At the Minute Maid Park, Houston, Texas, it’s true the favorite on paper got the win. How that victory came about, however, was a little more shocking. Saul Alvarez had his hands full with James Kirkland inside an action-packed 3-rounder, but managed to drop his foe three times. The final concussive blow left Kirkland slumped on the floor, out cold. Referee Jon Schorle wasted no time counting, ending the fight at 2:19.
The fight demonstrated just how violent and dangerous the sport can be. Especially if you plan on charging forward into a smart, calculating fighter like Alvarez. The 24-year-old star took part in a fight which has given boxing a necessary adrenaline shot following the mediocre Mayweather vs Pacquiao.
Following the victory, Alvarez continues his post-Mayweather winning streak, now climbing to 45 wins, 1 loss, 1 draw, 32 knockouts. Kirkland will return to Austin with 32 wins, 2 losses, 28 knockouts.
If fight fans were after fireworks in Texas, they got ’em. And in abundance, too.
Following the chime of the first bell, Kirkland wasted not a second getting into Alvarez’s chest and throwing with vicious intent. Hooks, straights, uppercuts – it was flying. And making Alvarez uncomfortable on the ropes during the first half of the opening round. But the tables soon turned when Alvarez found his range, plant his feet, and threw some sickening combinations up and downstairs.
It wasn’t long before an accurate right-hand crunched into the side of Kirkland’s jaw, dropping the Texan. Kirkland rose to fight on, and somehow made it to the bell despite taking full-blooded, staggering shots.
In the 2nd, Kirkland again surprised spectators but recovering enough to charge forward and chop away at Alvarez. But in this round, as in the tail-end of that previous, it was becoming increasingly clear that Alvarez’s smarts were going to pay dividends. Coupled with his power, it seemed this battle could end at any minute or second.
The 3rd round saw Alvarez truly capitalize on Kirkland’s predictable attack and inept defense. The Mexican dropped Kirkland hard from a counter-uppercut, elevating the crowd’s excitement. Kirkland regained his feet once more. But it wasn’t long before the final fight-ending punch landed.
Alvarez launched a looping right-hand-counter at a rope-bound Kirkland. Not long after meeting the Texan’s chin, it disconnected Kirkland’s senses, punching his ticket to the canvas.
The knockout was akin to Carl Froch’s finishing blow on George Groves in their rematch. But unlike on that occasion, Kirkland was not about to get up anytime soon, let alone beat the 10-count like Groves did. Needless to say, referee Jon Schorle immediately called in a ringside physician.
This was a brave, courageous showing from Kirkland, but a night that belonged to Alvarez. It was a monster performance, and one that will feature on ‘Canelo’s’ knockout reel with immediate effect. It will of course be shortlisted for Knockout of the Year in many publications. (see Alvarez vs Kirkland Fight Highlights)
Post fight, one should be thinking of who’s next for Mexico’s finest young fighter at 154. But it turns out the boxing fandom is currently more fixated on discussing Alvarez’s chances against Middleweight giant Gennady Golovkin. BoxingBase.com is stuck on that train, too.
It’s premature to contemplate, sure. But that fight really gets you thinking. Both fighters are a different breed, but share some unmistakable similarities. Both are boxer-punchers, technically-minded, and love to work the body with thunderous, rib-breakers. Alvarez may not be a master of pressure like Golovkin, but perhaps that doesn’t matter. His opportunistic style could well lead to him landing some telling blows through those zipping counters.
Enough from us. What’s your take on Alvarez vs Kirkland? Was this a monster performance, or just what was expected against an all-offensive, reckless slugger like Kirkland? Fire away in the comments, fight fans!
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