Iron Twin

A Colombian boxer, training in the subtropics, squares off for a championship

The chase is on.

Juan "Iron Twin" Urango, a Colombian-born fighter hunting for a world championship, marches forward and swings at his opponent, Naoufel "Chocolata" Ben Rabah, with a huge left arm. Rabah jukes him and pops off a pitty-pat of punches. Urango lashes out again; Rabah ducks and leans his shiny head away from every shot, launching guerrilla assaults from the ropes.

At the opening bell for the second round, a scattered crowd of Colombians, Pentecostals, and minor celebrities erupts. Chants of "U-rang-o!" fill the bright 5500-seat arena at Hollywood's Seminole Hard Rock Casino as their man pursues his Tunisian opponent from corner to corner. Urango shoots forward. Rabah parries, dumping mean flurries of crosses and jabs in his wake. His white gloves flutter about Urango's intractable face like a heavy hail. Pit-pat-pah.

Jacqueline Carini
Urango swings at Rabah like he owes him money
Jacqueline Carini
Urango swings at Rabah like he owes him money
Urango weighs in
Jacqueline Carini
Urango weighs in
Rabah does the same
Jacqueline Carini
Rabah does the same
Rabah nurses his injured hand
Jacqueline Carini
Rabah nurses his injured hand
Rabah grins with promoter Sampson Lewkowicz, Urango, and Urango’s manager, Luis Navarro
Jacqueline Carini
Rabah grins with promoter Sampson Lewkowicz, Urango, and Urango’s manager, Luis Navarro
Pupi (left), Tortuga, Urango, and Abril watch boxing on a back porch in Little Havana
Calvin Godfrey
Pupi (left), Tortuga, Urango, and Abril watch boxing on a back porch in Little Havana
Early sparring with Danny Santos at a gym in the Design District
Calvin Godfrey
Early sparring with Danny Santos at a gym in the Design District
Urango at Mile Marker 2 in Golden Beach
Calvin Godfrey
Urango at Mile Marker 2 in Golden Beach
Pupi wraps Urango’s right hand
Calvin Godfrey
Pupi wraps Urango’s right hand
Pupi and Urango work outside combinations
Calvin Godfrey
Pupi and Urango work outside combinations
Urango is hoisted high after the fight
Jacqueline Carini
Urango is hoisted high after the fight

A weird tension settles over the crowd; many were afraid this would happen. The slight Tunisian runs like a devil and racks up quick points with each evasion. Urango longs to carve a dramatic victory out of his foe's face — a knockout, a knockdown, a stoppage, a gash, something that will be good for TV and business. If the fight goes the distance, Urango's future will be put before three judges — old men, who could hand the match to Rabah, the underdog. Two arbitrary opinions could rob him of a rich, bright future.

At 25 years old, Urango has never tasted canvas and boasts a sterling record (sixteen wins and a draw). Still, plenty of fighters with that kind of success never get a title shot. Though there are more than 60 "world champion" boxers on any given day, a championship belt means money and choices, two things that are about as rare in the sport as shin kicks. He needs to win.

Just a few hours earlier, before the weigh-in, he had found himself in a large casino room that was as dark and quiet as a tomb. His image, rendered on a nearby ESPN monitor, made him look gigantic: A pair of impossible biceps framed an expansive, bulging chest. His back and shoulders rippled with seemingly superhuman muscles. Was this man digitally rendered for an action movie or a soda commercial?

Only his narrow, hairy calves suggested he was real. Urango stands merely five feet eight inches and weighs (for the purpose of this fight) 140 pounds. His physique and relentless knockout assaults have earned him the moniker "Little Tyson."

Joe Tessitore, a puffy play-by-play man, started in with questions that Urango dodged like so many punches. "Yes, my hand is better and ready to punch him out.... No, I don't have much interest in the World Cup.... There's not much interesting from when I was a kid.... I don't have any sad stories to tell.... I'm gonna be a bull in the ring. This victory is for me and God."

Urango stomped and sighed. He'd had enough. Tessitore wrapped it up.

