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Gym Notes: Angulo gets back to work
GYM NOTES: Hard work has enabled Alfredo Angulo to climb the junior middleweight rankings.Summer is typically a slow period in boxing but the gyms of Southern California remain busy during the months of June, July and August.
I got a jump on the local scene’s summer season by visiting three of my favorite gyms in the greater L.A. area -- the Maywood Boxing Club in Maywood, Calif., the Wild Card Boxing Club in Hollywood, Calif., and Fortune Gym, also in Hollywood -- during the final week of May.
I dropped by the Maywood Boxing Club late Friday morning to watch the first sparring session of junior middleweight contender Alfredo Angulo’s camp for his July 17 bout against former beltholder Joachim Alcine.
Angulo (18-1, 15 knockouts), whose bout with Alcine is part of an HBO broadcast headlined by Timothy Bradley, worked seven rounds with Russian middleweight prospect Fedor Chudinov (4-0, 3 KOs).
The first person I noticed when I entered the hot two-ring gym was conditioning coach Darryl Hudson. There aren’t a lot of black folks in the city of Maywood, so Hudson stood out like a sore thumb the way I normally do when I‘m at the busy pro-amateur boxing club.
Hudson told me he is working with Angulo and just completed his first week with the Mexicali, Mexico native.
Adding Hudson to Angulo’s team was a good move by the fighter’s handlers. Rumor has it Angulo struggled to make the 154-pound limit for his most recent fight, a 10th-round stoppage of Joel Julio in April.
To report that Hudson is impressed with Angulo’s work ethic would be an understatement.
“He’s hands down the hardest worker I’ve ever trained,” said Hudson, who has worked with Shane Mosley and Winky Wright. “I’ve never seen a fighter as dedicated as he is. He‘s going somewhere in this sport.”
Angulo weighs 167 pounds now, according to Hudson, which is about what he weighed two weeks before the Julio fight, so THE RING’s No.-4 rated junior middleweight has already improved on his last camp.
However, physical conditioning is not the same thing as “fighting shape.” That part of Angulo’s preparation began with his sparring session with Chudinov.
The contender and the prospect stepped directly to the center of the ring and began trading short hooks and uppercuts from close range in the first round.
Angulo seemed to enjoy the exchanges but that wasn’t what Chudinov’s young co-trainer Manuel Robles Jr. wanted to see from his fighter.
“Don’t stand in front of a fighter like ‘Perro’!” Robles yelled with a minute left in the round. “Let’s get that jab going.”
Chudinov continued to press Angulo without a jab but he did give the more experienced fighter some angles in the final seconds of the round, which enabled him to land two solid left hooks before the bell.
The 24-year-old Russian had an extensive amateur career but it’s going to take some time for him to pick up the finer points of the pro style.
Chudinov struggled to obey Robles’ instructions in rounds two, three and four. He was too eager to trade power shots and too stiff in his upper body to be effective against Angulo, who had a little fun while uncharacteristically sticking and moving around the plodding young Russian.
Hudson and I spotted former lightweight contender Jose Armando Santa Cruz working a heavy bag in the back of the gym between the fourth and fifth rounds of Angulo’s sparring session. Santa Cruz is scheduled to fight Zab Judah on July 16. Judah’s name sparked the subject of “wasted talent,” which led to a conversation about Chris Arreola, the Riverside, Calif.-based heavyweight Hudson has worked with recently.
We both agreed that there’s no point in pontificating about potential matchups with David Haye or Samuel Peter, or even a rematch with Tomasz Adamek, until Arreola has his personal life in order and gets serious about his profession.
Before the start of the fifth round, Angulo snuck up behind Chudinov and gave him a playful swat in the face. Robles didn’t think it was funny and he didn’t want Angulo’s joking around to dash his fighter’s focus.
“Wake up!” Robles yelled. “Side to side! On your toes! Come on, jab! Throw a one-two down the pike. It’s that easy.”
Angulo periodically tied Chudinov up and pinned him to the ropes to test the young man’s physical strength and resolve. To his credit, Chudinov broke free and let his hands go, landing the one-two combinations his trainer wanted to see from him before the bell.
In the sixth round, Chudinov got on his toes and finally got into a boxing rhythm, landing his jab from the outside, which setting up straight right hands.
“This is different from the other sparring session I’ve seen of these two,” Fred Vega, a site coordinator for Chudinov’s promoter, TKO Boxing, said between rounds six and seven. “I saw them spar before Angulo’s fight with Julio and they went to war in every round.”
Angulo got serious for the final round of sparring. The 27-year-old pressure fighter took his shirt off just before the bell and then took it to Chudinov the way he normally goes after his opponents, stalking behind a high guard while firing hard shots to the body and head.
Chudinov has a lot to learn but he’s got the instincts of a real fighter because he blasted back every time Angulo nailed him.
“Angulo looks good,” Vega said. “He’s in better shape now than he was mid-way through his last camp. He was around 180 pounds then.”
That’s bad news for Alcine.
The good news for hardcore fans in Southern California is that Angulo and Chudinov are going to have more sparring sessions that will likely heat up as the contender’s camp progresses. Those who can get to the gym between 11:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. will see the kind of heated exchanges they hope to see in TV fights.
