The Angulo-Margarito Paradox

Alfredo Angulo

Alfredo Angulo

It seems that emerging junior middleweight star Alfredo Angulo (19-1, 16 KOs) is facing deportation to Mexico. It’s been suspected in boxing circles for some time that he’s had legal issues regarding his immigration status, but released a report this morning that verifies this hunch.

First off, the article, quite sensationally entitled “Alfredo Angulo’s U.S. Career Crumbles, HBO Walks,” is written by Michael Marley. Anyone familiar with Mr. Marley’s work will immediately recognize his penchant for histrionics. His assertion that he will never again fight in the U.S., or on a major television outlet, is questionable, if not laughable. Angulo and his team are going to seek a visa for re-entry after the legal issues are settled (and, to the best of my knowledge, are allowed to do so), and are otherwise cooperating with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). And anyway, if Antonio Margarito can get back on television — in a headline, PPV fight, no less — then I would suspect Angulo will be able to do the same.

If HBO indeed refuses to work with Angulo, their rationale can be considered little better than a joke. The political climate around undocumented immigration is too polarized and “heated,” but it’s not too much to invite back a man who at least once, likely more often, entered the ring wearing loaded wraps? At least in terms of boxing legality, one of these offenses far outweighs the other. Since when did America’s political throes effect the viewing tendencies of boxing fans? If the experience of Mike Tyson is any indication, the boxing public will gladly welcome Angulo back into the limelight — if not on HBO, then certainly on Showtime or ESPN.

What’s more worrisome is Bob Arum’s reaction. His incredibly hostile reaction to the news, as reported in Marley’s article, indicates another ludicrous element of this story vis-a-vis Margarito. Arum is willing to stand behind a known cheater of the most nefarious ilk, but believes no one will touch an “illegal” immigrant. Granted, it’s apples and oranges — Top Rank doesn’t promote Angulo. This may still go south (no pun intended) promotionally for Angulo, given that Gary Shaw is already unhappy with him for his refusal to accept a $750,000 deal to fight middleweight champ Sergio Martinez. If it’s true that Shaw was left in the dark as to Angulo’s movements, and if the legal battle turns out to be unexpectedly difficult, this episode may provide an opportunity to dump him from his promotional lineup. I would bet against such a development.

I’m not naive. I know promoters lie and cheat and are hypocritical, but Arum’s unfailing commitment to a universally reprehensible character like Margarito and his conversely expressed concern for public sentiment in the case of a universally appreciated all-action fighter like Angulo is still unsettling, if not all-together sickening. Let’s hope Shaw doesn’t see things that way.

Considering the legal tussle Top Rank is now in with Golden Boy Promotions, maybe other promoters (such as Shaw) are wary about partaking in any protracted legal proceedings, and more so, about further undermining boxing’s suffering credibility. But regardless of Marley’s strong assertions, “El Perro” will be back, with or without HBO.

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