The fighter returned to the weigh-in room and sat on a cooler full of Gatorade. His wife, Elizabeth, leaned her curly blond mop on his knee; her blue eyes were glazed over with exhaustion and anxiety. This was one of the rare moments they had shared outside of church in recent months. For a second, they seemed to have found peace.


A few months back, the International Boxing Federation's junior welterweight champ, Ricky Hatton, had decided to move up a weight class. Urango (ranked number three) and Rabah (then ranked number two) were set to fight for the top spot. Sore ex-managers and indignant promoters poured out of the woodwork, dusty contracts in hand. They had been waiting years to pounce on this kind of scratch. Urango had waited his whole life.

Juan Urango grew up in a little Colombian mountain town called Jaraquielle, on a farm dotted with chickens and pigs. Milk came from the teat, and huge fish were roasted directly on the bank of a nearby river. Despite the richness of the land, poverty was poverty, and Urango, to this day, is sickened by the sight of plain, white rice.

He grew up in a house with four older sisters and his twin brother Pedro — hence his nickname. Their father abandoned the family when their mother was pregnant with the Iron Twins.

"But now I have a father," Urango says, his small, dark eyes beaming over a pair of sharpened cheekbones. "He's the richest in the world; he's the Son of a King."

Urango has little patience for discussion that doesn't involve God. Questions about his personal life and his past agitate him. Soon after the queries begin, he lets loose huge leonine yawns, tosses playful jabs into your ribs, and pulls at your foot like a bear toying with a camper. These moments make you eminently grateful for Juan Urango's relationship with Jesus Christ.

When he was a boy, his mother worked at surrounding dairy farms as a caretaker. He and Pedro grew up scrapping and wrestling under the weary eyes of their grandparents. The boys' sisters doted on them but lacked the authority for discipline.

When they were eight years old, their uncle, Alvaro Albán, began teaching the twins to box in a stark, dirt-floor gym, a ten-minute walk from the farm. Sparring helmets were made from tape and towels. Conditioning was worked into their daily regimen.

At age ten, Urango and the more taciturn Pedro spent their days diving nine meters to the bottom of the Sinú river and surfacing with sacks of stones. Albán believed this lifting would help their punches. The boys sold the stones to builders for a meager wage.

Despite his jagged, action-figure build, Urango swears he has never lifted a dumbbell. Pedro has the same physique — a fantastic product of Colombian high-mountain blood and a life of hard work. "Sometimes he wasn't so into it," Urango says of his brother. "Sometimes he didn't want to get hit."

Urango claims he didn't get serious about boxing until age twelve, when a kid three years his senior cleaned his clock. "Then I decided I would train for real." From then on, he did little else. "I came back and knocked him out," Urango says, as though it couldn't have happened any other way.

"Juan would leave school and go back [home to train]," comments his older sister Janet, from Colombia. "Generally neither of my brothers went to school very much.... They just didn't go."

At age fifteen, Urango won the first of four amateur national championships. He received no money for his fights, "just free Cokes," says Janet. "He told me he wanted to be a champion. That was all he wanted." After that, Urango took three minor Latin American titles.

During his amateur career, Urango says he fought more than 100 young men. He remembers no names. His amateur record, according to Colombian boxing records, was 123 and 22.

At age eighteen, he had his first child in Colombia. He says he's fathered seven "that I know of." When asked their names, he can recount only five. The other two, he says, "I don't know."

In the 2000 Americas Olympic qualifying tournament in Buenos Aires, Urango lost to current WBO junior welterweight champion Miguel Cotto. (If he defeats Rabah, he might get a shot at Cotto again.)

Following the loss, Urango began his mandatory two-year stint in the Colombian infantry. They had a nice ring and good facilities. "I never saw combat," he says with sincere relief. "Thank God."

In April 2002, he began a pro career in Colombia. In his first eight months, he won eight fights. Five of them ended in a knockout before the second round. His raw fitness and uncanny natural power quickly became renowned. In November of that year, he signed a blank, shady contract forfeiting half of everything he would earn to a promoter named Hernán Gómez. The document covered his entire career. He needed the fights. It still hounds him today.

