The tale begins in early August of 2010. Angulo, fresh off a win on HBO over Joachim Alcine, has long erased the memory of his May 2009 defeat at the hands of Kermit Cintron in Hollywood, Florida with a four-fight winning streak. What was a thought of as a disastrous loss that cost him a shot at then-WBC junior middleweight titleholder Sergio Martinez had just 14 months later earned him a shot at Martinez, who is now the lineal middleweight champion.
On August 12, 2010, Maxboxing.com’s Steve Kim, in a story entitled Shaw Says He Has a Lost “Perro”, reported, as told to him by Shaw, that Angulo had turned down $750,000 to fight Martinez the day before, which just happened to be Angulo’s 28th birthday. In the deal, according to Shaw and later corroborated by his attorney Leon Margules (who is also the promoter of record for Warriors Boxing), Angulo was guaranteed another fight on HBO, win or lose. In addition, the WBC would keep him in his number one contender spot at 154, in the event of defeat. In the story, Shaw claimed had turned down the 750K and asked instead for a million-dollar payday.
"I don’t believe in offering something and then that being negotiated up because all it means is that I’m screwing fighters out of the money,” Shaw told Kim. “For instance, why offer $500,000 if I can really pay $750,000? Because if I’m the fighter’s management, I’ll say, ’Well, if you had 750, why didn’t you just offer it?’ People do business differently. I try not to negotiate; I try to give the fighter as much as I can possibly give him."
Shaw went on to say that he called Angulo on his birthday and that Angulo did not answer or return his calls.
"Today is his birthday and I’ve been calling him and he isn’t returning my calls," Shaw told Kim. "I’m not sure what I’ve done wrong but obviously he’s not a happy dog right now."
As told to me this morning by a source familiar with the negotiation such as it was, the answer to Shaw’s uncertainty may lie in Shaw’s version of the story. According to this source, Shaw made the offer through Mike Criscio, Angulo’s manager at the time. The initial offer was given to Angulo, who said it sounded good but wondered if perhaps the fight was of the million-dollar variety. This was pivotal, considering the risk involved for a fighter already with one loss facing Martinez, who had just shellacked Kelly Pavlik to lift the middleweight title.
Criscio went back to Shaw, who was said to have stated quite angrily that 750K was all that available of the $900,000 purse being offered to Angulo. The rest would be a promoter’s fee. Angulo’s end would take a 33% bite from Criscio per their management agreement.
Criscio went back to Angulo and gave him Shaw’s reply. Angulo then countered with an offer of anything between 750K and 900K. Even 850K was acceptable, a figure later given to Sergiy Dzinziruk to fight Martinez just this year. Dzinziruk, unlike Angulo (who had had been on HBO many times), was making his HBO and middleweight debut that night.
Criscio went back to Shaw, who declared- according to this source- “The fight is off!”
From this point forward, Angulo and Shaw ceased all communication. No more counter offers. No more visits to Shaw’s home. Gone was the relationship Shaw would describe to me this week as like a father and son.
Soon after, other media outlets would pick up the story, including Examiner.com’s Michael Marley, who would get this quote from Shaw regarding the back-and-forth with Angulo (in his story If “Perro” Alfredo Angulo Slips Collar, Big Dog Gary Shaw Will Sue):
“I told Alfredo maybe we could [deal for] more, maybe $800,000 or even $850,000, but first, he demanded $1 million and then said he would agree to $900,000. But the money just wasn’t there,” Shaw told Marley in his August 16, 2010 story, which also mentioned rumors of Angulo being courted by Golden Boy Promotions. This rumor would persist through the following January.
On September 21, 2010, Marley would print the same story with two different headlines on two separate websites. On Boxingscene.com, it would called Alfredo Angulo’s US Career Crumbles; HBO Walks. On Examiner.com the title was Exclusive: Alfredo "Perro" Angulo’s Illegal Status Ends Career in America. In the article, Marley wrote, “I learned through several sources, including Top Rank promoter Bob Arum, that HBO’s legal department has advised Angulo promoter Big Gary Shaw that because the action fighter is in America illegally, the prime cable network will not use him on its airwaves.”