A few fighters you probably haven’t seen on TV, but should keep an eye out for, were training at the Maywood gym the day I was there.
One was Leo Santa Cruz (12-0-1, 4 KOs), the younger brother of Jose Armando. Cruz is a talented junior featherweight who will be in action at the Commerce Casino in Commerce, Calif., on June 3.
The TKO Boxing-promoted card, headlined by middleweight fringe contender Giovanni Lorenzo, will also feature Chudinov and his younger brother Dmitry (4-0, 2 KOs), as well as Randy Caballero (2-0, 2 KOs), a featherweight prospect from Coachella, Calif., I’ve heard great things about.
Two fighters who don’t have scheduled bouts coming up but looked very sharp while working out at the Maywood gym were Ivan Redkach and Yuri Romanov.
Redkach (4-0, 4 KOs) is a 24-year-old junior lightweight prospect from Ukraine. The southpaw boxer-puncher lived at the same national training center that spawned the Klitschko brothers and Sergei Dzinziruk.
Romanov (21-2, 14 KOs) is a 27-year-old lightweight fringe contender from Belarus. He’s been inactive for almost two years due to contract dispute with his management and Russia-based promoter. Both fighters are trained by Ed Goumachian, who co-trains the Chudinov brothers.
One doesn’t have to look hard to find a ballyhooed prospect at the Wild Card Boxing Club, which I visited on Monday. Freddie Roach’s place is crawling with them.
I was there to watch Eloy Perez workout, but I recognized three other unbeaten prospects in the crowed gym before I spotted the Salinas, Calif.-based junior lightweight skipping rope in front of the mirror by the main ring.
I saw Dean Byrne (12-0, 5 KOs), the junior welterweight form Ireland who might be close to sighing with Gary Shaw; Khabir Suleymanov (10-0, 4 KOs), the bantamweight from Russia who looked sharp during his Fight Night Club appearance in April; and Lateef Kayode (12-0, 11 KOs), the cruiserweight from Nigeria who was thrilled to see a double-page action photo of the recent KO he scored on ShoBox in the May 24 issue of Sports Illustrated on the front desk of the United Nations of boxing gyms.
The most heavily hyped prospect of the gym, Jose Benavides (5-0, 5 KOs) was also there. Arizona’s teenage junior welterweight phenom fights on a Top Rank Live card in Chicago on Saturday and is then scheduled to appear on the June 26 Latin Fury pay-per-view show headlined by the Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.-John Duddy fight.
Chavez Jr., who is supposed to be training with Roach, has yet to arrive to the gym.
I enjoyed watching Perez (17-0-2, 4 KOs) work with his trainer Max Garcia and co-trainers Dean Familton and Sam Garcia.
Perez is built like the Tasmanian Devil cartoon character, but he doesn’t fight like the wild Looney Tunes creation. He’s very a settled, crafty counter-puncher.
He’s got the durability, physical strength and tough-guy attitude to be a successful pressure fighter if he wanted to, but his team stresses fundamentals and to his credit, he’s a good student.
Mark my words, Perez, who recently signed with Golden Boy Promotions, is going to shock a world-class junior lightweight before the year is over.
A short jaunt down Vine Street and a left turn on Sunset Boulevard took me from the Wild Card to the Fortune Gym in about 15 minutes on Monday.
The two-year-old gym was started by trainer/conditioning coach Justine Fortune and is home to two other former “second in commands” from Wild Card, Jesse Reid and Macka Foley.
Reid and Foley are among my favorite people to talk boxing with. They’ve got the best stories in the business. Fortune can be a moody sort, so I don’t shoot the breeze with him often. He’s just not the small talk type, in fact he might snarl at you if you try waste his time with it, but when he does have something to say it’s either meaningful information or a really funny comment.
Mysti Friedman, a former fighter who works the front desk and does some personal training, is the heart and soul of the growing gym, in my humble opinion.
She loves boxing unconditionally.
I was hoping to catch former junior bantamweight contender Jose Navarro, who was part of Thursday’s Fight Night Club broadcast, on this day but I missed him.
Still, I was happy to see boxing writer Gabe Montoya, former 130-pound beltholder Mike Anchondo, former heavyweight contender Jeremy Williams, and longtime manager Jackie Kallen in the gym.
Kallen was there to watch her new fighter Stan Martyniouk spar with rugged Vardan “Vito” Gasparyan.
Martyniouk (9-0, 1 KO) is a 24-year-old junior lightweight whose style is still transitioning from amateur to professional but he more than held his own with Gasparyan (11-2-5, 5 KOs), a hardnosed welterweight with an aggressive temperament.
Gasparyan sent Martyniouk to the canvas in the final seconds of their last round, but the Estonia-born Northern Californian got up and handled himself just as he did when he was dropped in the first round of his most recent fight, a six-round split decision over Brian Ramirez on the Paul Williams-Kermit Cintron undercard.
Martyniouk, who is scheduled to appear on the June 19 Andre Ward-Allan Green undercard, has the amateur background, talent, and technique to be a successful prize fighter. However, Kallen believes his dedication and focus makes him special. She says his willingness to move from Sacramento, where he’s lived since he was 14, is proof of his desire to reach his potential.
All he needs is pro seasoning. Kallen and Reid, who began training Martyniouk two weeks ago, should help him attain all he needs.