Trouncing Rabah at the Hard Rock would make the sum insignificant. Even weeks before the fight, the tireless, robotic execution of exercise after exercise revealed his hunger. His eyes shone dull and driven — like a mule pulling heavy weight. "This is an opportunity to move up in the boxing world," he said. "But this isn't about me. This is about God. God put me here for a purpose."


Urango wakes at 5:00 on the steamy morning of June 14 in Little Havana. It is two weeks before the fight. His plush mattress is surrounded by cracked pink walls. Peeling white paint dangles from the ceiling. The blinds don't close, but it's just as well: Urango and the sun keep similar hours.

He shuffles into a cramped, windowless kitchen to find Tortuga, a.k.a. Louis Fonseca, who sleeps — very little — in an adjoining room. The jocund Miami smoothie began promoting clubs before he finished high school. For the past two months, Tortuga has been Urango's chauffeur, quartermaster, bank, and day-planner — something between drill sergeant and soccer mom. Everyone calls him Tortuga because he's built like a turtle: stout, round, with an upper lip that comes to a little apex at the center of his pointy grin.

While Urango waits for the brown water to run clear from the bathroom faucet, Tortuga packs a massive duffel bag with everything they will need for the day. They have been here for five weeks.

It's a typical morning at the Spartan bubble, set up to prepare Urango and another fighter, Richard "El Tigre" Abril. Abril will be boxing a local up-and-comer in a televised fight before the main event. Here life is reduced to boxing and, ideally, nothing else — a training montage run in slow motion, but no one seems to mind. Urango needs to beat Rabah if he wants to make any kind of money. Tortuga needs him to win for the same reason. He occasionally refers to Urango as "the jewel in the crown."

On the way out, Urango and Tortuga pick up Abril from the apartment across the hall. Few people in town know it, but the stringy 23-year-old junior welterweight was a terror in Cuba. Abril is only 3-0 in the States — and he's on the card to fight before Urango. Abril says he stopped counting his Cuban amateur fights in earnest when he hit 130. When pressed for an estimate, however, the fighter puts his record at roughly 134 and 11.

In life, Abril is quiet and gentle. In the ring, he is serpentine — wrapping his opponents like a boa and striking like a viper. He has been training and praying alongside Urango for a month now; they act like brothers.

By 6:00 a.m., they have all piled into a rented Chrysler Pacifica cluttered with gauze, promotional flyers, first-aid kits, melons, Gatorade, gym clothes, mouthpieces, and gloves. Weeks earlier, in an act of boredom or curiosity, Urango autographed the vehicle's center console with a black permanent marker: "Juan Urango: Champium."

"What was I gonna do?" Tortuga asks as he takes to the road. "Fight him?"

On an average day, Tortuga drives 100 miles, bouncing like a pinball between Miami and Broward — beach, doctor, food, physical therapist, home, gym, food, church. In the course of this journey, Urango DJs an uninterrupted soundtrack of Christian salsa, Christian reggaeton, Christian ranchera, and light Christian rock. The music seems to follow him wherever he goes. When Urango is not in the car, Tortuga flips on the radio to bask in a moment of loud commercial rap.

The first stop is Golden Beach. Every morning the boxers go for a run shepherded by their trainer, Alejandro "Pupi" Torre. Pupi is an odd splice between Desi Arnaz and the Marlboro Man; his face is dark and rugged, marked with the boundaries of his broad smile. When he's answering even the simplest questions, Pupi's whole body comes alive, hands cocked, shoulders shrugged — he points, leans, swaggers, and grins.

Once on the beach, Urango smears his body with sweat-inducing goop and dons a wetsuit top. Abril puts on pants and a long-sleeve shirt. At dawn, the temperature is already in the low eighties. The two bite down on their mouthpieces and set off at a trot along white sand and surf. Pupi and Tortuga return to the car to find an angry Golden Beach Police officer. "You can't park here!" he barks.

