Ishida defeats Kirkland, Maidana decisions Morales, Guerrero outboxes Katsidis, Malignaggi defeats Cotto

Marcos MaidanaBy Paul Strauss: "Where's Ann Wolfe?" is what many, including James Kirkland, are asking after he suffered a tremendous upset knockout at the hands of light punching Nobuhiro Ishida? Earlier they had been thinking, "Did what I think I saw really happen? It couldn't have". At the time, fans had to be admitting, "Sure James just went down in the first round, but he must have been off balance or slipped on one of those dam painted logos or something. It couldn't have been from the power of a punch. If fact what was it, a left or a right?"

That's the kind of thought process fight fans were experiencing Saturday night at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas for HBO's PPV. It was inconceivable to think that James had actually been hurt by someone who obviously had been offered up as slaughter for James. This 6'2" tall drink of Japanese water was expected to be the next first round knockout victim in Kirkland's comeback story. But, apparently no one translated that for Ishida.

The fight began with the Mandingo southpaw Warrior going straight at the orthodox Ishida, the way he normally does with all of his opponents. However, this warrior seemed to be moving ahead at a much slower speed than in the past. More surprisingly, Ishida didn't run. The tall lanky Japanese fighter moved, but he didn't run. He moved fluidly, keeping his balance and punching back. He also managed to straight arm James a bit, which seemed to befuddle Mandingo. Then the shocker happened. All of a sudden a flurry of punches was exchanged, and somehow James ended up on the canvas. No one was sure what the hell had just happened. A closer look revealed James had actually run into a straight left, which was more than just a jab. As James started to go down from the punch, his chin and Ishida's incoming left shoulder crashed together, which proved to be a kind of double whammy for James.

James easily beat the count, and everyone expected the foolhardy Ishida to soon be unconscious for acting so recklessly. Could Ishida actually think he was good enough to exchange punches with someone like James, a destroyer with eight first round knockouts to his credit? Must be a language thing, because he went after James like he knew what he was doing. He used his height and reach to launch and land sniper like shots from afar to both James' body and head. His shots were right on target, further softening up his opponent, and then he put James down again with another left. Incredible!

Holy Upset! as Batman and Robin would say as Kirkland's butt bounced on the canvas again. This cannot be. "How many knockouts does Ishida have.........only seven!". That's what many thought! This just can't be happening. James pushed himself upright once again, and Referee Joe Cortez wiped off his gloves and took a close look at him, and let the fight continue.

Ishida jumped all over him, and James seemed to have no idea how to remedy the situation other than to throw an occasional shot. But, nothing of consequence landed, and Ishida kept unloading with long, hard, straight shots. Quickly, Ishida landed a counter left, and then a beautiful straight right hand, which landed right on Kirkland's chin. It knocked him straight back on the seat of his pants, down for the third time. Cortez had seen enough, and he jumped in and prevented James from continuing. The fight was over, and one of the biggest upsets in current memory had just occurred.

In the post fight interview, Kirkland was booed when he attempted to describe the knockdown(s) as a "flash knockdown". They weren't falling for it. Ishida was so happy and gracious. He was bowing all over the place. In fact, he had gone over to Kirkland's corner and bowed to him.

In the main event, Jim Lampley and Max Kellerman almost seemed reluctant that the fight was about to occur. They were genuinely afraid Erik Morales might be hurt by Marcos Rene Maidana, the hard punching tough brawler from Argentina. They felt Morales had already been through too many wars, and had been away from the sport too long to be considered a serious threat to win, and might possibly get badly hurt.

The fight opened in just that fashion. Maidana wasted no time in swarming all over Morales. The former champion was forced back into the ropes, where Maidana unleashed a barrage of shots from every angle you can think of. One in particular, a left uppercut, got through cleanly and bounced off the right eyelid and eyebrow of Morales. Immediately the eye started to swell shut. ":Oh, oh," everyone thought. "This is not good." Already the El Terrible is in trouble, and the end can't be far away.

Morales didn't do anything in the first round. He seemed overwhelmed. In the second round he did manage a good right hand counter, but he was being bombarded with a tremendously fast pace and barrage of punches. Maidana's corner correctly told him that Morales can't see and that Marcos should attack that right side.

In the fourth round, there was a clash of heads, and poor Morales came out the worse for it. Now he had a small cut over the left eye. Thankfully for him it wasn't too bad and toward the outside of the lid, so the possibility of blood dripping into the eye wasn't a factor at that point. The fourth actually proved to be a good round for Morales. He landed several fast, sharp combinations, and got through some hard rights. Maidana rallied at the end of the round, but it was Morales' round. Back in Maidana's corner, they told him the fight was even.

