By Nick Tywalk
It figures that on a night when work prevented me from doing a live round-by-round blog for the Alfredo Angulo-James Kirkland fight, I missed out on covering what was possibly the most exciting televised boxing match of 2011. For some reason, though, I was free during the Chad Dawson-Bernard Hopkins debacle. Like I said, figures.
Hopefully you were lucky enough to catch Kirkland's impressive sixth-round stoppage of Angulo live as it happened. Actually, impressive may not be strong enough a word, considering that:
- Kirkland looked like crap in his first TV appearance of this year, when he was knocked out in shockingly easy fashion by Nobuhiro Ishida, a guy who isn't exactly the second coming of Mike Tyson.
- Angulo almost knocked out Kirkland with the very first significant punch he landed, a right hand that brought up memories of the Ishida fight all over again.
- Angulo had never even been knocked down before, much less knocked out.
- The fight was taking place in Angulo's native Mexico, someplace where, let's face it, Kirkland was unlikely to get much love from the judges had the fight gone the distance.
Sometimes we boxing fans make too much of a single victory when boxers are on the comeback trail, too quick to declare that guys are definitively back. I don't think that's an issue here. Kirkland isn't just back, he's probably at the best place he's ever been in his career after a performance like that. Despite the fact that his flaws are still pretty obvious, he's got both the power and heart to capture the imaginations of plenty of viewers.
He's also in a division with plenty of opportunities for fan-friendly match-ups. There's Canelo Alvarez, the Miguel Cotto-Antonio Margarito rematch winner, plus guys like Pawel Wolak and Vanes Martirosyan a little further down the list. I'd tune in to watch Kirkland fight any of those gentlemen - and I'll make sure my schedule is clear next time.
As for Angulo, he showed something too, continuing to battle even though he was getting pummeled and looking weaker with each passing round. Perro is always going to present a dangerous challenge, but after seeing him get foiled by just a medium amount of movement and boxing by Kermit Cintron a few years ago and now pounded out by Kirkland, it may be time to declare that his ceiling is below the very top guys. There's certainly no shame in that, and he'll definitely stay in the mix for big fights because he brings action to the table.
Other thoughts from the weekend in boxing:
* Glen Johnson disagreed, of course, but Lucian Bute had as easy a time as anyone has with the Road Warrior en route to a very wide UD. As Michael Woods of TheSweetScience.com and ESPN pointed out, we still have no idea if Bute is truly the best in the world at 168 pounds, and we aren't going to find out until next year. If Bute doesn't face the Andre Ward-Carl Froch winner in the first half of 2012... well, it won't be as sad as not seeing Manny Pacquiao-Floyd Mayweather, but it will still rank pretty high on my list of boxing disappointments.
* And to end things on a lighter note, check out this short Boxrec piece where Ian McNeilly bemoans the fact that Manny Pacquiao refused to knock out Piers Morgan in a segment filmed for Morgan's show that saw the two men step in the ring together. That segment will appear on "Piers Morgan Tonight" on Friday as part of what will no doubt be a massive late blitz of publicity for Pacquiao-Marquez III.
Get more great boxing news and analysis over at Boxing Watchers.