"I'm not parking," says Tortuga with a scoff, as he hands the cop a flyer. "We're training for a world title fight. Here you go."

As the sun cuts through the salty dawn mist, Tortuga and Pupi drive two miles south and park. By the time they have filled a couple of sports bottles with ice and Gatorade, Urango and Abril appear over the horizon, drenched.

Pupi hydrates them and points south. They continue. Tortuga and Pupi get into the car and jet to the next pit stop. This morning Urango and Abril will run for five miles in the soft sand. Yesterday they ran eight.

Tortuga mocks Rabah's name whenever it comes up. But the inspiration for all of this running is clearly a sense that the Tunisian will keep Urango marching and punching for a solid twelve rounds. Urango's only twelve-round fight ended in a draw, so the conditioning is vital.

At the finish line, the boxers strip down to their underwear, wipe the slime from their skin, and head to Urango's townhouse in Davie for a nap. His wife and her children are out of town. The house is cool, quiet, and sparsely furnished. Urango and Abril head directly upstairs.

Tortuga sits wearily at the kitchen counter. "I go through the same thing he goes through, except he gets hit," says Tortuga, his lids heavy in the blue glow of the cracked laptop screen. Someone sat on it in the car. The Blackberry he answers is his second. The first met its end in a corner spit bucket.


One day in 2003, at a fish market in Colombia, a friend of Urango's named Manuel Espinosa proffered a chance to get to Spain. He said his brother Jairo managed a stable of fighters there. There might be money. Days later Urango gathered his papers, packed his bags, and left for the madness of Madrid.

Soon the young fighter found himself living in a room with four other boxers in an industrial suburb of the Spanish capital. After Urango floored his first opponent during the opening round, Jairo and his son Gilbert signed him in August 2003. That contract was to last four years.

Money was scarce. Urango's managers wired 200 euros to his kids every month, but he spent his share of the 2000- to 3000-euro purses quickly. Life was uncertain. "There were times when I didn't have anything in my pocket," Urango says. Booze and girls were everywhere, and he recalls waking up one morning curled up in an ATM kiosk.

The fighting world of Spain was savage. When Urango weighed in at 147 for his third bout, he ended up squaring off against a Ghanian super-middleweight who was ten pounds heavier. Urango limped away with an achy six-round decision.

Then pain began creeping into his left hand; a wad of scar tissue swelled beneath his middle knuckle. X-rays showed nothing, but the pain grew and grew. He fought through it.

The money situation worsened. He relied on his managers for everything and won't speak much about the nature of their arrangement. On a spring morning in 2004, a swarm of Spanish cops with guns drawn surrounded their car. They seized Jairo and threw handcuffs on him. "But I'm supposed to train," Urango protested as they put him into a police car. "I'm supposed to fight!" (Gilbert Espinosa confirms the arrest but won't name the charge. He argues that his father is now out of jail and preparing to sue Urango for breach of contract.)

In May 2004, a scout from Warriors Boxing Inc. — the Hollywood promoters who handle many of the area's top matchups — offered Urango a fight at the Seminole Hard Rock Casino and a promotional contract. Urango hopped on a plane a week before his first American bout with a Russian named Sergey Sorokin.

Two long years later, he would return to the garish casino for his shot at the title.


Around 10:00 a.m. on June 14, Urango wakens from his post-run nap and pulls a bowl of watermelon from the fridge. He eats it over the sink, juice running down his chin. It is his first food of the day. Tortuga rouses Abril from his room; he is deeply ensconced in a telenovela.

By 11:00 Tortuga has wrangled them back into the car and sets off for the doctor (weekly checkup) and physical therapist. Tense, swollen backs are rubbed down with oil, heated, and hooked up to therapeutic electrodes.

From these appointments, it is straight to the gym, a white cinder-block hangar amid the broken and rotting warehouses of Miami's fashion district. The grimy cube houses a ring, four heavy bags, two speed bags, and a Soviet crop duster that was hijacked in 2004 by a Cuban family of eight. The U.S. government seized it, stripped it, and reassembled it in the gym. Abril thinks he remembers seeing it fly overhead while he was eating mangos in his front yard on Isla De Pinos.

