(Photo credit Adrian Hernandez) By Robert Jackson: In the Rio Grande Valley, Texas, middleweight/Jr middleweight pro Raul ‘El Tigre’ Casarez is a local legend. His amateur exploits that began at age 12 are well known to locals from Rio Grande City to Brownsville and throughout South Texas. El Tigre who sports a 19-2, 9 KO’s professional record has been tabbed to face Alfredo ‘El Perro’ Angulo for his comeback fight scheduled for November 10, 2012 in California. In Marines gym on the eastside of Edinburg, Texas this writer got a chance to observe Casarez’ training for his BIG fight and was granted a rare interview afterwards.
RJ: Hello El Tigre, How’s it going? You’re coming off of your biggest win over JC Candelo, what did winning that fight do for your career?
ET: Having fun, that fight was just another day at the office, something I love to do, having fun doing it.
RJ: Tell me about the name “El Tigre”, where it came from.
ET: I was 12 years old at the time I fought at Brownsville Texas regional golden gloves, at that time Octavio Saenz who worked for Univison was there and there was a world champion Nestor “El Tigre” Garza who fought out of Reynosa, Mexico and they (Saenz) said I fought like him and reminded them of him and they started calling me tigre and tigre grew up now I’m El Tigre.
RJ: You’re getting ready to face Alfredo Angulo on November 10th in an elimination bout, the winner of the fight supposedly to face Canelo Alvarez, what does this fight mean to you?
ET: Either Canelo, Cotto or Austin Trout, this fight like I said man, “I love fighting”, excuse my language but I had 3 older brothers that kicked my ass everyday and I guess they beat it into me to love it man, and I just see it as another fight, of course in my career it means a lot. But to me I’m just going to have fun every minute of it whether the fight lasts 30 seconds whether it lasts 12 rounds I’m going to enjoy it.
RJ: How’s training going?
ET: Training is going great I’m ahead of schedule man, my trainer had let me know about 3 weeks ago there’s talk of you fighting Angulo, there’s talk of you fighting Angulo, so I got on the ball, started training, getting up early in the morning, I bumped into you at Pan Am (UTPA) the other morning. I feel like I’m a step ahead, I still got 2 months, I’m in great shape I can go 8 hard rounds right now.
RJ: How long is your camp going to be?
ET: Really, they let me know last week, so it’s supposed to be 2 months, but like I said I’m a month into training already.
RJ: You ready for the 12 rounds already or are you building up to it?
ET: I can go 12 rounds in my sleep, like I said “I love doing this, I love fighting”, I’m just going to enjoy every second of it.
RJ: Any changes in preparation to get ready for Angulo?
ET: Me and James (trainer James Gogue) had a long talk about this and uh Angulo hits very hard I used to spar him when I was about 18 in California, this guy can hit! But I’m just seeing it like any other opponent, like I said I love it man, I ain’t gonna change nothing, he’s the one that’s going to change things around, I ain’t worried about him, I’m going to do what I love to do and go there and have fun that night.
RJ: What are you going into the fight expecting?
ET: I expect a war, Angulo obviously wants to make an impression coming back he wants to impress the crowd and uh expect a hell of a fight.
RJ: Do you see some things in Angulo that you can take advantage of?
ET: I see a lot of things I’d rather not mention, exactly what I see but uh honestly…I want it man. I got a 7 year old little girl and this is my chance to give her a better life and I’m going to do everything in my power to do that.
RJ: How’s sparring?
ET: Sparring’s great, I have one of the best sparring partners in the world, Roberto ‘La Amenaza’ Garcia, he fought Margarito. La Amenaza man he’s a dangerous sparring partner, he’ll go to New Jersey, he’ll go to Top Rank, he’s sparred Angulo, I’ve seen some sparring of them both. I think La Amenaza would get the best of Angulo (while sparring). La Amenaza is an animal in the gym and I feel I’m doing pretty good with him.
RJ: When will you be leaving for California?
ET: About a week before. A lot of people ask me why don’t you go to camp somewhere? Why don’t you take off and train somewhere else? This is where I’m happy, I have a beautiful family, a beautiful little girl, she and, I get to have lunch with her, at school. I mean I have fun here, it works, if it ain’t broke, why fix it?
RJ: Okay, Once you get past Alfredo Angulo what’s next for you?
ET: A world title, they need to give me a title shot, whether it’s uh, I don’t know what organization is giving me this elimination bout but whether it’s Canelo, whether it’s Cotto, whether it’s Austin Trout. Like I say I sound like a broken record man, I’m just going to have fun doing it.
RJ: In ending is there anything you’d like to say to your fans?
ET: Let’s get it on, come November 10th, let’s get it on. I’m happy man and uh, I’m going to enjoy it.
RJ: Thanks El Tigre
ET: Thank you, God Bless you.