By Jake Donovan
Alfredo Angulo and Ignacio “Nacho” Beristain have known each other for more than a decade, but their most recent boxing union have come by chance.
Beristain, the Hall of Fame trainer based out of Mexico, was spotted in Angulo’s corner for his comeback fight this past August. Angulo was returning to the ring for the first time in more than a year, when immigration issues in the United States kept him out of the ring and off of American airwaves, before deciding to begin the rebuilding process in his native Mexico.
A game plan for the fight with Joseph Gomez was already set (though not necessarily implemented in a non-competitive fight that barely went 90 seconds), but Beristain was invited to join him as a corner assistant on fight night. The top shelf trainer willingly obliged while longtime trainer Clemente Medina served as lead.
Beristain will enjoy a far greater presence in the fighter’s corner this time around, having led his camp for his fight with James Kirkland this weekend in Cancun.
Before too much is read into the union, Angulo (20-1, 17KO) explains how the hookup came about.
“At the time I needed Clemente to train me for this fight, he wasn’t available,” Angulo reveals. “We’ve been together for six years, but for whatever reason he decided to train other fighters when I needed him for this fight, so I went with Nacho.”
The move can turn out to be a blessing in disguise. Aside from being known as one of the most brilliant minds in the history of the sport, Beristain’s students are often viewed as being the definition of classic boxer-punchers. Juan Manuel Marquez and Ricardo Lopez best fit this mold, as well as Rafael Marquez to a degree.
Nobody is expecting a miracle to come out of Angulo’s camp, and for the Mexican brawler to suddenly transform into a calculated boxer. What he is gaining from the experience of having Beristain run this camp, however, is the enjoyment of working with a genius after years of just being friends with one.
“Nacho is a great trainer, he’s terrific,” Angulo insists of his old friend. “The thing about his teachings, he’s not trying to change me at all, just enhance my strengths. You can’t change someone overnight, but I feel very comfortable working with Nacho.”
The transition serves as a sigh of relief, as he heads into perhaps the biggest fight of his career to date. Nobody needs to be at anything less than their absolute best when going up against a murderous puncher like Kirkland.
Given their styles, few are expecting the fight to last very long as a knockout has been the most common prediction, even if most remain split on whom will be on the delivering end. Angulo, whose last two fights have ended inside the opening round, would love nothing more than to send his fans home early and happy but is also prepared for the possibility of a long, grueling war.
“I’ve had great preparation and am having a great time working with Nacho for this fight. Nacho is the type of person who likes to push his fighters and I like to work hard, so the two go hand-in-hand. I don’t know if (the fight with Kirkland) will go 12 or end early but I’m prepared for 12 rounds.”
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com. Follow Jake on Twitter at twitter.com/JakeNDaBox or submit questions/comments to [email protected].