By: William Holmes
Minute Maid Park in Houston, Texas was the host site for tonight’s HBO World Championship Boxing telecast as Saul “Canelo” Alvarez took on James “Mandingo” Kirkland in the junior middleweight division.
Fight fans had to sit through twelve rounds of disappointing action between last week’s mega fight between Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao, which saw Mayweather win a clear and decisive decision.
The crowd was decidedly pro Canelo and James Kirkland was without longtime trainer Anne Wolfe in his corner.
James Kirkland (32-1) and Canelo Alvarez (44-1-1) met in the center of the ring and it was Kirkland who landed the first straight left of the night. He later followed it with another straight left and several body punches.
James Kirkland came rushing to the center of the ring at the start of the first round and started banging to the body and kept the fight in tight. Canelo was able to land a few hard right hands in return, but Kirkland was pressing the pace and landing shots to the body and head of Canelo. Canelo ripped two straight right hands followed by a right uppercut, but Kirkland only smiled and motioned Canelo to come at him. Canelo did come forward and land more hooks to the body and head of Kirkland and sent Kirkland to the mat with a right hand to the head of Kirkland. Canelo also had Kirkland badly staggered from a four punch combination as the first round came to an end.
Kirkland started off aggressive in the second round and connected with an early straight left to Canelo’s chin. Canelo responded quickly with a right uppercut that sent Kirkland backwards into the ropes and stayed covered up while Canelo continued to punish. Kirkland was able to turn the tide in his favor in the second half of the second round and was pushing punches through the guard of Canelo. Kirkland switched from southpaw to orthodox near the middle of the round and outworked Canelo, but also had to take some vicious body shots in return.
The intense action continued into the third round as Kirkland thudded left hooks to the body of Canelo and was non-stop punches at his guard. Canelo looked like he was starting to be worn down when he suddenly landed a four punch combination followed by a right uppercut on an advancing James Kirkland that sent him down for the second time of the night. Kirkland was able to get back to his feet but was only met with a jab to the body followed by a crushing right hook that knocked Kirkland immediately out.
Canelo Alvarez knocked out James Kirkland at 2:19 of the third round and put on a hell of a show in the process.