In the fifth round, Maidana put on heavy pressure again, but Morales covered up well, and moved just enough in and out to cause many of Maidana's pounces to miss. Even with the shots that landed, Morales rolled and turned to lessen the damage. The sixth continued with great action. Maidana was busier, but Morales landed the cleaner, straighter shots. In the seventh, Maidana must have fired off twenty or thirty unanswered punches. But, then Morales came back again and managed to landed a great lead left hook that badly wobbled Maidana. Later in the round Maidana ralled again, but he was still hurt as he wondered off to the wrong corner when the round ended.

Maidana regained control in the eighth with lots of pressure again. Maidana does such a great job of attacking from all different angles, and stepping to the side to create even more angles. His attack is very hard to defend against, and Morales was catching a lot of shots. However, he gutted it up and resumed his own attack in the tenth, controlling most of the round before Maidana landed another big right hand toward the end of the round.

Harold Lederman, the unofficial scorekeeper, had Morales up by two rounds at this point. But, it was obvious to everyone that Morales was tiring. Maidana's corner told him that he had to knock out Morales. They were afraid that the fans and judges were letting sentiment cloud their opinion as to how the fight was going.

Most would agree that the last two rounds went to Maidana. He once again applied tremendous pressure, and wouldn't allow Morales to get set long enough to start any counter attack. That meant on Harold's card, it was a draw. Judge Richard Houck agreed, scoring the fight 114-114. However.

Judges Harold Roth and Adelaide Byrd both scored it 116-112, a MD for Maidana. The post fight interviews made it sound like a rematch is a strong possibility.

Robert Guerrero once again proved he is a very good fighter. He out-boxed Michael Katsidis for much of the fight. Early on he kept the fight at the range and pace he wanted. The southpaw repeatedly landed good right hooks and straight lefts. When Katsidis tried to step things up and close the distance, he would find himself running into some hard left uppercuts to the body.

But, as everyone knows, Katsidis takes a little while to get revved up, and everyone also knows that taking a few punches doesn't deter him whatsoever. In the second round, he fired off a flurry, and got Guerrero off balance a bit, and then cuffed him behind the head with a left, followed by a right hand shove. Guerrero stumbled backward, and reached down to catch his balance. His glove came in contact with the canvas, but Referee Russell Mora did not feel a knockdown had occurred, so he did not signal as such.

Both Lampley and Kellerman thought Mora should have credited Katsidis with a knockdown, but they also acknowledged Guerrero had not been hurt at all.

The fight was full of action. Guerrero boxed very well and continued to scored with the harder, cleaner shots. Katsidis would rally here and there, and get through with an occasional left hook, or a straight lead right or two. But, for the most part, Guerrero controlled the action. He kept the fight at the length and speed he wanted for the most part. Through the fifth round, Harold Lederman had the fight five to zero for Guerrero.

In the sixth, the pace slowed a bit, but was still controlled by Guerrero; although, he did get caught with a Katsidis lead right again. When Michael tried it again, Robert slipped it and countered. In the sixth round, things were going a bit better for Katsidis, at least early on. But, then there was an accidental clash of heads and Katsidis came away with a bad gash under his right eye. He still won the round. The eighth round was a strange one in the sense that Referee Mora felt compelled to step in and penalize Katsidis twice for low blows. Up until that point, there hadn't seemed to be much in the way of warnings. A replay of the action preceding the penalties showed that the first deduction was justified, as the punch(s) were clearly low. But, the second one was more questionable. Unfortunately for Katsidis, his body attack seemed to be having the desired effect on Guerrero, but it ended up meaning a 10-7 round for Guerrero.

In the ninth round, Referee Mora took it upon himself to make up for the second penalty point levied against Katsidis by penalizing Guerrero this time. Katsidis continued to demonstrate that there's no quit in him. He landed several good short left hooks inside, but it was still not enough. Referee Mora's action in the eighth and ninth rounds seemed unnecessary, but all in all didn't influence the outcome.

Guerrero boxed well again in the tenth, and Katsidis seemed to have faded slightly. In the eleventh and twelfth rounds, Guerrero was once again catching Katsidis with everything. But, Katsidis would not quit. Harold's unofficial scorecard read 118-106 for Guerrero, so he becomes the interim WBA and WBO lightweight champion

Paulie Malignaggi was too fast and elusive for Jose Miguel Cotto, the older brother of Juan Manuel. There were times when Cotto would get through with his good left hook, or counter right, but he just wasn't willing to do enough to win the fight. It's undoubtedly why he is considered a journeyman fighter. He has his moments, and shows pretty good talent, but he just doesn't exhibit the level of ring generalship necessary to win against the better fighters. With Paulie, it always......"If only he had a punch!"

All in all it was a great night of boxing. Lot's of action and one hell of an upset!

Article posted on 11.04.2011

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