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January 29, 2009

By Socrates Palmer, Jr.

Juan Urango was once near the very top of the ultra-competitive junior welterweight division. In 2007 the power punching Colombian held the IBF version of the 140-pound title, that same strap that he will be trying to win back when he faces Hermann Ngoudjo on Friday in Montreal's Belle Center. Urango will seek to accomplish his goal on enemy territory the African Ngoudjo is promoted and based in Montreal. Urango feels confident that he will get a justly officiated contest when he meets, despite fighting in Ngoudjoís adopted hometown.

ďIíve trained very hard for this fight and Iíve got a positive attitude and no I donít feel the need to get a knockout to win. But one thing that Iím certain about is that Iím coming to win and Iím focused. I think that the judging will be fair and I have not concerned myself with anything that I can not control. This is a very important fight for me and my family,Ē Urango.

The last time world title bout in Montreal became an infamous event. On October 24, 2008, IBF Super Middleweight champion Lucian Bute, also Canadian based, defended his title controversially when referee Marlon Wright gave him an extended 10 count. Bute was dropped on the seat of his pants by Librado Andrade in the final round of their championship bout, and, although it is debatable whether the ruling cost Andrade the title, Wright's officiating was at the very least incompetent and quite possibly corrupt.

In a case of irony regarding Urango vs. Ngoudjo, Andradeís chief second on that night was Otis Grant. Grant also trains Ngoudjo. As a result of a confrontation that Grant had with the aforementioned referee and minor melee which ensued in the ring, Grant is suspended for tomorrow's fight, and will not be allowed to work Ngoudjo's corner.

Urango feels that Ngoudjo is a solid professional and feels that it will be a good and entertaining fight that will pit a contrast in styles. ďIíve watched tapes and Iím familiar with Ngoudjo and he has a very comparable style to other guys Iíve faced both in the pros and amateurs. Iíve also fought Europeans before and I think he has that typical Euro style. I expect him to fight a tactical fight. Everyone fights different depending on the opponent, so I cant say I am certain of what to expect come fight night, but Iím confident in my ability and the work that I put will be the difference in the fight lets see if he will be able to handle my pressure,Ē Urango.

 Urangoís one-punch knockout threat has made him a television darling, and in last bout on ESPN2, he annihilated Carlos Vilches in four rounds. The soft spoken, but hard hitting Urango said that he is not strictly focused on knocking out Ngoudjo, but similar to what Mickey Mantle said when asked if he goes up to the plate trying to hit a home run on every pitch, its easy to read between the lines. Urangoís humble demeanor seems to almost go against his exterior. He has a body that looks like he can compete in the Mr. Universe contest and owns a classic intimidating stare. But Urango lets his fist do the talking and says he has never disrespected any opponent because as a Christian, he believes no one is better than anyone else.

ďEveryone wants to be a world champion Iíve had nothing handed to me. Itís a great honor to be in this position once again and Iím very hungry,Ē Urango.

Urangoís down to earth persona is a refreshing one in a sport full of bravado and machismo and sometimes testosterone gone wild. Urango credits his Christian beliefs for keeping him grounded. ďBeing a Christian and being a follower of Christ are two different things I feel. Anyone can say that they believe Jesus. I try to never lose focus on what is important in life. Riches, fame all of that is secondary to having a peaceful relationship with God, Its helped my career immensely and I know I would not be here today without Jesus in my life. I was heading down a path of self destruction,Ē Urango.

The devout Christian got married in October 2005 to his wife Elizabeth. Urango said that Elizabeth and Jesus have provided stability that he was lacking. Itís a far cry of the life he used to live. Urango enjoyed the night life, being promiscuous and the adulation that comes from being a professional athlete. But one day he accepted an invitation by fellow fighter and friend Arnolfo Diaz, to attend a church service with him.  ďI came to the gym one day hung over and Arnolfo (Diaz) invited me to go to church with him and itís the best decision I ever made, if I did not start going back to church, I would not be here today. Its amazing how God puts people in our lives,Ē Urango.

 Prior to his marriage, Urango fathered 5 children by 4 different women. According to Urango, at one point when he was living back in Colombia and dividing his time amongst the 4 women simultaneously. Urango and his wife Elizabeth have a 1 year old son. Urango is originally from Monterria, Colombia where he was raised by a single mother, and himself is 1 of 5 children. In fact he has twin sibling. Urango calls his mother his inspiration, because of her hardworking ways. As a child Urango was raised on his familiesí farm, and says that he was working the family land at the age of 10.

ďIíve worked hard to get to where I am. I try to pass on to some of the younger guys out there that I meet that if you are having a hard time finding peace in your life here on earth, God can provide that inner peace,Ē Urango.

Urango said that his faith keeps him on even ground both in his professional and personal life. He says that being a Christian and his communication with his Holy Father helped him deal with the only loss in his professional career at the hands of Ricky Hatton. The 28 year old says his faith gives him confidence to know that now will be his time to shine.

ďI want to thank my promoters Seminole Warriors Boxing for all their support and I am going to do my best to bring back another world title to our stable,Ē Urango.

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