By Peter Lim
Coming on the heels of Canelo-Kirkland, the so-called Fight of the Century turned out to be the missed opportunity of the century for the sport of boxing. Had Mayweather-Pacquiao even remotely lived up to its hype, its momentum might very well have compelled many a casual fan to watch the genuinely explosive match-up that is Canelo-Kirkland and perhaps generated a new batch of lifelong sweet science converts. Instead, the humdrum, anticlimactic outcome of the richest fight in boxing history probably rendered the general public turned off and tuned out, relegating this potential Fight of the Year to a marginalized audience of diehard boxing fans and patriotic Mexicans.
Fire and Ice
Canelo-Kirkland is analogous to a collision course between a massive glacier and a raging wild fire. We've seen the cool, calculating and versatile Canelo box with boxers and brawl with brawlers, beating both at their own game. Mature beyond his years, no other boxer except his lone conqueror, Floyd Mayweather Jr., can adapt and adjust to his opponents' style as well as Canelo.
Kirkland, on the other hand, only knows how to fight one way and that is all out war. Not only is he a relentless high-volume puncher, he also packs mind-numbing punching power. There isn't anything too cerebral about his game plan; he blasts away with both fists with uncompromising ferocity until the other man wilts, and it has worked for him in all but two of his 33 fights.
The two fights that Kirkland was unable to impose his will on his opponents came against two relatively light hitters - Nobuhiro Ishida and Carlos Molina. In the Ishida fight, Kirkland was caught cold, dropped three times and stopped in the first round. Against Molina, he was outboxed and befuddled but was spared a second defeat when Molina was dubiously disqualified in the tenth round.
Canelo has never faced anyone as dangerous as Kirkland before, but all in all, Kirkland's weaknesses play more into Canelo's strengths than vice versa. Moreover, Kirkland will be coming off a 17-month layoff and will be fighting without long-time trainer Ann Wolf in his corner for the first time since the Ishida disaster.
See this blogger's prediction for Canelo-Kirkland at peterliminator.blogspot.com.
Several members of Houston's boxing fraternity weighed in on Canelo-Kirkland
Juan Diaz, (40-4, 19 KOs), former triple-crown lightweight titleholder
like a young lion now who hasn't been hurt like Kirkland. We've seen
Kirkland hurt and he cannot take a punch. Even though he's a knockout
artist, once he get's touched, he's going down. I believe that Canelo's
going to feel Kirkland's power but as soon as Kirland feels Canelo's
power, he's going to fall like he normally does in big fights. I believe
Canelo's going to stop Kirkland in five."
Lou Savarese, promoter and former heavyweight contender
like Canelo who has gotten better with every fight. Kirkland is a guy
who puts everything on the line and will knock you out or gets knocked
out. It'll go to a decision, it'll be an exciting fight but I like
Canelo to win it."
Rocky Juarez, (30-11-1, 21 KOs), 2000 Olympic silver medalist and five time world title challenger
going to win in less than six. The reason I believe that is because he
starts off quick and the only loss that Kirkland has suffered was from
first round stoppage. You've got to catch him cold because once Kirkland
gets started he's a relentless and dangerous fighter."
Edwin Rodriguez, (26-1, 17 KOs), super middleweight contender
going to be a good fight. I think it's going to be a unanimous decision
for Canelo. Kirkland brings a lot of pressure but the thing about
Kirkland is you don't know which one is going to show up."
Frank Tate, trainer, 1984 Olympic gold medalist, former IBF titleholder
"The first one to land is going to be the winner. I'm going with Canelo."
Ronnie Shields, trainer at Plex Gym
"I'll say Canelo by disputed decision."
Bobby Benton, trainer at Main Boxing Gym
"I think Canelo wins pretty easily."
Juan Lopez, trainer at Lopez Boxing
the deficiencies in Kirkland's technique - he gets hit, he's careless -
is going to catch up. I think Canelo's going to stop him. It's
going to be a knockout in six or seven rounds."
Result and Aftermath:
The dynamic, fire-and-ice clash of styles
aside, there were numerous intangibles that added to the pre-fight
intrigue of Canelo-Kirkland. Could Alvarez withstand Kirkland's punching
power or be fazed by his uncompromising ferocity? Would Kirkland be as
destructive and well-conditioned after a 17-month layoff and without Ann
Wolfe in his corner? Was his chin was frail as it appeared in his
disastrous knockout loss to Ishida or was that an aberration
considering he had survived the punches of harder-hitting fighters?
those question marks were erased after the first round. As expected,
Kirkland (32-2, 28 KOs) came out fast and strong,forcing the fight into
the trenches while unleashing a fusillade of punches upstairs and down
from his southpaw stance. Back against the ropes, Alvarez (45-1-1, 32
KOs) took a few direct hits but absorbed most of
the incoming fire on his arms and gloves, and stemmed the onslaught by
tying Kirkland up in a clinch.
When the action resumed, it
was Alvarez's turn to go on the offensive. While there was little method
to madness in Kirkland's attack, Alvarez's assault was calculated but
no less violent. Clinically timing Kirkland with pinpoint straight
rights and left hooks, Alvarez stopped Kirkland in his tracks before he
could close the distance and resume his blitzkrieg. A left hook to the
body followed by a straight right to the chin dropped Kirkland along the
The writing was on the wall after that; Kirkland had
revealed his full hand in the opening round, while Alvarez still had a
few cards up his sleeve, and both men seemed to know it.
"When I dropped him the first time, I knew I had him," Alvarez said.
went for broke in the second round, gunning for Alvarez with reckless
abandon only to run into solid counters that came in the form of hooks,
crosses and uppercuts from both sides and at all angles. Alvarez
viciously zeroed in to the body when Kirkland missed and overextended
his punches. Still, Kirkland courageously pressed the action and landed a sporadic flush shot that kept the fight interesting.
the third round, Kirkland seemed gassed but nevertheless went through
the motions of throwing inconsequential punches in bunches that Alvarez
casually deflected and dodged, biding his time and waiting for the right
moment to pounce. That moment came when Kirkland dipped smack
into a perfectly-timed right uppercut that dropped him to his knees. He
beat the count on wobbly legs and Alvarez went in for the kill. Offense,
being Kirkland's only means of defense, he swung at Alvarez with a right hook only to be beaten to the punch by a curling right
that caught him clean on the jaw and knocked him out cold at the 2:19
mark of the round.