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Angulo vs. Gutierrez On Saturday

Alfredo AnguloBy Aaron Klein: Undefeated light middleweight prospect Alfredo Angulo (12-0, 9 KOs) makes his second appearance of the year this Saturday night when takes on Colombian Richard Gutierrez (24-1, 14 KOs) in a bout for the vacant WBO Inter-Continental light middleweight title at the Buffalo Bills Hotel, in Primm, Nevada. Also on the card is undefeated light middleweight contender James Kirkland a super featherweight phenom Yuriorkis Gamboa, so this will be a good chance for the young 25 year-old Angulo to show off his skills in comparisons to fellow light middleweight Kirkland.

Angulo represented Mexico in the 2004 Olympic Games, losing to Ireland’s Andy Lee. Since turning professional in January 2005, Angulo has strung together a high percentage of knockouts in that short time period, with four of him nine knockout victories coming in the 1st round. In his last two fights, Angulo has surprised many with 1st round knockouts over the tough veterans Archak TerMeliksetian and most recently Ricardo Cortes. Most people hadn’t expected Angulo to win so impressively over either fighter. More to the point, some fans felt that Angulo wouldn’t be able to get by TerMeliksetian at all period, let alone knock him out in the 1st round.

That’s not surprising that some people should feel this way, for at first glance, Angulo doesn’t look like much. His hand speed is rather poor to say the least, and his attacks are fairly predictable in that he tends to go straight at his opponents in a straight line. His footwork is poor and he’s not particularly good at cutting off the ring or moving from side to side. In other words, Angulo is somewhat of a plodder, fighting best against those fighters that make the mistake of coming right at him or choosing to stand in front of him. Even then, his punches look incredibly slow and it seems that it would be an easy thing for most of his opponents to block or duck under his wide hooks.

Indeed, some of the times Angulo does have his shots block, but when he does connect bad things happen to his opponents. With his lack of speed, it seems unexpected that he’d be able to score knockouts the way he does, but he doesn’t need speed because he has really heavy hands and he puts his body into his shots, getting the most leverage he can with every punch. In watching him fight, he looks a lot like a slower version of Antonio Margarito, except that Angulo clearly hits much harder than Margarito.

Angulo tends to get a lot of torque into his wide shots, which as I said, don’t seem that hard until he connects. The power seems to come from the last foot of travel time in which Angulo seems to drive through his opponents, getting a snapping action in the last few inches. When he lands his shots, you can hear a loud noise each time, as if he’s hitting a dead carcass. It’s not something that you hear often, that is, unless you’re watching a fighter with a great deal of power, like a David Haye, Samuel Peter or Wladimir Klitschko. Having seen all of the light middleweights in the division, I’d say that Angulo is the hardest puncher in the division, with James Kirkland coming the closest to him.

Angulo, however, is in a class all to himself as far as power goes, which is why it’s important that he learn how to move better in the ring. I don’t think he can do much to improve his hand speed, because that’s a product of fast twitch nerve fibers – you either have them or you don’t. Angulo’s defense is fairly good, though it’s still hard to tell how good it is because he’s fought mostly C-level fighters up to this point, and most of them have been dispatched early on. It is rather strange, I think, that Angulo is being put in against Gutierrez, 29, this early in Angulo’s career.

Gutierrez as only been beaten once, a close 12-round majority decision loss to top 10 welterweight contender Joshua Clottey two years ago in July 2006. However, Gutierrez has done next to nothing since then, beating three low quality opponents since that time. Gutierrez has seemed to have slowed down since that fight, almost as if he’s stopped moving forward and progressing. I still remember his fight with Clotty, and I, like many fans, felt that Gutierrez would quickly rebound from this loss and work his way into a title shot in a year or less. Instead, however, Gutierrez has stayed away from top opposition, wasting his time and his talent against low level fighters.

It’s good that he’s finally snapped out of his lethargy to take on Angulo. We’ll see how his time off from top opposition will effect his skills, because Gutierrez hasn’t looked good in his last couple of fights against Luciano Perez and Jose Verala. Though he beat both of them, he looked to be just doing enough to get the win, not trying hard to beat either of them in impressive fashion. Against Angulo, Gutierrez is going to be forced to work hard the entire fight, because if he slacks off against him for a second, Angulo will likely end matters very quickly.

This, no doubt, is going to be a real test for Angulo, for if he can stop a fighter as good as Gutierrez in the first six rounds of the fight, then it really suggests that Angulo has the makings of a future champion. I’m still not entirely sold on him, however, because I don’t know how he’ll do when faced with an opponent that doesn’t fold in the first few rounds. Angulo is powerful, but he looks pitifully slow, and he may have problems when fighting a boxer with good skills, one who will stay on the outside and box him. Gutierrez is more of a boxer puncher, but I expect him to try and slug it out with Angulo, which probably will be a mistake for Gutierrez in the end.

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