After greasing himself with more heat goop, Urango sets to work for 30 minutes of uninterrupted jump rope. By the end, his sneakers squeak with each tiny leap into a growing mandala of sweat.

Drenched, he climbs into the ring and proceeds with the ostensibly schizophrenic ritual of shadow-boxing — jabbing, upper-cutting, and hooking an imaginary foe to unconsciousness. He methodically punches from one corner of the ring to the next and back around.

"He's working on his form," Pupi says from the corner. "His own form."

As Urango punches in furious circles, he must know that a loss to Rabah, even on points, would set him back a year. A second loss could keep him from another title shot forever. It is an odd business that has men pounding success and security out of one another like candy from a piñata.

At 3:30 p.m., Tortuga and Pupi go to work wrapping his hands in gauze, placing them snugly into gloves, and taping them to his wrists. Pupi slips on a pair of hand-held punch pads and climbs into the ring. Boxer and trainer commence a weird dance, slowly building combinations in a dramatic pantomime of a fight. "Bam, bam, bam," Pupi mutters, calling for punches. Deep thuds echo over the Christian tunes as Urango fires forth like a precision jackhammer. "Gracias, Señor," he sings.

After six rounds of pads, Urango is sent to work the heavy bag. He knocks the 150-pound sack into the air like a child on a swing, while Abril spars in the ring with Lamar Murphy. The 33-year-old once had nineteen straight wins and a bright, big future. Now he sleeps on a futon in the corner of the room and spars for $20 a match. His presence haunts the gym — a constant reminder that a trip to the canvas can hurt you in more ways than one.

After the timer buzzes, Pupi and Tortuga remove Urango's gloves to reveal that his left thumb is bleeding. That's it for the heavy bag. Owing to the nasty gash, which erupted a week ago, Urango will not punch flesh until he steps into the ring with Rabah.

"If he's gonna injure it," Tortuga says gravely, "it's gonna have to be during the fight. He'll just have to fight through it."

When he finishes his workout, it's nearly 5:00 p.m. There's just enough time to dress and go to church. "Boxing is not forever," Urango says as he gathers his things. "God is forever. If God tells me to leave boxing...."


It is Sunday, a week before the fight. Urango sits attentively outside his church, Segadores de Vida, a long strip of a building nestled amid the commercial jumble of State Road 7 just south of the Hard Rock. Inside, a low drop-ceiling hangs over thousands of occupied folding chairs.

As moody keyboard riffs fill the massive multipurpose room, Pastor Ruddy Garcia paces in a dapper cream-color suit, speaking in tongues. A stampede of Hispanic parishioners rises and floods toward the large open space in front of the stage. Urango follows.

"Receive him!" Pastor Ruddy commands. The stout Dominican preacher approaches the trembling and weeping masses before him and touches them on their heads, grimacing as he cries exultations into the microphone. With each touch, a body collapses to the carpet. Many are in tears. Sweater-vested church leaders appear with light-blue blankets, cover the incapacitated, and leave them to writhe in religious ecstasy.

Urango worships at the rear, teeth barred, eyes clenched, and arms raised heavenward. An ear-splitting speaker blares Pastor Ruddy's voice overhead; no one seems to mind the volume. Urango's wife Elizabeth stands at his side, her head bowed, her hands folded in front of her.

"Urango and I used to drink together," Elizabeth says later as she shifts her faded green Mitsubishi into neutral to prevent it from stalling. "Now we get drunk in the Holy Ghost. It's much better." The whole vehicle rumbles and shakes each time she accelerates. "This is the car I taught him to drive in," she says with a titter. "He messed up the gear shifter."

Urango sits in the passenger seat, smiling.

"If God wants us to have this victory, He'll give it to us," Elizabeth adds a moment later in her Flatbush-drenched Nuyorican accent. "If he doesn't...."

The day after the fighter's arrival in the United States, a boxer friend took him to Elizabeth's apartment, she recalls. She was cooking soup. They all sat down to eat. "What a caveman!" she comments, her eyes aghast. "I mean, he ate without breathing!" Today she affectionately refers to him as "caveman."

