James Kirkland Stops Alfredo Angulo In Expected Thriller!
Last night in Mexico, light-middleweights James Kirkland and Alfredo Angulo delivered as advertised in their expected slugfest. Ahead of the WBC 154-pound eliminator, fans and experts everywhere were predicting a barnburner that could go either way. For once, a fight lived up to the hype!
Kirkland, who really had to win to avoid becoming a fighter with nowhere to go, rose to the challenge in amazing fashion, getting up from a 1st-round knockdown to batter “El Perro” into submission in the 6th. The official time was 2 minutes and one-second of the 6th. “The Mandingo Warrior” is now 30-1(27). Angulo, in being stopped for the first time in his career, fell to 20-2(17).
Photos: Roberto Fernandez – Hoganphotos/Golden Boy
Kirkland, as is his way, came out smoking in the opener, the powerful but often vulnerable southpaw looking to land his big left hand. It was the perceived tougher, more durable man who scored first blood, however, as Angulo decked Kirkland with a sharp right hand counter to the head. Instantly, fans everywhere has flashbacks to Kirkland’s shocking April loss to Nobuhiro Ishida. Only this time, Kirkland got up and held on.
Angulo made the mistake of becoming a swarmer, wasting a ton of punches. Kirkland was under real fire (with the ref even telling Kirkland he would stop the fight if he didn’t punch back - the referee actually speaking to Kirkland on a number of occasions throughout the fight for some reason), but a lot of Angulo’s shots either missed or were taken on the arms and gloves. Then, in unforgettable fashion, and after allowing Angulo to punch himself out, Kirkland came roaring back and hurt his man!
The tables had turned, and after taking three or four heavy left hands to the head Angulo was the man on the canvas. Then the bell sounded, ending a definite Round Of The Year candidate.
The battle, expected by many to be short and sweet, raged on for a further five-rounds. Kirkland was all over Angulo in the 2nd, with the 29-year-old Mexican warrior looking gassed already. 27-year-old Kirkland was firing out stiff right jabs as well as some nice left uppercuts. Angulo managed to rally off the ropes at the bell. Another excellent round.
Angulo switched to southpaw for a spell in the 3rd, as he had done briefly in the first-round. Having a touch of success, “Perro” was nevertheless feeling the pace, as was Kirkland. This one was now shaping up as a gruelling battle of attrition. They traded heavy shots towards the end of another torrid session, Angulo now bleeding from above his right eye.
Kirkland, an underrated boxer, used his skills in the 4th, totally outclassing an exhausted-looking Angulo. There were heavy, painful shots being landed by the younger man as well, however, and Angulo was starting to take a beating - only his raw courage was keeping him in there.
There was next to nothing on the shots of Angulo in the 5th, his arm punches having little effect on Kirkland. Coming and coming as he was, the Texan was breaking Mexican hearts. Caught by a couple of crisp shots to the head, Kirkland, the supposed “chinny” fighter, faked a wobble and clowned Angulo! Kirkland then punished his man on the ropes with yet more heavy-handed shots. Angulo, busted up and close to all done, was barely hanging on.
The end came swiftly in the 6th, as Kirkland pinned Angulo on the ropes and repeatedly snapped his head back with rights and lefts. The ref had seen enough and dived in. Nobody could possibly question the stoppage.
Kirkland, who came a long way towards silencing those critics who say he is unable to take a punch, is now next in line to face WBC ruler Saul “Canelo” Alvarez. Based on last night’s great win, Kirkland has a real shot in that fight.
By James Slater
Kirkland outblasts Angulo for 6th Rd TKO
Just about anyone asked about this fight thought it would never go the distance. No chance when you have two risk taking big punchers like James "Mandingo Warrior" Kirkland 29-1 (26) and Alfredo "Perro" Angulo 20-1 (17), who squared off for HBO at the Centre de Cancun, Cancun, Quintana Roo, Mexico. Everyone expected lots of fireworks and excitement and they got their wish. The two bangers came right at each other at the sound of the opening bell.
