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On Saturday, May 9, 2015, boxing fans were treated to an intense three-round battle, which featured two combatants who were ready to entertain a lively crowd of over 31,000 at Minute Maid Park in Houston, TX.
The short-lived fight provided punches-in-bunches, blood, knockdowns and a highlight reel knockout that may end up being the KO of the Year for 2015.
After testing our patience with a full replay of “The Fight of the Century,” HBO got right into the Canelo Alvarez vs. James Kirkland main event at around 10:30 pm, EST, which for us east coast viewers was a welcomed early-start treat.
With the opening bout between Frankie Gomez and Humberto Soto being scrapped from the card by Golden Boy Promotions–due to Gomez’s inability to make weight–the pressure was all on Canelo and Kirkland to deliver a memorable performance.
The fight between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao left many people with a sour taste in their mouth, not only because of what happened–or better yet what didn’t happen–inside the ring for 12 rounds, but also because of the “shoulder gate” aftermath.
With the social media backlash fully focusing on Mayweather and Pacquiao, Oscar De La Hoya used every platform he could to promote Canelo-Kirkland as the real fight everyone had been waiting for, and the one that would please fans from start to finish.
Not surprisingly, De La Hoya was 100 percent correct.
Boxing–especially in today’s media-driven world–is a sport that offers a long, drawn out narrative before any major fight. We get to see press conferences, documentary specials, Instagram photo edits, YouTube highlight reels and much more.
By the time two given fighters get into the ring, we’re usually sick of hearing about what each fighter plans to do and just want to see them actually do it. A little hype and a storyline doesn’t hurt, but the problem is that all too often we don’t even get an ounce of what we were promised during the build up to a fight.
When, “I’m going to rip his head off,” turns into a 12-round waltz, even the most devoted fans are left shaking their heads in disgust.
Perhaps that’s why boxing fans were so anxious to see Canelo vs. Kirkland. We knew that the pre-fight talks weren’t just another batch of empty promises.
Once the opening bell rang, it didn’t take long to see that this was going to be the barn-burner we were promised. For better or worse, Kirkland immediately charged Canelo, bobbing and weaving, shooting and landing lead left hands.
20 seconds into the fight, Kirkland had already pushed Canelo against the ropes and was squared up, throwing everything in his arsenal.
After weathering Kirkland’s early onslaught, it was Canelo who opened up on offense and began tagging “The Mandingo Warrior” at will. It looked as if Kirkland would not survive the first round after he was dropped by a hard right hand, but to his credit he was able to get out of the first round still standing.
As soon as the first round ended, Jim Lampley enthusiastically belted out, “More action in the first round here than in 12 rounds last Saturday night.” Good ol’ Lamps was sitting on that one for a minute, but in all honesty, so were most Mayweather-Pacquiao detractors.
After stunning Kirkland with a barrage of power punches to start Round 2, Roy Jones Jr. excitedly proclaimed that this was, “Mexican Style at its best.”
The end came one round later, as Alvarez finished off the defenseless Kirkland in devastating fashion with a picturesque right hook that landed smack dab on the button and detached Kirkland from his senses, laying him out flat on his back.
The crowd roared with approval, and just like that, boxing was back.
But, let’s be serious, boxing was never gone, dead or forgotten. In fact, what’s happening now is actually really exciting–future stars are emerging.
Canelo Alvarez is a bonafide star. The man has the ability to pack 30,000 to 40,000 people into an arena and has the style to please even the most casual of fans. Best of all, he’s only 24 years old and has the desire to take on any and every challenge.
And speaking of challenges, there is a serious one lurking in the shadows in the form of Middleweight badass, Gennady Golovkin.
When asked about a potential fight with the Kazakh crusher after his victory over Kirkland, Canelo said what we’ve grown accustomed to hearing from him when a new challenger is mentioned, “Yes, why not?”
De La Hoya was a bit more prudent with his post-fight remarks, saying that while the fight is a potential blockbuster bout, it’s not going to happen just yet.
“In a year and a half to two years down the road, GGG-Canelo will surpass any kind of number and hype that last week’s fight [Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs. Manny Pacquiao] had, and they will guarantee action. The world knows that GGG vs. Canelo will be a super mega fight,” per Boxing News 24.
De La Hoya’s comments make sense given the fact that Canelo has never fought at 160 pounds and he’s still very young. Also, there is a very lucrative matchup that could happen versus Middleweight champion, Miguel Cotto, if the Puerto Rican fighter is able to defeated Daniel Geale in June.
Again, the good thing is that Canelo wants them all. Line ’em up and he’ll do his damnedest to knock ’em down.
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Golovkin is a machine who has scored 19 consecutive knockout victories. He is undoubtedly a fan favorite, and if you haven’t seen him fight before, you’re in luck because this Saturday, May 16, Golovkin takes on slick southpaw, Willie Monroe Jr. live on HBO.
Golovkin has adopted the fan-friendly Mexican style, thanks in part to his trainer Abel Sanchez, and in turn has been welcomed with open arms by the legion of Mexican fight fans.
GGG has been the hottest thing in boxing as of late–thanks to his KO streak which includes his impressive stoppage victory over Martin Murray earlier this year–but with his third-round blitzing of Kirkland, Canelo has made the first major play of 2015 in terms of being named TBE: The Best Entertainer.
Two interesting things about Golovkin’s next challenger are that he can box/move well and that he is a southpaw.
We know Golovkin can blast guys like Matthew Macklin, Curtis Stevens and Marco Antonio Rubio into another stratosphere, but what a crafty boxer like Monroe?
Could Monroe frustrate Golovkin with angles and movement like Erislandy Lara did to Canelo? We’ll find out in a few days, but if Golovkin is able to extend his KO streak against “The Mongoose,” he’ll solidify his case as TBE.
And as long as Canelo and Golovkin keep winning in impressive fashion, it seems likely that we’ll be treated to an all-out Mexican style fight within the next couple of years to settle who is the best entertainer.
Header photo by Ed Mulholland/Golden Boy Promotions/Getty Images