Former 154-pound contender James Kirkland rebounded from a first-round TKO loss to Nobuhiro Ishida in April by battering Alfredo Angulo, THE RING’s No. 2-rated junior middleweight, to a thrilling and brutal sixth-round stoppage in an HBO-televised slugfest from Cancun, Mexico, on Saturday.
The showdown between the aggressive fighters was as good — perhaps better — as fans anticipated.
Kirkland (30-1, 27 knockouts) pressed and swarmed Angulo into a corner in the opening seconds of the fight was but was dropped by a counter right hand before one minute had elapsed. However the 27-year-old southpaw from Austin, Texas, got up and returned fire until Angulo was rocked and dropped himself, just before the bell.
Angulo (20-2, 17 KOs) got up and survived the round, but he did so on very unsteady legs. From the second round on, Kirkland dominated and punished the 29-year-old Mexican Olympian from Mexicali, Mexico.
That Angulo, who looked like he was fighting under water because of how slow his movements were, survived until the sixth round was an amazing feat of endurance. Kirkland pounded his body and heads with more than a hundred accurate power punches. The referee’s stoppage probably saved Angulo’s life.
“Training hard, that’s what happened,” Kirkland said when asked of his assesment of the fight. “I put everything on the line when I step into the ring. I want to give the fans what they want.”
He did that and more. He helped give fans the round of the year and perhaps the fight of the year. Kirkland also jump-started his career.
A post fight column by Ryan Songalia will be posted later.