At the end of the meal that night, he handed her a ticket to his first American fight. Though in the past she had run summer boxing camps for some of Don King's small-time fighters, this would be her first fight too.

Elizabeth showed up dressed in green — a nod to Urango's service in the Colombian infantry. "I was all the way in the back, but I was the only voice you could hear." Urango won the fight by unanimous decision — knocking the Russian, Sorokin, off of his feet in the third round and dealing him the only loss of his career. "I knew then he was going to be a world champion," she says.

After that, they spent nearly every day together. She began shopping for his family — sexy underwear for the mothers, little outfits for the kids. He taught her to climb trees and swim. She ran with him before fights and translated when necessary. Urango continued to win.

In August 2004 he announced he was heading to Colombia. When he arrived in his homeland, he discovered authorities were after him for nonpayment of child support. While driving the streets of Montería — his home state — his friends would push him to the floor when they spotted police cars.

"They're gonna get me!" worried his twin, Pedro. But they finally did get Juan and nearly incarcerated him. "If you put me in jail," he remembers arguing, "how am I gonna support my family?" The mother wanted 200,000 pesos a month. Urango got off with paying 30,000. "Even if I was the president, I couldn't afford 200,000!" he pleaded.

After a three-month holdover, Urango returned to the States and his life in Florida — alone and largely broke.


On Wednesday, June 28, two nights before the fight, Elizabeth, Urango, Abril, and Urango's head manager, Luis Navarro, show up at Segadores de Vida for the sermon. Rudy, a rippling Italian bodyguard, accompanies them. ("There are a lot of people from Urango's past who don't want him to succeed," Tortuga said of the hired muscle.) "I'm gonna grab a headset for the bodyguard," Urango tells his wife as he jogs down the back row. "I'm gonna convert him."

Ultimately it was this church that brought Urango back to Elizabeth. During their separation, they spoke only a few times. She felt spurned. But then one day, as she was packing her life into boxes, preparing to move into the Davie townhouse, she caught an old Urango fight on television. As she chided herself for having let him get away, her phone rang. He wanted her to come to church with him on Sunday.

She soon converted (she was Episcopalian). They moved in together in July 2005 and were married in a quiet ceremony at her home in October. When a Colombian beer company offered him more than $20,000 for an endorsement, Urango turned it down. The church frowns on drinking.

Now they attend church together three times a week, plus events and outings. Urango says the church saved his life and his soul. "I have a passion in my life and my family," he beams. "I'm faithful to my wife. I don't drink. Depression, anxiety — gone."

Even while training, Urango is on the hunt for converts. Abril accepted Jesus in early June. (The bodyguard didn't — at least not that night.)

Pastor Ruddy Garcia opens a sermon about tithing and prosperity — one of his most prevalent topics — with a video testimony. The video features a woman named Amantina Ruiz, who stated she had given the Lord (the church) her entire salary and has been prosperous ever since. Tithes at Segadores de Vida are understood to be ten percent of one's earnings. But in a previous sermon, Pastor Ruddy divided Christians into three classes: those who don't contribute, those who give within their means, and those who give beyond their means. "If you want a bigger miracle," he said, "give more."

During the ceremony, Urango turns in his seat and collects donations from Navarro, Abril, and the bodyguard. He then pulls out an enormous wad of cash — money that has been advanced to him by his managers. He has been donating all along, but this is the largest drop of them all.


At the bell ending Round 5, Urango sits down on a stool amid a corner of management-appointed strangers (icing, dousing, wiping). Pupi's face and hands crackle with emphatic advice. Urango nods blankly. Get the man.

But Rabah plays a sly matador — stabbing away with well-aimed uppercuts to grab point after point. It's clear to the ESPN announcers that he will soon be champion. On the rare occasion that Urango's tremendous blows connect, Rabah kicks and dashes like a rabbit. But it's a nonmatch: no blood, no knockdown, no knockout.

