With HBO replaying the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight and having the co-main event between Humberto Soto and Frankie Gomez being scrapped at the last minute, Saul “Canelo” Alvarez and James Kirkland had a sizable burden to bear as the only fight being televised. Luckily for fight fans, what transpired inside Minute Maid Park in downtown Houston culminated in an early candidate for the knockout of the year.
Canelo wasted little time in rocking Kirkland with a short left hand. Moments later, Kirkland was climbing back to his feet courtesy of a perfect right hand and it was clear that the end was just around the corner. Still, the Austin fighter never backed down and swung for the fences, trying to turn the tides on the popular Mexican star.
Alvarez was too smooth and accurate for Kirkland, though, as he repeatedly clipped the American with almost every punch. Kirkland was virtually out on his feet at the end of the first round and if there were a few seconds left, veteran referee Jon Schorle likely would have stopped the bombardment.
Kirkland tried to seize control in the second, but he was wobbled early and often. While fighting back bravely, he was out-gunned in every aspect. Still, he made it a war and like a true Mexican warrior, Canelo obliged by going toe-to-toe.
Kirkland fought his way back into the fight early in the third when he pressed his foe into the ropes and hammered away at the head and body. Alvarez mostly defended, only sometimes countering. But once Kirkland backed off, Canelo sprung into attack mode and ended the contest.
A sizzling Alvarez right uppercut through the guard sent Kirkland to his knees midway through the frame. Kirkland was buzzed and climbed back to his feet at Schorle’s count of eight, but once he was allowed to continue, he was too woozy to stay off the ropes. Kirkland, in a last-ditch effort, tried to unfurl a left hook, but Canelo had already detonated a bomb of a right hand. Kirkland was immediately removed from consciousness and fell onto his side.
It was as crushing a knockout as one will ever see.
Schorle never bothered to count; Kirkland (32-2, 28 KOs) was completely out cold, stiffened on his back. Canelo’s highlight reel knockout came at 2:19 of the third, allowing him to improve to 45-1-1 with 32 KOs.
“Kirkland is a great fighter and we knew he was going to come in and throw power punches,” a jubilant Alvarez said afterward. “Fighting a man like Kirkland, who comes to fight, is what I love and what the fans love.”
However, the focus for the Guadalajara native’s future was targeted at two specific fighters: Miguel Cotto and Gennady Golovkin, both of whom have fights coming in the next few weeks.
“I’m ready for anyone; I don’t run from anybody,” Canelo said when asked about Cotto. But when pressed about fighting Golovkin next, Canelo was adamant. “Why not? He’s a great champion. He’s a great warrior and he’s the type of fighter I like.”
All Cotto and “GGG” need to do now is win their upcoming matches. If either square off against Canelo later in the year, it’ll be a win for the sport of boxing.
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