James Kirkland and Alfredo Angulo reenacted Stone Age festivities at the Centro de Cancun in Cancun, Mexico, last night over a handful of bloodthirsty rounds. A rampaging Kirkland survived an early knockdown to annihilate Angulo via crushing stoppage at 2:01 of the sixth round.
The carnage began almost immediately as Kirkland stormed out of his corner at the sound of the opening bell and initiated an exchange that drove Angulo across the ring. A counter right off the ropes sent Kirkland, 153, crashing less than a minute into the fight, and Kirkland looked like he was on his way to another first-round KO defeat. But he beat the count and tried his damnedest to survive as Angulo, 154, rained pitchforks on him without relent. On a few occasions it looked like referee Johnny Callas was about to step in to stop the slaughter, but Kirkland remained alert and began to score with a few well-placed counters.
Angulo, meanwhile, began to wilt from throwing so many punches, and, finally, his furious windmilling left him all but swaying. Fit as a fighter can possibly be after weeks of training with Ann Wolfe and her pickup truck, Kirkland, 27, began to hurt Angulo with sharp punches on the inside. With the round coming to a close, Kirkland drove Angulo back and hammered him to the canvas in his own corner with a combination as precise as it was violent. Although shaken, Angulo, 29, staggered to his feet almost instantaneously to take the mandatory eight. Fortunately—or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it—for Angulo, the bell sounded before Kirkland could inflict more damage.
In the second round, Angulo, Mexicali, Baja California, Mexico, looked as spry as one of the mummies of Guanajuato, and it was a ring miracle that he got through the round without crumbling into ashes. It was a lopsided round for Kirkland, who pummeled Angulo for three solid minutes and completely turned the fight in his favor. Apart from a few clubbing blows and the occasional body shot, Angulo never really threatened Kirkland over the last four rounds of the fight. His wide blows, thrown with the speed of a man who had just been anesthetized, no longer carried any power behind them, and Angulo compounded his clumsiness by fighting exclusively as a southpaw. From this stance, Angulo could not connect with a straight right–one of his best offensive weapons—and could not generate the power needed to hurt Kirkland the way he did in the opening minute of the bout.
Angulo appeared to be fighting on instinct for much of the third, fourth, and fifth rounds, and he was taking the kind of lacing that even De Sade might have turned away from in disgust. Between rounds five and six, Angulo looked like he had been going heads-up with a woolly rhinoceros. He appeared unresponsive in the corner, and as Nacho Beristáin worked on his scrapes and bruises, it seemed clear that a mercy stoppage was in order. Sometimes mercy is the last thing to be found in the ring, however, and when the bell rang to start the sixth round, mercy was certainly the last thing James Kirkland was thinking about.
Roughly two minutes into the sixth, Kirkland, Austin, Texas, drove Angulo against the ropes with a pair of ramrod jabs and followed up with a bone-chilling combination that forced Callas to intervene just as Angulo was about to collapse. It looked like Angulo needed to be pulled–for his own safety–at the end of the fourth, and neither Callas nor Nacho Beristáin distinguished themselves by letting “El Perro” take a whipping. After all, Kirkland was not hitting Angulo with a rolled up copy of the latest Ring Magazine. Nothing Kirkland threw seemed to miss the target: right hooks, jabs, uppercuts, bodyshots, and lefts of the straight, roundhouse, and chopping variety. Showing the kind of determination that can be chalked up to either amazing courage or to just being completely out of it, Angulo absorbed inhuman amounts of punishment. According to Compubox, Angulo, now 20-2, took 206 blows and landed only 74 in return. Indeed, this was the kind of beating that Angulo will never forget or, paradoxically, perhaps, may never remember.
With the win, Kirkland, who improves to 30-1, once again becomes a force at junior middleweight—although the HBO ringside jubilee seemed slightly overboard—and some big names might be willing to answer the bell against him with HBO picking up the hefty tab. Kirkland brawled as well as can be expected against a man who enters the ring wearing a dog collar. He kept his composure when things looked bleak early, worked the body, and fought with the kind of ferocity spectators can only gasp at.
Of course, he was once again dropped and came within a second or two of being stopped. In addition, his defense remains almost exclusively in lockstep with his offense. But never mind any of that. For one night, at least, we should all be celebrating the long lost virtues of the Neolithic Age.