Sunday, November 8, 2009

Harry Joe Yorgey is Coming to Win

Harry Joe Yorgey was a star running back at Upper Merion High School in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania. He was so good in fact; that he had 34 scholarship offers to play college football.

He ultimately did go on to play college ball, but only for a short time.
"I used to weigh two-hundred pounds, believe it or not," says the likable Yorgey who will meet Alfredo "Perro" Angulo tonight in Hartford, Connecticut for the interim WBO 154-pound title.

"But when I was in college playing football, I was away and I called my Dad and told him I was coming home," he explains. "I wasn't doing what I wanted to do."
What Harry Joe Yorgey wanted to do, was fight.

And so far, the 31-year-old prizefighter has proven to be as good in the squared circle as he was on the gridiron. He's undefeated at 22-0-1, 10 KOs, is ranked in the top-10 by the various boxing sanctioning organizations and he's fresh off the biggest win of his career – a ninth-round knockout win in March over Ronald Hearns.

"We just went into that fight and grabbed the opportunity by the throat," said Yorgey of the Hearns fight. "Nobody gave me a chance, but I knew that I was going to win it."

The road hasn't been easy for Yorgey, as the seedy business side of boxing has sometimes forced him to go through long stretches of inactivity. Disputes with the managerial and promotional side of things have limited his progress. Scheduled fights have fallen apart at the last minute and the combination of those issues limited him to a solo appearance in 2008. Tonight’s fight against Angulo will be only his second of 2009.

"I was supposed to have fought Carlos Quintana on July twenty-fourth, but that fight fell apart," explains Yorgey. "They mentioned Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr., but I looked too good against Hearns and they backed out. He actually pulled out of that fight. Then there was talk of a Cory Spinks fight, but that didn't happen either."

The one time Yorgey did make it into the ring earlier this year against Hearns, he made it count. He put on a career best performance and he gutted out the upset victory over Thomas Hearns’ son. The fight was televised by the Showtime network and although he had been a professional for seven long years it wasn’t until this fight that many boxing fans had a good chance to see what Yorgey was really capable of.

Yorgey came into prominence when he knocked out Ronald Hearns earlier this year.

Since the Hearns fight, a little more attention has been paid to the young man from Bridgeport, Pennsylvania, which is situated just north of Philadelphia on the Schuylkill River. It was Yorgey’s second win in a row over an undefeated fighter as in 2008 he defeated Jason LeHoullier by way of a majority decision. Although he hasn’t yet met with the monetary success and notoriety that boxing can bring, he has managed to pick up a collection of hardware in the form of "championship" title belts. The IBU Intercontinental, the IBF International and the IBA Intercontinental belts all line the shelves of his trophy case

But tonight in Hartford, before a live crowd at the XL Center and before an HBO television audience, Yorgey will take a shot at the brass ring and get his first shot at a world championship. It has been a long slog to get here, but the fight with Angulo will represent the culmination of a lifetime spent in the sport.

"I've been boxing since I was a kid," says Harry Joe, who has a positive attitude that is positively infectious. "I made my pro debut at the Blue Horizon and that was really something else. It's always something special when you fight there. They brought me back there seven times and I sold it out every time."

Yorgey has a throwback quality about him. Bridgeport is an old-time sort of place that was built upon the backs of men that worked in the brickyards, cotton mills and steel foundries. Even the name "Harry Joe" seems to have a ring to it that exudes rough and tumble. He will need all of the roughness and old-time spirit he can muster against Angulo who is one of the top Jr. middleweights in the sport. Yorgey is being brought in as the opponent and he is the betting underdog. To say that he has the deck stacked against him in the fight would not be an understatement.

Harry Joe has managed to sell out Philadelphia's legendary Blue Horizon on more than one occasion.

"He's a good fighter and he comes with pressure," says Harry Joe of Angulo, whose nickname "Perro" means "dog" in Spanish. "He comes straight at you. To be honest with you, I like the way he fights."

The fight card is headlined by the interim WBC light heavyweight title bout between Connecticut’s Chad Dawson who has the same promoter (Gary Shaw) and manager (Mike Criscio) as Angulo. HBO has also spent much time, effort and money in marketing both Dawson and Angulo as the next big things. In short, the night has been designed as a showcase for the "house" fighters. So Yorgey will have to overcome not only the bite of Angulo's punches - but also the bias of the judges, the network and the fans.

"I'm a student of the game, I'm a professional," Yorgey rationalizes. "I think I'm in a good position right now because the junior middleweight division is one of the top divisions in the sport. I'm strong at this weight, I'm excited about being here and this fight will catapult me. I know I'm the underdog, but I don't care, because I'm coming to win."

And whether it’s been on the football field or in the boxing ring, that’s the one thing Harry Joe Yorgey has always done. Win.

November 2009

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