be an entertaining tripleheader topped by a brawl-in-the-making between welterweights Marcos Maidana (33-3, 30 KOs) and Josesito Lopez (30-5, 18 KOs); hot junior middleweight prospect Jermell Charlo (20-0, 10 KOs) opens the show in a step-up fight against Demetrius Hopkins (33-2-1, 13 KOs), the nephew of Bernard Hopkins.
While Angulo (22-2, 18 KOs) and Lara (17-1-2, 11 KOs) understand that they bring different styles to the ring, and while each hopes his style triumphs, it's usually the skills that pay the bills even if brawlers are more exciting.
"Style-wise, this is a perfect fight for me because Angulo likes to come forward," Lara said through a translator. "It's the classic boxer versus the puncher. I expect to put on a boxing clinic, so you can expect a smart fight from me.
"I'm really excited for this fight. Come [Saturday], I'm going to put on a boxing display and finally get the W over a top fighter that has been taken from me in my past fights."
All three blemishes on Lara's record have come with controversy. His ninth-round technical draw with Vanes Martirosyan in a November title eliminator ended when Martirosyan suffered a bad cut over his left eye from an accidental head butt. Many thought Lara had done enough to win, but it was ruled a split draw.
Lara's majority decision loss to Paul Williams in 2011 will go down as one of the most controversial calls in recent years. It was so bad that New Jersey suspended all three judges for their woeful scorecards. Lara also has a majority draw with fellow contender Carlos Molina in 2011.
"Angulo is a very tough fighter who can overwhelm his opponents with the pressure style he brings to the ring," Lara said. "I know I'm up against a very tough challenge, but he's never been in the ring with a world-class fighter like me. There is nothing he does that I haven't already seen. My goal is to give him a boxing lesson and win my first world championship."
Trainer Ronnie Shields, who has worked with numerous top fighters, does not see how Angulo's limited skills can match up with Lara's.
"I don't see any fighters in the division that can match skills with Lara," Shields said. "Lara is in a class of his own. He's one of the most advanced fighters I've been around in a very long time, and I can say that with confidence."
As skilled as Lara is, Angulo claims he is trying to add a little more boxing technique to his repertoire under the guidance of 2011 Trainer of the Year Virgil Hunter, whom Angulo will be working with for the third fight in a row following a year out of the ring while he ironed out his serious immigration issues and spent time in border detention.
"What's most exciting for Alfredo Angulo's team is that he's just now putting everything together and really learning the craft of boxing under Virgil Hunter," Golden Boy promoter Oscar De La Hoya said.
Said Angulo: "This is my third fight after my time off, and conditioning-wise I'm feeling like my old self, feeling like I used to feel. There's no doubt I'll be in better condition than I was for my last two fights. There was just too much time off. Now, I'm in a rhythm.
"It's going to be a very good fight, the bull versus the matador. I have a lot of respect for Lara. He's a really good fighter and he wants to show he's the best, but he's going to have to come out and fight."