Guerrero and Angulo should exit stage left
By John J. Raspanti, DogHouse Boxing (September 1, 2016)
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Most fighters hate the "R" word.
To them, retiring is akin to quitting.
Boxers fight to survive and refuse to give up. They spend their best days in the ring. Out of it, many of them feel lost.
It’s all they know.
Passionate as a boxer's love affair with the ring can be, his career can be over in a flash. For most of us, it is hard to imagine being told to retire before reaching the age of forty..
Last Saturday night, I watched Robert “The Ghost” Guerrero and Alfredo “El Petro” Angulo do what they love.
Guerrero has captured two world titles within the span of his 15-year professional career. In his heyday, Guerrero, 33, was more a boxer-puncher, moving swiftly to avoid punches, hence the nickname “The Ghost.” His talent was without question as Guerrero moved up two weight classes in 2012 to challenge Andre Berto. The bout was a war from the opening bell. Both fighters took serious punishment, but it was Guerrero who came out on top. A year later he lost a one-sided decision to undefeated world champion Floyd Mayweather in Las Vegas, NV.
Angulo is a throwback fighter. Sixty years ago, he would have been fighting every month. Defense has never been a priority. He takes four blows to land one. His chin remains his greatest strength. His all-out brutality with James Kirkland in 2011 was talked about for months. Angulo lost, but his dignity remained. Angulo dropped heavily-favored Erislandy Lara twice two years later, only to be stopped himself.
Guerrero faced Yoshihiro Kamegai a year after losing to Mayweather. He landed punches at will, but also absorbed far too many. Last year he battled WBA welterweight champion Keith Thurman, losing the fight by decision. Guerrero had to climb off the canvas to edge Aron Martinez. Expected to be a tune-up, the fight turned into another slugfest. Guerrero rallied in the later rounds, but the bout still could have gone either way.
The victory earned him a shot against Danny Garcia. Guerrero did well in spurts, but came up short in the end.
In 2013, Canelo Alvarez used Angulo as a punching bag. I was there to witness the slaughter. In Round one, Alvarez dipped to his left to throw a left hook. When the punch landed, it sounded like a hammer hitting a melon. Angulo took the blow and many more. Boxing fans love his guts and heart. But that’s the problem. After 12 hard years in the ring, his reflexes, never very sharp to begin with, have dulled. He’s a plodder now. His punches are slow and easy to avoid. He lost another fight in 2014 and took some time off. Many hoped he would announce his retirement, but he fought on to win a couple of comeback fights against lessor competition.
Both men needed impressive victories Saturday night. Guerrero entered the ring a 75-1 favorite over one David Peralta. Peralta, a cab driver from Argentina, has won 25 of 27 bouts. A solid record, but nobody, probably not even Peralta, expected him to defeat Guerrero.
If the fight had been a three-rounder, Guerrero would have come out on top. He popped his jab and landed some hard shots to the body. Peralta started finding his chin with lead right hands in the middle of the fight. Guerrero fought back, but appeared to go down in Round nine from a combination of right hands--and his foot being stepped on.
Peralta won the fight by split decision. Guerrero complained about the outcome after the match, but even if he had won, the perception would have been the same. His peak years are gone.
In his heart of hearts, Guerrero likely knows he’s finished as a top fighter. Accepting reality is the hardest blow.
In the co-feature Saturday night, Angulo took on Freddy Hernandez--a boxer who had dropped six fights in a row earlier in his career. He’d also been inactive, and was moving up in weight. None of that mattered. He easily out-boxed Angulo—landing combinations and easily avoiding Angulo’s slower shots. Angulo had some success in Round five, but after ten rounds it was pretty obvious who had won. As the decision was announced, Angulo shook his head and smiled.
Angulo shouldn’t take any more head shots. But he probably wonders, "What do I do now?"
A final curtain call for both warriors would have been appropriate. But it won’t happen, not yet at least.
They’ll both fight again. That you can count on. The fighting spirt never dies, even when the body can no longer deliver.
Take a curtain call men, and exit stage left.
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