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World Boxing Federation Champions Of The Past: Angel Manfredy

Posted on April 11 2014
By: Clive Baum 
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Since the World Boxing Federation was originally founded by American Larry Carrier in 1988, many of the sport’s biggest names have won a WBF title, and proudly defended the blue, red and gold belt all over the world.

In the first three segments of the series we profiled former two-weight WBF World Champion Johnny Nelson, one of the best Cruiserweights of all time, former WBF World Welterweight Champion and Hall-Of-Famer Greg Haugen, and former World Super Flyweight Champion Samson Dutch Boy Gym.

This time we will take a look at heavily tatood, big-punching, crowd-pleasing and colorful former WBF Intercontinental Super Featherweight ruler Angel “El Diablo” Manfredy.


October 30 1974 stands out in boxing history as the date of the legendary Muhammad Ali vs. George Foreman “Rumble In The Jungle” in Kinshasa, Zaire, but on that same day a future fighter was born in Gary, Indiana, USA.

The youngest of four siblings of Puerto Rican heritage, Angel Manfredy never reached the same heights as Ali and Foreman, but his career was not short of big moments.

Young Angel grew up in the Indiana Harbor neighborhood of East Chicago, Indiana. Fighting was part of everyday life, and his introduction to boxing is not unheard of. When he beat up an older boy in an arranged street fight at age 9, his father Juan took him to a local boxing gym, believing it was a better place for his son to throw punches.

After a stellar 48-8 amateur career Manfredy turned professional at 18, but got the worst possible start in the paid ranks as he was stopped in two rounds. His second bout ended in a technical draw, before two wins followed and another loss brought his record to 2-2-1 after five outings.

Manfredy got on track with a first round victory over journeyman Richard Campbell in June 1994, but he was considered a quick tune-up for former World Super Bantamweight champion Kenny Mitchell two months later, and it was a huge upset when he won a six round decision over the 22-12-3 veteran.

The victory over Mitchell indicated that Manfredy could have a bright future in the ring, but he hadn’t given himself the best of chances with a reckless lifestyle outside the squared circle:

I was always crazy. By 18, I was smoking weed and drinking. I lost my first professional fight because of the drugs and partying”, Manfredy said in a 2011 interview.

Manfredy started doing drugs at 14, and was taking cocaine by 15. While he often managed to focus on boxing when a fight was lined up, he always returned to drugs when out of training. A very troubled young man, he considered taking his own life, but the reckless lifestyle almost made the choice for him.

Shortly after turning 19, driving under the influence, he crashed his car into a telephone pole and had to have several hundred stitches to close a major head wound.

"I deserved to die, no question," Manfredy told the Chicago Reader. "But I met the man that night, and I begged him for my life, begged him for a second chance."

"When I saw my dad's face (while in hospital), I knew I'd disgraced him and my family, and I vowed to make him proud of me."

After defeating Mitchell, Manfredy scored two routine first-round wins over novices, before another big test came along in the shape of 20-2 Jimmy Deoria in October 1994. Again the underdog, Manfredy pulled off another upset and won on points in his first scheduled eight-rounder.

After four more victories over nondescript opposition, he now held a decent 11-2-1 record and was considered a respectable, but beatable, foe for Italian-Canadian hot-shot Vittorio Salvatore (15-1) when they squared off for the WBF Intercontinental Super Featherweight title on April 12 1995 in Toronto.

However, Manfredy put on a great performance and totally dominated the local hero on the way to a knockout victory in the fourth round. Now a WBF Champion, things were seriously looking up for “El Diablo”, and US-based South African promoter Cedric Kushner matched him with former world featherweight champion Calvin Grove (48-7) in Atlantic City.

"I heard everybody saying Grove would outbox and outthink me," said Manfredy in the Chicago Reader interview, "but to underestimate me is always a mistake, and I proved it again that night."

Manfredy stopped Grove in seven rounds, and his climb towards the absolute top of the game was gaining pace by the second. In attendance for the fight was HBO Boxing honcho Lou DiBella, who immediately took a liking to Manfredy.

Impressive wins over Harold Petty (36-6) in Boston, Mthobeli Mhlope (27-4-1) in South Africa, and Wilfredo Ruiz (21-2) in Austria, convinced DiBella it was time to showcase Manfredy on HBO. On February 22 1997, back in Atlantic City, he fought tough contender Wilson Rodriguez (45-8-3) and was a big hit with his entertaining style, winning a unanimous decision.

The Rodriguez fight generated big ratings for HBO, proving that DiBella had made a wise choice, and Manfredy was brought back to the network six months later, stopping Mexico’s former world champion Jorge Paez (59-11-4) with a fierce body attack.

Known as an astute matchmaker, DiBella put together a fight between Manfredy and another brawler, the now late, great Arturo Gatti (29-1). Earning $200.000, by far his biggest payday, Manfredy was again the underdog, but not seen as a no-hoper in the bout.

Interviewed before the biggest fight of his life, Manfredy looked back at the moment where he saw his father’s face from the hospital bed after his accident:

"This fight is for my dad," he said. "I'd always wanted to make him proud of me, and he's my inspiration. I've come a long way since the accident and I have a long way to go, but I'm dedicating this fight to him."

Gatti vs. Manfredy was an all-out war, but Manfredy, entering the ring wearing his trademark latex devils-mask, proved to be the better man on the night. He fought three rounds with a seriously injured hand, but still managed to stop Gatti in round eight of a fight that was voted the 1998 Ring Magazine Fight of the Year.

His popularity at an all-time high and now a HBO regular, Manfredy was picked to challenge rising star Floyd Mayweather Jr. (18-0) for the WBC world title in December of 1998. He was paid $750.000 for the fight, but this match-up would also be a major let-down.

Mayweather won in the second round, some would call it a premature stoppage, and it was back to the drawing board for Manfredy. Unfortunately he would never regain the same momentum and success, but it was not for lack of trying or opportunity.

After a comeback victory in March of 1999, he defeated fellow contender Ivan Robinson (27-2) on HBO six weeks later, and then knocked out trial horse Luis Alfonso Lizarraga (29-15-3) in June. In August he moved up in weight to challenge WBC Lightweight world champion Stevie Johnston (27-1), but lost a fairly wide decision.

Five victories later Manfredy found himself back at Super Featherweight, challenging for the IBF world title against undefeated reigning champion Diego Corrales (32-0) in the fall of 2000. Corrales had little trouble with Manfredy, dropping the challenger three times before the fight was halted in round three.

After dispatching of another six opponents, including the unbeaten Julio Diaz (23-0), Manfredy earned a shot at another undefeated world champion, IBF Lightweight titlist Paul Spadafora (34-0), and did well even though he lost a close decision. Three victories followed, but this would be his last shot at winning a world title.

In July 2003 Manfredy was stopped by up-and-comer Courtney Burton (18-1), and a decision loss to Craig Weber (19-1-1) in April 2004 signaled the end of a fine career. It didn’t start well, and it didn’t end well, but there were a lot of fine moments and excellent victories in between.

Former WBF Intercontinental Champion Angel Manfredy retired at age 29 with a career record of 43-8-1 (32). Clean and sober for more than fifteen years, and a devout Christian, he is married with children and often visits schools in his spare time to give inspirational speeches.

"I made millions and millions of dollars at boxing, but it couldn't fulfill me. I had the big house, the Mercedes, the Corvette. And I got tired. It's not about the money. Money brings you down. I changed my life, but it wasn't the same. Now I want to be part of kids' lives."

  Part 3: Samson Dutch Boy Gym
  Part 2: Greg Haugen
  Part 1: Johnny Nelson
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