In the article, Top Rank promoter Bob Arum (Shaw nor Criscio could be reached for comment on the article, according to Marley) told Marley, "Nobody is going to touch this guy. Nobody is interested now because of the huge legal problem. He picked the wrong time to be an illegal immigrant in our country; that’s for sure."
The article’s anonymous sources, one “a veteran boxing man” claimed that Angulo had illegally come to the United States once before “and then brazenly snuck back into the U.S."
Other sources began to run with the story without checking with Angulo or his new legal team to see how true any of it was. Reports came out both on websites and message boards that Angulo was now banned from HBO airwaves.
On Monday, an HBO spokesperson refuted that claim, stating, “When we were made aware in this case that Alfredo did not have a work permit, in effect, we sent a letter that asked that the issue be cleared up. It could be no issue. Or ‘Well, make sure it doesn’t happen again.’”
The spokesperson went on to tell me this letter was neither a warning or a threat. “There is no ‘banned’ list or ‘He is barred from HBO.’”
At the time, however unfortunate for Angulo’s reputation, the story was poorly researched and while some stories had multiple sources cited- both on the record and off- none had Angulo or his new legal team’s side of things. In his silence, the rumors and innuendo became the official story. In the eyes of the media and the boxing fans who scour over every word they write, Angulo was now simply an illegal alien who had snuck back into the US after being deported once before. What’s more, as the story went, Angulo was being deported once again and now banned from appearing on HBO.
With Angulo in Mexico, away from the US media, his silence at first was deafening, then it became part of the scenery as the boxing world moved on without him.
It would not be until May 10, 2011, when Scott Hale of Halestormsports.com interviewed Angulo, that he would get a chance to go on record with the US media and set his record straight. The months of hearing the rumors had piled up on Angulo and he was ready to talk. A month later, he would tell me his side of things as well.
“Well, first of all, I have never been deported,” Angulo told me when I asked of his recent deportation rumors. I was unaware of his 2006 issue until after this interview and therefore did not ask him about it in our one conversation for this article. “Gary is the petitioner of my visa and when the difficulties started between Gary and I, I asked Ronzio, who is the attorney from the law firm, for my documentation. He said he needed to ask Gary for permission to give me the ruling on my papers because his client was Gary. I did not know how serious the situation was.”
Angulo would seek the help of Michael Miller to handle his boxing and business dealings, who in turn hired immigration attorney Kelly O’Neill. It was O’Neill who quickly assessed the dire situation Angulo was in and recommended Angulo leave for Mexico immediately.
“When I sought assistance on my own, I sought other lawyers to ask for ruling and all that, things got a bit complicated,” Angulo explained. “My lawyers told me I had to leave [the country] because they were doing things wrong, that I had to be out, that Gary Shaw and his lawyers were not doing things correctly. That is why I made the decision to leave the United States.”
Within 48 hours of that assessment, not a week after Angulo had sat ringside at the September 18, 2010 fight between Shane Mosley and Sergio Mora in Los Angeles’ Staples Center, Angulo returned to his mother’s home in Mexicali, leaving behind his five-year-old daughter and her mother, who is a US citizen, behind.
Angulo had had a P-1 Visa issued to him on December 3, 2007, that extended to March 22, 2010. The Visa’s petitioner (in other words, the man legally vouching for Angulo’s time and conduct in the US) was Gary Shaw. The paperwork was handled by Frank Ronzio, an immigration lawyer widely used and respected throughout the boxing community.
Just exactly how and why did a rising boxer’s visa expire is a matter of debate.
“I don’t know. I think it fell through the cracks,” Miller told me. “I don’t think Gary did it on purpose. It wouldn’t make sense that Gary did it on purpose. I just think that somebody fell asleep at the wheel and let it expire. I mean, Angulo probably should have been aware but he is probably not reading the minute details of his paperwork. He is just a fighter and Gary being the petitioner had probably not been a petitioner before and didn’t realize the duties that come with being a petitioner and signing on the dotted line that you are going to sponsor the kid when he is here. Part of that is making sure that the kid returns [To Mexico] before the visa expired to renew it. It didn’t happen. So from what [O’Reilly says] a major part of Angulo’s problem is he has overstayed his visa. So you know, that is where we are. We are trying to fix it.”
