Canelo Alvarez destroys James Kirkland in three
It was promised to be a fight and that’s exactly what was delivered.
After non-stop, toe-to-toe action, Saul “Canelo” Alvarez knocked James Kirkland out in the third round with a right hand that wrapped a bow on a gift of a fight for fans whom prefer a relentless style of boxing. The 30,000-plus fanatics who packed Minute Maid Park in Houston, Texas, and those nationwide watching on HBO, got a memorable show even though the slugfest only lasted eight minutes.
Technical boxing tactics were thrown out the window once the first bell sounded, thanks to Kirkland, who set the precedent by maniacally storming out of the gate. His pressure was effective to start and he hit Canelo with enough untamed hooks to force him to shell up into a corner within the first minute. After letting Kirkland throw enough punches to enforce a small breather, Canelo landed a left hook that wobbled James and, a few seconds later with Kirkland against the ropes, Canelo dropped him with a straight right hand. He was hurt and, after enduring more punishment from the body shots Canelo ripped in the final minute, Kirkland barely survived the round with the bell saving him from referee Jon Schorle waving off the fight.
The grueling first round parlayed a slow start for Kirkland in the second. Fifteen seconds into it, a big left hook knocked him into the ropes and he stood there helplessly as Canelo threw everything at him. Just as Schorle inched closer, again anticipating to stop the bout, Kirkland maneuvered back to the middle of the ring and landed a few punches that slowed Canelo’s pace. While Canelo had seemingly taken a short breather from his earlier dispensing of punches, Kirkland physically forced Canelo to the ropes with his body and returned the favor. Yet Canelo didn’t let Kirkland get too much momentum and took advantage of the big window James left open to his body all night.
The entire fight was fought in the proverbial phone booth and even though he lacked any defense or head movement, Kirkland had the courage and will to step into it with Canelo. Two minutes into the third, Kirkland leaned in to throw a left and Canelo pulled his weight back to elude the punch. In the same motion, he threw a counter right uppercut that took Kirkland’s legs away and sent him to the canvas a second time. After Kirkland beat the 10-count, Canelo smelled blood. Forced up against the ropes seconds later, Kirkland started to throw a left hook but before he could even channel it, Canelo landed a perfect right hand to his chin. The shot turned Kirkland around because of his own intended punch and he crashed hard to the canvas as his unconscious body failed to anticipate the impact. The fight was clearly over and Schorle obliged by immediately waving his arms.
“Fighting a guy like Kirkland, a man that comes to fight, are opponents I like to fight and that I love,” Canelo said in the post-fight interview with HBO’s Max Kellerman. The question that preceded the answer brought up Canelo’s last opponent, Erislandy Lara, whose Cuban boxing style didn’t mix well with his, thus providing a unpleasant contest to many, including the Mexican. Canelo, 45-1-1 (32), got the action fight he had been craving the past year or so and he delivered a great performance that entertained everyone – including himself. It’s not the biggest win for the 24-year old Mexican superstar but it was a demonstration of what he can bring to the table. Kirkland, 32-2 (28), did exactly what he had planned: Get into a brawl with Canelo. Although he was stopped early, his fearlessness contributed to a pleasing fight but it won’t be a fight to refer to on his ledger when it’s all said and done.
For those underwhelmed by the precipitated “Fight of the Century” that took place just a week ago, Golden Boy Promotions’ Canelo-Kirkland cured the disappointing hangover in the small amount of time allotted. Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs. Manny Pacquiao was even replayed before the fight on HBO as a contrasting reminder of what we were about to watch in Houston. Much like the chilled, red Bloody Mary the morning after a drunken stupor, the red-headed Alvarez alleviated the shakes that a majority of fans felt after the pay-per-view on May 2. Refreshing to say the least and a reminder of how exciting a conflict in the ring can be without all the skills and tactics masters of the Sweet Science produce. It’s not the safest way the sport can be displayed but neither is a Bloody Mary for your hangover cure.