Early in the seventh round, the knuckles on Rabah's right hand shatter — a boxer's nightmare. As Urango steps up his charge, the wounded stick-and-move artist can only move and clinch, conserving his pained defense for dire binds.

Whump. A hook beats Rabah's body like a trash can lid. The effect is horrifying. Rather than trying to out-box Urango, the slight Tunisian struggles to keep his opponent's baneful blows from outscoring his early points and liquefying his insides.

He continues to shuffle evasively about the ring — an unforgivable offense in boxing. A referee in the 1950s might have sent Rabah to his corner for such evasion. Today fighters are often permitted to continue, but are disdained as "runners." They make for bad television.

Through the pain and occasional blow, Rabah skirts a toe-to-toe brawl, racking up jabs with his one good hand.

Just before the eighth-round bell, the mob cries for violence. "Kill him — you're Colombian!" one agitated spectator hollers. "Viva El Latino!" cries another. Soon the calls for blood subside; the audience is bored, frustrated. Walter Lopez, a petite Puerto Rican mechanic and church friend of the Urangos, leaps to his feet and explodes just as an odd hush falls over the arena. "Dale la fuerza de dios!" he thunders through the trumpet of his cupped hands. "Estás un escudero de Cristo!" he adds, red-faced and wild-eyed.

Elizabeth rises and shrieks.

Urango's advances take a wild turn — like Popeye with a bellyful of spinach. He makes hard, crazy attempts to cut off the corners, lunging for Rabah's ribs. Through Rounds 11 and 12, he fights with fervent abandon, marching double-time into a murderous blitz.

When the final bell rings at the end of the twelfth round, no one seems sure of the result. Navarro stands in a suit and T-shirt, the corners of his mouth pointing decidedly south. All is dire and down. Tortuga peeks over the judges' shoulders and begins hopping. As Rabah's corner men drape him in a Tunisian flag, stoically awaiting a decision, boos rain down on him from all corners.

Navarro doffs his jacket to reveal a T-shirt emblazoned from belly to neck with "Juan Urango, IBF Jr. Welterweight Champion."

Soon news of Urango's victory surges through the audience like panic. The ref calls the fighters to the center of the ring. Before he can finish announcing a unanimous decision, Pupi lifts Urango high into the air, hooting in victory. As the ring floods with leaping, screaming well-wishers, Rabah shakes his head, grinning in disbelief. The 28-year-old might never get another big chance.

"You see that?" Walter Lopez asks sternly as he lifts a corner rope to join the wild celebration. "That was it. You saw it. That was the hand of God."

The rest of the world would call the win a robbery. ESPN's Teddy Atlas would term the ruling "a travesty," second only to "sick children" and "people losing their lives." Joe Tessitore would be too disgusted by the decision to comment on it. The Boxing Times had Rabah winning nine rounds to three. AP reporters would claim that "many of the Miami-based fighter's home-region fans at the Seminole Hard Rock Casino even booed as the decision was read, clearly thinking Ben Rabah won the bout." Newspapers around the nation would refer to it as a "controversial" decision. But that sentiment seemed almost absent in the crowd. Rabah had spent an unforgivable hour ducking the head-on violent collision they'd paid to see. The AP got it wrong — the boos were for that damn runner. The judges sided with Urango — all three gave him the victory.

As Urango heads up to his hotel room, a small, emphatic Colombian man waving a miniature flag brushes past Urango's bodyguards and lifts him into the air by the waist. He demands a picture be taken.

Urango clutches the shiny red belt until he's inside his room. He stands next to his bed, tosses it high into the air, and lets it fall — poof — onto a down comforter. "Now I need three more," he says. Abril walks in, grinning victoriously. He took a stellar four-round win tonight and is well on his way. Footage of Mike Tyson attacking Lennox Lewis at a weigh-in flashes on the TV screen; today is Iron Mike's 40th birthday. Urango smiles.


A month after the fight, Urango ducked back into Colombia. Tortuga is on his way there to bring him back. The Iron Twin is scheduled to defend his title against Ricky "The Hitman" Hatton in December.

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