When asked about why the visa was allowed to expire, Margules explained that everything would have been fine if not for the sudden reemergence of this 2006 immigration issue.
“Gary got him [the original P-1 Visa],” explained Margules, “and then he went to get him an extension and that was granted but they never got it issued because they couldn’t because they found out about this thing that he had done before Gary was his promoter.”
Margules asserted that the responsibility to get a renewal does not necessarily fall all on the petitioner of the visa, Gary Shaw. Angulo shares some blame for not understanding his paperwork.
“When did it become the obligation of the promoter to get a guy a visa?” Margules asked me. “And it was granted. Ranzio got him a visa but then they wouldn’t issue it because they found out about his conviction.”
However, Angulo told me that he was discouraged from worrying about legal paperwork. His job was to train and fight. Everything was to be seen to by his promoter, manager, and lawyer.
“I wouldn’t know what to tell you because I had my document where my P-1 Visa was approved and I was told not to worry about any of that,” Angulo told me. “Ronzio, the lawyers, they all told me to worry only about fighting, that they would take care of all of that but I have a document where my visa petition was made and where it is approved. That is why I never…I did not know that I had a problem.”
Shaw and Margules explained to me that Ronzio was hired to see to the renewal around the time the letter from HBO about Angulo’s status was received. However, Ronzio, according to Shaw and Margules, was unable to get a renewal for Angulo due to the prior deportation cited by Marley’s anonymous source.
“There was a visa. The visa was in effect. When the visa was running out, Gary applied to get him a new visa,” Margules explained to me. “The visa was granted. Frank Ronzio was [Angulo’s] lawyer. [The visa] was granted but then it was never issued because the government found out about the conviction. In other words, [the Department of Immigration and Naturalization Services] found out that they shouldn’t have granted it because of the fact of this conviction. In other words, for some reason, the conviction fell under the radar during the first visa period.”
The “conviction” Margules refers to is an April 24, 2006 “Notice to Appear” before an immigration judge issued to Angulo by the INS for being in the US illegally.
“Alleged” is an important point of legal distinction. Immigration law is considered a civil matter not criminal. However, there are criminal and civil violations of immigration law. Civil violations can include illegal presence and failure to depart after an expired visa, although the government has to prove that the subject “willfully” failed to depart after their visa expired. A criminal violation might include illegal entry, re-entry after deportation and failure to depart after an order of removal. If the person is unaware that an order of removal has been issued for him, the offense can be deemed a civil violation.
The documents in question, parts of which were obtained by Maxboxing.com, alleged four things:
1) Angulo was not a citizen of the United States of America.
2) Angulo is a native of Mexico and a citizen of Mexico.
3) Angulo arrived on or around April 23, 2006 in the US
4) That “on or around April 23, 2006, you knowingly encouraged, induced, assisted, abetted, or aided” six aliens to enter or try to enter The United States.”
The other document, which Margules referred to as a “conviction” [Writer’s note: it is fair to note that Mr. Margules is not an immigration lawyer and has not been retained by Shaw or anyone else for this service. That was Mr. Ronzio’s job. As such, Mr. Margules may unknowingly be using the wrong term of law in this case], which is labeled as a “Warning to Alien Ordered Removed or Deported,” states: “In accordance with the provisions of section 212 (a) (9)of the Immigration and Nationality Act, you are prohibited from entering, attempting to enter, or being in the United States:”
And here, the box “For a period of ten years from the date of your departure from the United States because you have been found, another box checked here, “deportable under section 237 of the Act and ordered removed from the United States by an immigration judge in proceedings under section 240 of the Act.
Section 212 (a) (9) of the Immigration and Nationality Act:
Section 212(a)(9) of the Immigration and Nationality Act renders certain aliens inadmissible based on prior violations of U.S. immigration law. Section 212(a)(9) of the Act has three major subsections.
Under section 212(a)(9)(A) of the Act, an alien, who was deported, excluded or removed under any provision of law, is inadmissible if the alien seeks admission to the United States during the period specified in section 212(a)(9)(A) of the Act, unless the alien obtains consent to reapply for admission during this period.
