Reaching contending status and securing coveted fight dates on HBO and Showtime were not enough to save Alfredo Angulo from an unexpected and unusual departure from the sport.
Angulo’s career and path to a world junior-middleweight title hit a roadblock earlier this year. A native of Mexico, Angulo was charged with violating immigration laws. The infraction resulted in Angulo serving a seven-month stay at an immigration detention facility in El Centro, Calif.
Released in August and immigration issues resolved, Angulo eagerly anticipates his ring return. Angulo will face Raul Casarez Saturday night at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.
“Yes, I did go through a very difficult period, but I’ve proven to myself and I’ve proven to everybody that I’m ready for anything,” Angulo said in a conference call last week.
“I’m here legally. Everything is fine. The process is behind me.”
Before his detention, Angulo had been deported to Mexico, where he fought twice in 2011, including a sixth-round technical knockout loss against James Kirkland last November. Saturday’s bout will be Angulo’s first since the loss to Kirkland and first in the United States since 2010.
Angulo, 30, said the detention forced him to reflect on life’s priorities and strengthened his desire to fight again.
“I kept thinking about my daughter, [who] is very important to me,” Angulo said. “And also, I kept thinking about helping other detainees that were in the same situation as I was. Get out and making a difference in helping them out.
“And, obviously, the last thing was being able to get back in the ring and fighting in the United States again.”
Angulo (20-2, 17 KOs) rose through the junior-middleweight ranks with impressive performances in the United States from 2007 to 2010. Angulo scored knockout wins against Richard Gutierrez, Joel Julio, Harry Joe Yorgey and Joachim Alcine. His lone blemish on his record before Kirkland was a decision loss against Kermit Cintron three years ago at the Hard Rock Live Arena in Hollywood.
“I know that Casarez is a very good fighter,” Angulo said. “I’ve never asked for easy opponents. So, if anything, I’m going to be ready, and I’m going to give the fans what they deserve.”
Angulo’s return enhances the junior-middleweight division, which already features Miguel Cotto and titleholders Saul Alvarez and Austin Trout. Also seeking to make their push to junior-middleweight elite are Cuba’s Erislandy Lara and Armenia’s Vanes Martirosyan.
Found among the top 10 in most junior-middleweight rankings, Lara (17-1-1, 11 KOs) and Martirosyan (32-0, 20 KOs) will fight Saturday night in Las Vegas.
Lara, a former Miami resident who now lives in Houston, has two impressive wins this year since his controversial decision loss against Paul Williams in September 2011. Lara scored a first-round TKO against Ronald Hearns in April and won a lopsided decision against Freddy Hernandez two months later.
• Miami resident Damian Frias lost a split decision against Kazakhstan’s Vitaliy Demyanenko in their welterweight bout late Saturday in Tacoma, Wash. Two judges scored the fight for Demyanenko 97-92 and 95-94, and the third had Frias winning 96-93.
Demyanenko improved to 22-0. Frias lost his second consecutive fight and is now 19-6-1.
Former world super-middleweight champion Lucian Bute won a unanimous decision against Dennis Grachev on Saturday night in Montreal. Bute (31-1) won on all three scorecards, 115-113, 118-110 and 116-112.
The bout was Bute’s first since losing his title in a fifth-round TKO defeat against Carl Froch May 26.