Michael Rosenthal

Angulo pleased to be back in the game

Alfredo Angulo can put a positive spin on the fact he has been out of boxing for the past 13 months.

The hard-charging junior middleweight contender from Mexico was able to spend precious time with family and friends in Mexicali, his hometown. He went about 11 months without boxing at all, allowing his body to heal from typical aches and pains.

And, most important, he was able to sort out his stalled career and get a fresh start.

"El Perro" had a bitter split with promoter Gary Shaw and signed with Golden Boy Promotions, under whose banner he’ll fight journeyman Joseph Gomez of Bloomfield, N.M., on Saturday night in Mexicali on ESPN Deportes and ESPN3.com.

Now he hopes to resolve visa issues that have prevented him from fighting in the United States, the final step in the full resumption of his career.

“Yes, it was frustrating,” Angulo said in a phone interview from his training camp in Mexicali, speaking through a translator. “I couldn’t do what I love to do the most, which is to fight.

“I always had a desire to fight. That’s why it was so frustrating.”

Angulo’s problems with Shaw stem mostly from an offer to fight Sergio Martinez on HBO in the fall of last year – before Angulo’s visa issues — and the fighter’s inactivity.

Shaw said HBO offered him $900,000 and he in turn offered Angulo a career-high $750,000, the balance being Shaw’s percentage of the pie. Angulo asked for $1 million, Shaw said that was impossible and the two haven’t spoken since.

Angulo believes he was low-balled. “I know a lot more money was available for that fight. Shaw just didn’t want to move,” Angulo said.

Shaw said he had no flexibility based on HBO’s offer.

The result is that fighter and promoter have parted ways, Shaw accepting a buy out from Golden Boy to give up rights to Angulo. Both Angulo and Shaw, who once were close, were wounded by the split.

“I don’t believe we have the same values. Money was more important to him than our friendship,” Angulo said.

Said Shaw: “I’m at peace because all I did was love him like a son.”

U.S. immigration officials determined last September that Angulo had overstayed his visa here, meaning he had no choice but to return to his native Mexico and wait.

Michael Miller, Angulo’s advisor and an attorney, said he is working on getting Angulo a new visa and believes it will happen soon. The fighter, who had been living in Southern California, also is optimistic.

“Everything was processed correctly this time. We’re just waiting for final approval,” Angulo said.

The inactivity also weighed on Angulo, who could fight anywhere outside the U.S. He blamed Shaw, saying the promoter failed to get to him fights. Shaw said he had difficulty even reaching the fighter in the Mexico.

The bottom line: He didn’t fight for more than a year, which put a halt to the considerable momentum he had established with four consecutive knockouts against good fighters after he was outpointed by Kermit Cintron in May 2009.

Angulo said he has been training diligently in Mexicali for two months, including 250 rounds of hard sparring. He doesn’t expect to experience any ring rust in what amounts to a tune-up fight.

“I’m really excited, in really good shape,” he said.

Angulo probably won’t have problems with Gomez (17-4-1, 8 KOS), a light puncher who has lost three of his past four fights.

However, a victory could lead immediately to something big. The WBC has ordered a title eliminator between Angulo and Vanes Martirosyan, the winner becoming the mandatory challenger to titleholder Saul Alvarez.

Both fighters apparently are eager to make the fight either in the U.S. or Mexico. And Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer said he already has discussed it with officials at Showtime and HBO and received “tremendous interest.”

Next Schaefef must discuss it with Martirosyan’s promoter, Bob Arum of Top Rank.

“I don’t think Martirosyan has a problem fighting Angulo in Mexico,” Schaefer said. “The Mexican fans love him. I just need to sit down with Bob and see if we can get it done.”

Angulo said he isn’t looking past Gomez but, if things go well, he believes the Martirosyan fight will happen. He also thinks Alvarez would fight him, although “Canelo” probably will want to gain more experience before taking on that challenge.

For now, “El Perro” is just glad to be back in the game and past a difficult year.

“Whether I win a title or not, I’ve already put Gary Shaw and that part of my life behind me,” he said. “… I’m done with that. I’m very happy right now.”

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