Under section 212(a)(9)(B) of the Act, an alien is inadmissible if the alien has accrued a specified period of unlawful presence, leaves the United States after accruing the unlawful presence, and then seeks admission during the period specified in (either 3 years or 10 years after the departure, depending on the section 212(a)(9)(B)(i) duration of the accrued unlawful presence).
Under section 212(a)(9)(C)(i) of the Act, an alien is inadmissible if the alien enters or attempts to enter the United States without admission after having been removed or after having accrued more than one year (in the aggregate) of unlawful presence.”
Section 237 of the Act has many possible violations an alien can be deported ranging from a health risk, to a criminal past, to criminal conduct committed while in the US illegally, as well as the charge of Alien Smuggling.
The Order of Removal issued to Angulo in 2006 does not specify which offense he was being deported for. That he was illegally in the US in the first place was enough for him to be deported. What’s more, as Angulo’s attorneys Mike Miller and newly-appointed immigration attorney Kelly O’Neill pointed out to me this week, had Angulo been found guilty of alien smuggling, especially for any sort of profit, he would have faced criminal charges. Had he been found guilty, would have served up to five years in a federal penitentiary while his civil immigration case was put on hold. After his release, he would have ultimately been deported.
As Angulo put it, “I think that if I was helping other people to cross illegally, I think I would still be under arrest.”
Angulo was immediately deported to Mexico. In the next year, the former Mexican Olympic team boxer who was not with a US promoter would sign with Gary Shaw, who in turn, through the legal expertise of Ronzio, secure the P-1 status work Visa for Angulo issued on December 3, 2007 and valid through March 22, 2010. According to the US Immigration website, A P-1 entertainment visa “is a nonimmigrant visa which allows foreign nationals who are athletes, artists and entertainers to enter into the US for a specific event, competition or performance” given to “internationally recognized artists, entertainers, or athletes [so that they] may enter into the US to participate in a performance for a US employer or an international employer working through a US agent. The performance must require a performer of international quality.”
So how did a “convicted” alien smuggler (Shaw and Margules claim) get a P-1 visa a mere eight months later with no one, including the veteran immigration attorney Ronzio, knowing about his past violation? If Angulo’s deportation did in fact come from that particular violation, it is hard to believe in the post-9/11 age that such a high profile athlete’s transgression would so easily fall through the cracks? Common sense says that he was in fact deported for simply being illegally in the US and when it was time to get the P-1 Visa, the allegation was simply a non-issue.
O’Neill, who is now handling Angulo’s current visa case, would tell me this week that had this ‘06 deportation been an issue serious enough to come back and cause all these alleged problems, he would not be wasting Angulo’s time or money.
“If he was guilty of alien smuggling, we wouldn’t have taken the case,” said O’Neill. “I wouldn’t take the job.”
On September 24, 2010, Mike Marley ran a story on Examiner.com that claimed Criscio was now attempting to rectify Angulo’s visa issue. Shaw and Margules would tell me they hired Ronzio, with Shaw footing the legal bills, to hold an emergency session with Angulo to fix his legal status.
However, a hotter story would emerge from Shaw on September 30, 2010, in a Boxingscene.com interview conducted by Ryan Burton, entitled Gary Shaw Claims Top Rank Ratted Angulo Out. In it, Gary Shaw claimed “Arum dropped the dime on ‘Perro.’ That was a sh**ty move by them.”
Shaw opined that “Arum dropped a dime on Angulo to protect [Miguel] Cotto 100%, as HBO asked Bob to have Cotto fight ‘Perro.’ They would have continued to pressure Bob into making that fight.”
While the article is not clear whether Shaw is alleging that Top Rank or Arum called the INS or HBO about Angulo’s legal status, Shaw would reiterate his point in a live radio interview I conducted three weeks ago. He would also alter the details of his story, citing a different fighter HBO was pressuring Arum to match with Angulo.
When guesting on the radio show Leave-it-in-the-ring.com, Shaw told me and my co-host David Duenez “Top Rank turned [Angulo] in, not Gary Shaw. Top Rank turned him because [HBO] were trying to force [Julio Cesar] Chavez [Jr.] and Angulo. I am telling you 1000% that Top Rank called HBO.”
Angulo believes differently.