Southpaw Kirkland landed the first hard punches, and Angulo was driven back against the ropes. Angulo expected it and was ready. Kirkland continued throwing bombs from every angle, many of which were getting through to Angulo's body and bouncing off his head. Unfazed, Angulo kept his cool, and through the onslaught looked for the opportunity he knew would be there. When he saw it, bam, he shot through a crisp, straight right hand that landed right on the button, and down went Kirkland straight back and on his butt. It was only thirty seconds into the fight. Oh my!
Now the question......Did this mean fans were going to witness a repeat of Kirkland's TKO loss to Nobuhiro Ishida last April? Or, was his reconnect with bootcamp like trainer Ann Wolfe going to provide him with the mental and physical strength he needed to overcome such adversity? Boxing great JackDempsey once said, "Champions get up when they can't!" Well, getting up this time wasn't going to be enough. Kirkland proved it wasn't enough in his upset loss to Ishida. No, Kirkland was going to have to do more, much more to survive "Perro"s" attack.
Kirkland had another problem. When hurt, he doesn't know how to clinch. Until the Ishida upset, he never needed to know how. It was always the other guy who was looking to hold. Unfortunately for Kirkland, it was evident against Angulo that he still hadn't learned this self preservation technique. As a result, Angulo battered him every which way. It looked as though the end was close at hand. Certainly one of Angulo's many shots would get through cleaning, and that would be the end for Kirkland, and result in another hugely disappointing loss.
But wait, the warrior in Mandingo wouldn't let it happen again. It was just for such a moment that tough minded Ann Wolfe had trained Kirkland. She made sure that nothing Angulo could do was any worse than what she'd already put James through in training camp. Under her direction, she convinced James that human beings are capable of super human feats if they're in the right frame of mind.
Ann also taught James that another key ingredient with fighters, is of course that they have to be in superior physical shape. It's true what Vince Lombardi said, "Fatigue makes cowards of us all." Wolfe made sure that fatigue wasn't going to be Kirkland's problem. He wasn't going to be beaten because he wasn't in shape.
As a result, Kirkland was able to draw on that knowledge. It gave him confidence, realizing he could weather the storm, and let Angulo punch himself out. Kirkland did just that. Gradually he came back, cleared his head, and regained control of the action. Angulo had definitely punched himself out. He was arm and leg weary. His punches were strictly arm swings, without any speed or crispness to them. When things were reversed, ;Angulo soon found he was too far into that pit of exhaustion to ward off Kirkland. He became a victim of a warrior storm, and was experiencing a temporary power outage. He just couldn't keep Mandingo off of him, and he couldn't keep his hands up. Before the first round ended, Angulo was on the canvas, and in worse shape than Kirkland had just been.
Angulo looked dilapidated, and was ripe for a big Kirkland left. When it came, it put him down hard. He looked to be in poor fettle. It looked as though substitute trainer Nacho Beristein might not even have the opportunity to impart any of his wisdom between rounds. The fight might not last through the first round. Alfredo might not last that long! But, he pulled a Dempsey too and got up when he couldn't. Now, the question switched to him. Sure he got up, but was he going to be able to keep his head and recover?. If so, would Nacho be able to give him the same kind of (threat) motivation that Wolfe provided to James?.
A nice problem to have with a fight like this is how do you score such a round? Mandatory numbers just don't fit a first round like this one. When you're asked, "Who won the first round, you should admit, "I don't know, it's was brutal!" The rest of the fight was brutal too, but more one-sided. Kirkland's punches were faster, harder and more accurrate. He attacked with thought and precisionl. It was much like the 5th symphony, da da da, bam! He would tap, touch, range find, and then unleash a hard shot through the opening that he had created. He kept getting through too with hard left uppercuts and clubbing overhand lefts.
Angulo's face was soon a swollen mess. He held on for dear life at times, but he also fought back with great courage, trying to slow Kirkland down with body shots. But, he just didn't have the steam behind his shots, and his speed and timing were gone. He quickly became an tired and unsteady target. By the sixth round, Referee John Callas had seen enough. He stepped in to protect Angulo from himself, because it was obvious "Perro" wasn't going to quit. So, Callas had to do it for him, and he stopped the fight at 2:01 of the round. As the announcers described, the fight was "Absolutely extraordinary"!
By Paul Strauss