By Jake Donovan
It was quick. It was relatively painless. And judging by the look on even the winner’s face, it was an embarrassing ending to a highly anticipated event.
Free swinging junior middleweight contender Alfredo Angulo made his return to the ring after a 13-month hiatus, stopping Joseph Gomez midway through the opening round of their ESPN-Deportes televised main event, aired live from Nido Sport Center in Mexicali, B.C., Mexico.
It was no secret going in that Gomez was tailor-made for Angulo, who sought to shake off some much needed ring rust while still waiting out an immigration dilemma that has kept him from fighting stateside for more than a year. However, it was believed that the Mexican – who proudly represented his country in the 2004 Olympics – would at least go some rounds, having only fought three minutes in the past 16 months.
Instead, his long-awaited comeback bout ended the moment he landed a few meaningful punches.
Gomez never gave the impression that he intended to put up much of a fight, never the best strategy when facing a heavy-handed fighter like Angulo. The bout ended as soon as it began, with Angulo flooring Gomez after landing a three punch combination that began with a body shot and was punctuated by a left hook and right hand upstairs.
Referee Jose Cobian began counting but upon reaching eight sensed that Gomez wasn’t interested in sticking around much longer. Rather than making the New Mexico-based journeyman take additional punishment, the bout was waved off without another punch being thrown.
Angulo stood and watched from a neutral corner, a stoic look on his face as the ending was hardly worth celebrating.
The official time of the bout was 1:24 of the opening round.
Continuing from where he last left off – a first round knockout of Joachime Alcine last July – Angulo now has a grand total of 4 ½ minutes of boxing action under his belt over the course of the past 16 months. The stoppage marks his fifth straight win – all inside the distance – since losing to Kermit Cintron two years ago as he improves to 20-1 (17KO).
Gomez drops his third straight as he falls to 17-5-1 (8KO).
Even with the lack of sustained action, the evening still served its purpose. It marked Angulo’s first fight in more than a year and also his first since breaking from longtime promoter Gary Shaw.
The evening’s show was fought under the newly formed Perro Promotions banner, drawing more than 20,000 fans in Angulo’s birthtown of Mexicali and proved to be a huge financial success, if not an entertainment bust.
What the bout truly represents is a starting point. Facing immigration issues and a promotional dispute, Angulo was put on ice for more than a year.
Much of it was his own doing, as he stubbornly rejected a generous six-figure payday to face lineal middleweight champion Sergio Martinez last October, a move that proved to be the beginning of the end between fighter and the team that has stood faithfully by his side since turning pro in 2005.
The decision to reject the fight didn’t sit well with HBO, who kept the Mexican on its airwaves even after his poor showing against Cintron in their May 2009 bout. That they remained faithful to the all-action fighter wasn’t much of a surprise; that he was permitted to continue fighting on the network against the chosen competition raised plenty of eyebrows, however.
It was for that reason that it came as a surprise when he expressed displeasure over a career that appeared to be brilliantly moved along considering his in-ring limitations as well as immigrations troubling enough to where he was forced to drive cross-country rather than run the risk of flying and being busted upon check-in.
Once his relationship with Shaw reached the point of no return, his contract was sold to Golden Boy Promotions. The move surprised next to nobody, and in fact elicited spirited conversation regarding his immediate future.
Among the dream possibilities that have been discussed include mouthwatering showdowns with fellow free-swinging contender James Kirkland and undefeated junior middleweight titlist Saul Alvarez.
Either bout would prove to be box office gold, though the latter appears to be the more realistic – and financially sound – of the two. Considering Angulo’s travel situation, a fight with Alvarez would be that much easier to make and would prove to be an epic event in their native Mexico.
In order to get there, Angulo will have to endure an elimination bout against fellow unbeaten contender Vanes Martirosyan. Both sides are interested in making such a fight happen, even though both would prefer their own individual shots at Alvarez, one of the hottest commodities in the sport today.
With the right moves and new alliance with Golden Boy Promotions, Angulo can perhaps reach a similar marketing point. Hopefully the opponents brought along for the ride will be more willing to force him to earn his money.
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com. Follow Jake on Twitter at twitter.com/JakeNDaBox or submit questions/comments to [email protected]