Kirkland outblasts Angulo for 6th Rd TKO

By Paul Strauss: Just about anyone asked about this fight thought it would never go the distance. No chance when you have two risk taking big punchers like James "Mandingo Warrior" Kirkland 29-1 (26) and Alfredo "Perro" Angulo 20-1 (17), who squared off for HBO at the Centre de Cancun, Cancun, Quintana Roo, Mexico. Everyone expected lots of fireworks and excitement and they got their wish. The two bangers came right at each other at the sound of the opening bell.

Southpaw Kirkland landed the first hard punches, and Angulo was driven back against the ropes. Angulo expected it and was ready. Kirkland continued throwing bombs from every angle, many of which were getting through to Angulo's body and bouncing off his head. Unfazed, Angulo kept his cool, and through the onslaught looked for the opportunity he knew would be there. When he saw it, bam, he shot through a crisp, straight right hand that landed right on the button, and down went Kirkland straight back and on his butt. It was only thirty seconds into the fight. Oh my!

Now the question......Did this mean fans were going to witness a repeat of Kirkland's TKO loss to Nobuhiro Ishida last April? Or, was his reconnect with bootcamp like trainer Ann Wolfe going to provide him with the mental and physical strength he needed to overcome such adversity? Boxing great Jack Dempsey once said, "Champions get up when they can't!" Well, getting up this time wasn't going to be enough. Kirkland proved it wasn't enough in his upset loss to Ishida. No, Kirkland was going to have to do more, much more to survive "Perro"s" attack.

Kirkland had another problem. When hurt, he doesn't know how to clinch. Until the Ishida upset, he never needed to know how. It was always the other guy who was looking to hold. Unfortunately for Kirkland, it was evident against Angulo that he still hadn't learned this self preservation technique. As a result, Angulo battered him every which way. It looked as though the end was close at hand. Certainly one of Angulo's many shots would get through cleaning, and that would be the end for Kirkland, and result in another hugely disappointing loss.

But wait, the warrior in Mandingo wouldn't let it happen again. It was just for such a moment that tough minded Ann Wolfe had trained Kirkland. She made sure that nothing Angulo could do was any worse than what she'd already put James through in training camp. Under her direction, she convinced James that human beings are capable of super human feats if they're in the right frame of mind.

Ann also taught James that another key ingredient with fighters, is of course that they have to be in superior physical shape. It's true what Vince Lombardi said, "Fatigue makes cowards of us all." Wolfe made sure that fatigue wasn't going to be Kirkland's problem. He wasn't going to be beaten because he wasn't in shape.

As a result, Kirkland was able to draw on that knowledge. It gave him confidence, realizing he could weather the storm, and let Angulo punch himself out. Kirkland did just that. Gradually he came back, cleared his head, and regained control of the action. Angulo had definitely punched himself out. He was arm and leg weary. His punches were strictly arm swings, without any speed or crispness to them. When things were reversed, ;Angulo soon found he was too far into that pit of exhaustion to ward off Kirkland. He became a victim of a warrior storm, and was experiencing a temporary power outage. He just couldn't keep Mandingo off of him, and he couldn't keep his hands up. Before the first round ended, Angulo was on the canvas, and in worse shape than Kirkland had just been.

Angulo looked dilapidated, and was ripe for a big Kirkland left. When it came, it put him down hard. He looked to be in poor fettle. It looked as though substitute trainer Nacho Beristein might not even have the opportunity to impart any of his wisdom between rounds. The fight might not last through the first round. Alfredo might not last that long! But, he pulled a Dempsey too and got up when he couldn't. Now, the question switched to him. Sure he got up, but was he going to be able to keep his head and recover?. If so, would Nacho be able to give him the same kind of (threat) motivation that Wolfe provided to James?.

A nice problem to have with a fight like this is how do you score such a round? Mandatory numbers just don't fit a first round like this one. When you're asked, "Who won the first round, you should admit, "I don't know, it's was brutal!" The rest of the fight was brutal too, but more one-sided. Kirkland's punches were faster, harder and more accurrate. He attacked with thought and precisionl. It was much like the 5th symphony, da da da, bam! He would tap, touch, range find, and then unleash a hard shot through the opening that he had created. He kept getting through too with hard left uppercuts and clubbing overhand lefts.

Angulo's face was soon a swollen mess. He held on for dear life at times, but he also fought back with great courage, trying to slow Kirkland down with body shots. But, he just didn't have the steam behind his shots, and his speed and timing were gone. He quickly became an tired and unsteady target. By the sixth round, Referee John Callas had seen enough. He stepped in to protect Angulo from himself, because it was obvious "Perro" wasn't going to quit. So, Callas had to do it for him, and he stopped the fight at 2:01 of the round. As the announcers described, the fight was "Absolutely extraordinary"!

Article posted on 06.11.2011

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