“Yes, yes, I did hear,” Angulo told me. “I heard about it but I want Gary to say how he believes that Bob Arum knew. Presumably, the only people that knew about that were [Gary] himself, my manager, and [Ronzio] that was taking care of things; and when it is a matter among lawyers, it is confidential. They cannot, they do not have the right nor the power to disclose those types of things.”
It should be noted that Ronzio, though he is no longer Angulo’s immigration attorney, declined to comment for this article, in regard to Angulo’s legal status and 2006 case citing the attorney/client privilege.
Angulo also cited a more personal reason why he believes Bob Arum did not turn him into the authorities or HBO.
“Another, very important thing is that I think when all this happened, unfortunately, Bob Arum suffered a very big loss, which is the loss of a son,” said Angulo, referencing the disappearance and tragic death of Arum’s eldest son, John, whose body was found on September 3, 2010 following a mountaineering accident in the North Cascades National Park outside of Seattle, WA. “So I do not think he was going to be paying attention to which fighter had or did not have a legal status. What he cared about was to search for his son and find him; hence, I don’t think he would worry about those things when he had a problem as big as not finding a missing son.”
When asked about the rumor that Bob Arum “dropped dime on ‘Perro,’” the HBO spokesperson informed me that my question was the first they had heard about the rumor. To their knowledge, no one had said as much at the HBO offices, though they did concede if that was a confidential call, perhaps the info was not privy to just anyone.
Regardless of who told who or what, as of March 22, 2010, Alfredo Angulo’s visa had expired. While he would not leave the country until late September to begin his legal fight to return to the US, what happened from the time his visa expired to the time he left is another interesting question.
How is it that Angulo, with an expired visa, fought two more times on HBO? And is it proof that Angulo was truly in the dark about his legal status? Angulo explained to me that around the time of the Joel Julio fight in April 2010, he began to worry about his visa status and asked Shaw and Criscio for a status update. According to Angulo, his request was rebuffed.
“When we fought Joel Julio was when I started to pressure them because time was passing by and I wanted to know what was happening,” said Angulo. “I normally do not know about those things; my lawyers are the ones who know but I started to worry some. I just continued to receive the same response: to not worry, to continue fighting and to worry only about training, being well for the fights, and that they would take care of that, to not worry. But that’s when I looked for another lawyer and my lawyer asked them to give him the papers. They took almost two months to give him the papers and [only then could] my lawyer realize everything that was happening.
Now either Angulo is playing the ignorant foreigner or he is incredibly bold and calculating. It’s one thing to sneak into the US under cover of night and hide out in doing off-the-beaten-path cheap labor like many illegal immigrants. It is quite another to remain in the US illegally and fight not once but twice live on HBO where the whole world can see you.
How could that happen?
“I don’t know,” answered Margules. “How does anything? How does the IRS show up sometimes and not all the time?”
When asked if he thought HBO knew about his expired visa but chose to ignore it, Angulo answered, “No, first of all, I thank HBO and I know that…I don’t think HBO knew beforehand because not even I knew. On the contrary, I think that both HBO and I were deceived; one can say it that way. HBO perhaps does not take too much care because it is the promoter who should be in the know. It is the promoter’s work [to make sure] that any fighter who fights, be it on TV or not on TV, is in the United States legally. So I think HBO did not know.”
The same HBO spokesperson told me that “HBO contracts with promoters to buy fights. The network assumes that the fighters have visas, licenses to perform, etc. Like a fighter makes weight, the promoters needs to have the licenses and permits. How could you bring us a fighter that isn’t licensed to fight?”
The way HBO sees it, the fighter is the employee of the promoter, a subcontractor of sorts. The network cuts a check to the promoter and the promoter gives the fighter his cut. His legal status, license to fight, and payment responsibilities fall to the promoter, not the network.
With his relationship with Shaw fragmented following the Martinez negotiation, I asked Angulo if he felt his visa situation was leaked to HBO and the media out of animosity from Shaw or some other member of his team. After all, Angulo’s visa had expired the previous March, yet the news broke two months after his second visa-less HBO fight.
“Well, that I will leave it to each person’s own criteria,” said Angulo. “I think it is something pretty noticeable. The fact that we did not reach an agreement on the fight with Martinez and I created a lot of conflict and I do not understand it. Sincerely, up until now, I just can’t understand why the anger was so much or Gary’s annoyance.”
