Harold Lederman on Angulo vs. Kirkland

By Robert Ecksel on November 4, 2011
Harold Lederman on Angulo vs. Kirkland
“Look, everyone wants to see excitement," said Lederman. "Angulo provides excitement.”

“This weekend is a doubleheader that I’ve been looking forward to about as much as any doubleheader that I ever looked forward to in my 26 years at HBO…”

Saturday night at the Centro de Cancun, in Cancun, Quintana Roo, Mexico, the extremely tough Alfredo Angulo (20-1, 17 KOs) gets it on with the equally tough James Kirkland (29-1, 26 KOs) in a fight broadcast live on HBO Boxing After Dark.

This bout has been talked about and looked forward to for years. Although there’s no gaudy belt or title at stake, pride is in the offing, and both Angulo and Kirkland feel as though they have something to prove, and would like nothing better than to prove it at the other’s expense.

I was hoping for an opinion more expert than my own to give a little breadth to my commentary, and it was just my dumb luck to run into Harold Lederman at the Lucky Seven Tapas Bar in the Washington Heights section of New York. The occasion was a press conference to announce the return of Joan Guzman, but lunch was also served, which has proven as good a reason as any for Lederman to put in an appearance.

Because we were at a tapas bar, I put two and two together and came up three. The food was not the Zagat rated tapas I was hoping for. Instead of mouthwatering morsels of finger food, standard issue red beans and rice, a generic salad of iceberg lettuce with a few tomatoes and beets thrown in for good measure, and three types of meat, chicken, beef, and pork, all of which pretty much looked and tasted the same, constituted lunch. If that sounds unappetizing it was, which didn’t prevent HBO’s “unofficial ringside scorer” from digging in like there was no tomorrow.

For once I respected Lederman’s appetite and let him eat in peace. When he finished the main course, Lederman turned on the charm and was as gracious, enthusiastic, and accommodating as ever.

“I think this weekend is a doubleheader that I’ve been looking forward to about as much as any doubleheader that I ever looked forward to in my 26 years at HBO,” he said. “How’s that for a statement? I mean James Kirkland and Alfredo Angulo is a fight people have been talking about since time immemorial. Unfortunately Angulo has the problems getting into the United States, the problems with the INS, and Kirkland suffered a setback that we never thought would happen. But he was fighting a much taller guy who, you know, just dropped a right hand down on him that he never saw coming. But be that as it may, they’re finally meeting up.”

Lederman glanced at the buffet table to see if there was any dessert. Seeing none, he frowned slightly and went on.

“Look,” said Lederman, “let’s face reality. Everyone wants to see excitement. Angulo provides excitement. We all remember the Harry Joe Yorgey knockout, and all his other wins on HBO. James Kirkland, same thing—beats tough guys time after time after time. He’s back in his comfort zone with Ann Wolfe, training in Austin, Texas, with the UNUSUAL training methods: yanking trucks around and beating on punching bags that are on moving trucks, and all sorts of stuff that normal fighters don’t do. So here you’ve got two absolutely terrific punchers getting together in a fight that’s scheduled for 12 rounds, that may not go three rounds in most people’s estimation. How can you ask for more than that?”

Harold Lederman grinned. I wasn’t sure if it was because he was pleased with what he just said, or because three hot Latinas, courtesy Corona beer, just sashayed past him.

Lederman shook his head slightly and continued. “Then, we go to the first fight. When Craig McEwan started on HBO against Andy Lee, I’ll never forget. The fight was up at Foxwoods. I looked around and I said, ‘Guess what guys? There’s nobody here from Golden Boy, his promoter.’ I think Robert Diaz was there. No Richard Schaefer. No Oscar De La Hoya. No Eric Gomez. And I said to Craig, ‘Does it bother you that your promoter has basically abandoned you here?’ And he said, ‘Harold, not at all. Just watch Saturday night.’ And sure as the devil, Saturday night—I couldn’t believe what I was looking at! Craig McEwan was beating the hell out of Andy Lee, until finally in the ninth round he ran out of gas and in the 10th round Andy knocked him out. And Andy was behind on every single scorecard, including mine. After that fight I said to everyone who would listen to me, I said, ‘We gotta get this Scottish kid back on HBO, because he’s something special.’

“So we got Andy Lee back, he beat Brian Vera in his return to HBO, and Saturday night we’re bringing back Craig McEwan, just as I’ve been asking for. I think the kid is a terrific fighter. He’s real too. On the other hand, he’s taking on Peter Quillen. Now we know Peter Quillen because he was a Cedric Kushner fighter from New York, speaks fluent Spanish, went to the west coast, started training with the guy that everybody considers the best trainer in boxing, Freddie Roach, at the Wild Card. And certainly Peter has to be considered the best middleweight prospect in the world today. So how can you ask for a better doubleheader than this?”

Lederman looked at his watch and smiled at his wife, who returned his smile tenfold.

“It’s just a dynamite doubleheader with four guys who have virtually lost no fights. Angulo lost one when he was sick to Kermit Cintron. Kirkland lost one when he was hit by a freak of nature, a guy that was very, very tall. McEwan lost one, in a fight that he was winning. And that’s all the losses they have between them. So I can’t wait for Saturday night. I think Saturday night’s going to be one of the great nights in boxing. I’m really looking forward to this doubleheader.”

Follow us on Twitter@boxing_com to continue the discussion

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  1. mikecasey 11:44am, 11/05/2011

    Yes, fellas, this should be a cracker. We so need a GREAT fight right now.

  2. the thresher 09:43am, 11/05/2011

    Thankfully, Bute is on an hour earlier so maybe I can catch both. But I won’t be blinking.

  3. Don from Prov 08:50am, 11/05/2011

    I second the best wishes to Harold Lederman.  The fight?  Needs no comments: Just sit back and enjoy what should be Pure-D Hell.

  4. Bob Mladinich 07:47am, 11/05/2011

    It is a blessing that boxing has such enthusiastic supporters as Harold Lederman. I have bumped into Harold all over the country, at fights, press conferences, airports and restaurants. No matter what time of day, you always feel better after spending a few minutes with him. He has a very positive life force and is a truly wonderful man.  It is also so nice to see him always with his lovely wife. They seem to get along so well and revel in each other’s company. A great duo.

  5. the thresher 05:05am, 11/05/2011

    “This weekend is a doubleheader that I’ve been looking forward to about as much as any doubleheader that I ever looked forward to in my 26 years at HBO…”

    My sentiments exactly. Let’s get it on.

  6. the thresher 04:37am, 11/05/2011

    By the way, let’s all wish Harold a get well soon as he has come down with an issue.

    There is no sweeter man than Harold Lederman.

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