THE BEAUTY OF BOXING
Fights like James Kirkland vs Alfredo Angulo are why boxing is the best sport one earth. I’m stumbling to find where this ranks in boxing history, but the mere fact that it all but promised to deliver and then did MORE than expected leaves me speechless. While boxing has its memorable wars, what are the top 5 fights that had as much hype and then delivered more than advertised? — JB
The top five high-profile fights that looked awesome on paper and still managed to exceed all expectations that I’ve had the honor of covering are as follows:
1. Israel Vazquez-Rafael Marquez III
2. Diego Corrales-Jose Luis Castillo I
3. Marco Antonio Barrera-Erik Morales I
4. Juan Manuel Marquez-Juan Diaz I
5. Johnny Tapia-Paulie Ayala I
Great fights that delivered more than advertised that I didn’t cover but watched on TV from home, a friend’s house or a bar (where I had the extreme pleasure of jumping out of my seat and cheering like a lunatic) include: Arturo Gatti-Micky Ward I, Wladimir Klitschko-Lamon Brewster I, and that badass scrap we all witnessed Saturday night from Cancun, Mexico.
BRING ON MARTINEZ!
After what I saw last night, Mexico better keep Canelo Alvarez away from James Kirkland because he would get destroyed. Kirkland is the best junior middleweight in the world and if he can’t get any of the junior middleweights to fight him, he should go north and fight Sergio Martinez. Lou Da Bully is saying there’s no one out there for Martinez, well give James a chance. Martinez would have his hands full with a non-stop pressure fighter like Kirkland and I don’t think he’s dealt with that kind of whirlwind since he was knocked out by Antonio Margarito. Plus, Martinez is no spring chicken and James is HUNGRY! — Tyler
Kirkland was nothing short of spectacular on Saturday. He out-badassed a card-carrying badass in thrilling fashion. However, born-again Kirkland fans should no get carried away. Yes, he proved to be the best 154-pound fighter on the planet, but that doesn’t mean he can beat the best 154-pound boxers around. I don’t think I’d pick him over Sergei Dzinziruk or Erislandy Lara or even Austin Trout (who finally gets some much-deserved TV exposure on ShoBox this Friday).
Put him in there with Paul Williams, Vanes Martirosyan or Alvarez, and yeah, he’ll get my pick. However, those fights won’t be a walk in the park for Kirkland. Williams can match Kirkland’s frenetic pace and insane punch output. Martirosyan can trouble “Mandingo” with his hand speed and lateral movement. And Canelo might still be wet behind the ears but, unlike Angulo, the kid can do more than one thing in the ring. Alvarez actually tries to defend himself in there (something Angulo and Kirkland don’t really care to do) and he won’t march forward if it doesn’t suit him. He can move a bit and counter-punch well. If Kirkland fought Angulo now, he’d overwhelm Canelo, but I think it would be a fight. A year from now, I might go with Alvarez.
You say Martinez is no spring chicken but you’re just looking at his age. The middleweight champ has taken far less punishment during his 50-plus fights than Kirkland has during his 31 pro bouts. Plus, the way James trains puts a lot of wear and tear on his body.
While I understand your excitement with Kirkland, I gotta disagree with your take on a possible matchup with Martinez. I think Martinez takes him to school before he takes him out. And I don’t think DiBella would shy away from that match up at all. (Referring to Lou as “Da Bully” gave me flashbacks to when the great Michael Katz was penning columns for HouseofBoxing and MaxBoxing. Nice going!)
By the way, I’m not trying to piss on your parade. If you think Kirkland’s the man at 154 and 160 pounds, by all means declare it to the universe. I don’t have a problem with your opinion. I just don’t agree with it.
ANGULO GOT ANGULO’D
I was very impressed with Lucian Bute even if Glen Johnson is 42 and coming down in weight. I don’t know what Johnson was talking about in the post fight interview, but he looked very off balanced throughout the fight. For a guy coming down in weight he looked so small in comparison to Bute. Bute is a big super middleweight and has very heavy hands. Before the fight I didn’t really take Bute too seriously, but now I’m a fan. I’d like to see him in with Carl Froch or Andre Ward. I’d slightly favor both of these guys, but I I believe it’s a toss up. Some great fights to look forward to in the Super Middleweight.
After watching the Angulo-Kirkland first round all I could think about was Hagler-Hearns, Gatti-Ward, Corrales-Castillo. Best round I’ve seen in a long time. Kirkland looked like a man on a mission and gave Angulo a dose of his own medicine. He wore Angulo down. Angulo completely blew his load in the first round and he was done. I really don’t think it would have mattered either way. Kirkland in my opinion simply was not losing. I can’t think of another fighter who has the beard that Angulo has. This guy takes bombs and keeps coming. Can’t be good for you.
Where do these guys go from here? Wherever it is a lot more fans will be watching. Rematch? I’m not sure, but right now I’m feeling not. Maybe after a fight or two for both guys. Thoughts? — Michael, NYC
Both guys definitely need a rest before they are allowed to get into the ring against each other, especially Angulo. “El Perro” didn’t just receive a career-shortening beating, that was LIFE-shortening punishment he absorbed in rounds three through six.
I can’t fathom how either man did what they did Saturday night. I don’t know how Kirkland rallied back as hard as he did after getting dropped in the first round (he was totally disconnected on impact with Perro’s right hand) and I cringe just thinking about the inhuman beating Angulo sucked up for a number of rounds. I was and continue to be in awe of both warriors.
I think Golden Boy Promotions will keep Kirkland busy, because that’s what he needs to do to stay sharp (and out of trouble), but I know they won’t schedule an immediate showdown with Canelo. I think Kirkland will fight again in January or February against a mid-level fighter, perhaps someone reasonably solid with a decent record like Michel Rosales, and then GBP will stick him on a PPV undercard in the spring (perhaps underneath Floyd Mayweather’s May return) against a name opponent, such as Ricardo Mayorga (which would probably be a big enough fight to bill it as a co-feature). If Kirkland and Canelo continue to win fan may be treated to their showdown late in 2012 (if an Alvarez-Chavez Jr. bout can’t be made).
Angulo also needs to be active, but his first fight or two back might need to be with rank journeymen just so GBP can gauge where he’s at after Saturday’s God-awful beating. I think after two come-back bouts we might see him in with a sturdy fringe contender, such as Rigoberto Alvarez or Saul Roman, by the late summer. If he looks like the Perro of old, I think he’ll be back in the 154-pound picture by the fall of 2012.
We’re probably in the minority, but I was also impressed with Bute’s performance on Saturday. I thought he’d have to stick-and-move to dominate Johnson but he did so by staying in front of the hardnosed vet and he even pressed the Road Warrior in the late rounds.
I would also slightly favor Ward or Froch against Bute, but I think both fights would be highly competitive and I would not be surprised if the rangy southpaw won. Nobody is going to have an easy night with that guy. He’s got too much talent, smarts, size, speed and experience.