For his part, Shaw told me loved and treated Angulo like a son during their time together. After one fight, Shaw kissed Angulo on the lips. He bought him a several thousand-dollar, diamond-encrusted necklace. Angulo would stay at Gary’s house and was present at Shaw’s father’s funeral prior to the Joel Julio fight, by Shaw’s account. Angulo even bore Shaw’s father’s name on his trunks for the Julio fight.
“Above my desk,” explained an emotional Shaw, “I have a picture of me, my wife, my son, and ‘Perro.’ I tell you what; I am having a lot of trouble taking it down.”
Shaw still seems baffled by ‘Perro’s’ silence. He does not understand why his fighter will not talk to him. On Angulo’s side, after looking at the press quotes, it is not hard to understand.
“There was never an official negotiation for a fight,” Angulo told Scott Hale back in May on Halestormsports.com. “I got one phone call. The next thing I knew, boxing news articles were quoting my business representatives, who were calling me “greedy” for not taking the money. It is not just about the money. Can you imagine Kobe Bryant’s agent speaking to the media badly about him?”
Angulo also denied a rumor that Mike Criscio was the one who turned him into immigration authorities after an angry encounter at a restaurant after the Alcine fight.
“No, he does not work with me anymore,” said Angulo. “Mike Criscio does not work with me; but no, after the Alcine fight, I went to my room to rest and did not see Mike Criscio. I did not see him again.”
As noted, Criscio is no longer Angulo’s manager and Mike Miller is not currently acting in that capacity.
Another rumor Angulo addressed was a story that, depending on who tells it, is just a little different each time. Before his fight with Kermit Cintron in May 2009, Angulo was set to go to Florida on a plane, according to Gary Shaw. Angulo instead drove to Florida with members of his team and subsequently took ill. Some blame it for his loss to Cintron.
“Mike [Criscio] and I said we would get him a camper, a sleeper,” Shaw told me in a conversation this week, which included Margules. “[Angulo] said he was going to fly. He got to the airport; we didn’t know this and he got caught. For whatever reason, the people at the airport who had him detained decided to let him go. He talked his way out of this and he went and rented a car. That is how he got there and when he went [to Florida], he got lost and wound up back in California and got [back to Florida] hours before the weigh-in.”
Angulo tells it differently.
“I have a very large team and I wanted all my team to be with me in this fight,” said Angulo. “Gary asked me to depart three weeks before the fight. I consulted it with my trainer, who told me it was impossible to leave like that because I could not stop boxing [and training]. We departed a week before [the fight], driving. Unfortunately, something I ate on the way didn’t suit me well; that’s why I wasn’t at 100% in the fight. If my visa had expired, I don’t know. It wasn’t until year 2010 that I started to pressure, asking what was happening with my things and why I was not being told anything. That was all. I was not at 100% and unfortunately, what happened happened but it is all about falling, getting up and keep going.”
If Angulo’s visa was still valid until March of the following year, why would he be worried at all about flying?
“So what I am telling you is that they were looking for him even when he had a valid visa,” said Margules. “He couldn’t get on an airplane.”
In his account of the story, Angulo never mentioned flying or having a ticket paid for him by Shaw at the airport, much less magically escaping the authorities who detained him. I asked Angulo why the plan would be for him to drive instead of fly. Was it convenience or frugality on Shaw’s part? “I think that everybody, most people know Gary and that he likes to save a bit,” answered Angulo.
It is hard to say who to believe here. Did Shaw know his visa expired? Who turned Angulo in to HBO? Did Angulo and his promotional and management team at the time knowingly keep him fighting in the US with an expired visa? These are all near-impossible questions to answer without more data.
What happens next and where Angulo goes from here will be answered in Part Two.
You can email Gabriel at email@example.com, follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/gabriel_montoya and catch him on each Monday’s episode of “The Next Round” with Steve Kim. You can also tune in to hear him and co-host David Duenez live on the BlogTalk radio show Leave-It-In-The-Ring.com, Thursdays at 5-8 PM PST. Gabriel is a full member of the Boxing Writers Association of America.