Alfredo Angulo wasn't supposed to be here. Harry Joe Yorgey wasn't either.
Angulo, the 27-year old brawler from Mexicali, was being set up to make a fast move to world title status by promoter Gary Shaw. In "El Perro," Shaw saw the exact type of fighter that embodies the famed Mexican warrior spirit. Angulo doesn't take a backwards step, doesn't seem fazed by any pressure, and hasn't even had any great reaction to the first loss of his career.
That loss came in May, when he faced former welterweight titlist Kermit Cintron. The powerful Puerto Rican was seen as the underdog despite his edge in big-fight experience and his massive power, in part because we'd seen Cintron crumble against Antonio Margarito on two occasions, and Margarito (pre-wraps controversy) was always the fighter Angulo was most compared to. His toughness, his exhausting power, his constant forward motion -- Angulo had all of that.
But Cintron and trainer Ronnie Shields saw a flaw: Angulo couldn't box, didn't move around the ring very well, and thus they outboxed him all night long. Truthfully, the fight was closer than it's made out to be, but Cintron's win was legitimate, and it was the best performance of Kermit's career, just when he needed it most.
Angulo (16-1, 13 KO) didn't let it get him down. He returned against tough trial horse Gabriel Rosado in August, and knocked out the Philly battler in the second round. And instead of looking for something easy, he's lined up another tough cat out of Pennsylvania.
Harry Joe Yorgey (22-0-1, 10 KO) is nothing special, and I say that in a nice way. He doesn't have great speed or power, there's really nothing above-average about his game at all. Yorgey is coming off of a March upset of Ronald Hearns, taking Hitman Jr.'s "0" with a stunning ninth round knockout on Showtime. For Hearns it was a step up, but Ronald was still the heavy favorite.
Yorgey is 31 and has four children. He quit his construction job to become a full-time fighter, to try and make something of himself in one of the hardest professions you can go into. Jason LeHoullier was in his way last August. Hearns was in his way this past March. Now Angulo is in his way.
If you're looking for a great exhibition of pure boxing skill, this won't be the fight for you. Angulo and Yorgey are going to go toe-to-toe, and eventually, someone's going to break. Yorgey says he'll try to outbox Angulo, but I don't think that'll wind up working. Yorgey (now trained by Jack Loew) also believes his power will surprise Angulo, but "Perro" isn't worried about it.
But one thing I want to say is this: A good loss (you know what I mean by that, I'm sure) isn't the end of the world for either of them, so don't take it that way. Yes, they both would benefit greatly from the win -- focus on that. This fight, for both Angulo and Yorgey, is about who takes that step forward into a possible world title shot, not about who takes the step back. Something has to give between these two.
Prediction: And as far as that goes, I've got to go with Angulo. I think Yorgey's a great story and a heck of a tough fighter, and I don't think Alfredo's going to have an easy night by any stretch of the imagination. But I see Angulo, focused and improved, busting Yorgey up and stopping him in eight or nine rounds. Angulo steamrolled Rosado in August, and looked ferocious in doing so. Yorgey's skills are not massively better than Rosado's if they're really any better at all. But I don't think this will be the last we hear of either man, win or lose.