No one will ever forget what you did here today

By Robert Jackson: The title of this article is a phrase made famous by legendary trainer Eddie Futch during the 1975 ‘Thrilla in Manilla’ fight, where after 14 rounds the Hall of Fame trainer called an end to a very brutal affair where both Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier absorbed tremendous amounts of punishment. Both men were briefly hospitalized after the fight and Ali was quoted as saying after the fight “this is the closest thing to death”. Joe Frazier was said to have been angry with Futch for stopping the fight, it was also said that Frazier never spoke to Futch again. Making the argument “No one will ever forget what you did here today” Futch stopped the fight in the corner between the 14th and 15th rounds, giving Ali the victory.

Fast Forward to November 5, 2011. Half a world away from Manilla, as a Texas resident this writer took in a night of fights at the Pharr Texas Convention Center. The main event of the evening featured the 18-2 hometown favorite Raul ‘El Tigre’ Casarez from Edinburg Texas facing off against Beaumont Texas native with a recored of 3-5-1 – Justin Williams in a middleweight fight for the WBO youth title held by Casarez. In front of a crowd of 3000+ fans, the taller, quicker, Williams, took an early lead in the fight and going into the 4th round of this give and take affair, it looked like the champion Casarez would lose his title. A point deduction against the champion for a low blow late in the fight all but sealed the deal for a Williams victory (this writer thought Casarez needed a KO to win). But the Gatti-like Casarez was far from finished and gutted out rounds 5 and 6, in a fight that should be considered a ‘fight of the year’ candidate, to retain his title. Congratulations to Raul ‘El Tigre’ Casarez who now moves forwards to an eventual world title fight his handlers are angling for in 2012.

Before attending the live fights in Pharr Texas, this writer set up the DVR to record the Angulo/Kirkland fight featured on HBO’s Boxing After Dark (BAD). Still charged up from the earlier live fights, I stayed up late to view the recording partly because I had a wager (for a beer) with a fellow boxing writer that Kirkland would dominate Angulo. My colleague gave me all of the reason’s why Angulo would win, I just responded, with Kenny Adams in Kirkland’s corner Angulo by KO, with Ann Wolfe in Kirkland’s corner Kirkland by brutal KO. By now we all know the story of Kirkland’s 18 month incarceration after which he returned to the ring with Coach Kenny Adams in his corner and proceeeded to suffer his first loss as a professional. Kirkland returned to Austin Texas and reunited with Wolfe after that loss. Ann Wolfe a former women’s boxing champion and current trainer of James Kirkland is known for her intensive almost brutal training regiment she puts her fighters thru, including: fighting them with multiple opponents, turning up the heater in the gym and closing all of the doors then having them spar, amongst other unusual routines. Alfredo Angulo turned to Juan Manuel Marquez trainer, Nacho Beristain to corner him for this fight, and trained out of Mexico City’s Romanza gym.

At the start of the fight Kirkland came out aggressive, pressuring, throwing combinations and for his trouble was put down by a right hand from Angulo. Angulo then pounced on Kirkland landing multiple punches to finish him, Kirkland weathered the storm…barely. Angulo unable to take Kirkland out continued punching eventually punching himself out and a recovered Kirkland then began landing his own shots several of which hurt the spent Angulo who also went down near the end of the opening stanza. From round 2 on Kirkland never looked back and the training provided by Wolfe paid dividends, as Kirkland dished out a brutal beating, with HBO point man Max Kellerman prounouncing during the 5th round “no boxing fan will ever forget what they witnessed here tonight”, sound familiar? The referee stopped the fight in the 6th round after Kirkland landed several unanswered punches on the defenseless Angulo against the ropes in another ‘fight of the year’, type fight.

Kudos to 2 great fights and fighters in the middleweight division. Maybe we’ll be treated to a fight between these 2 warriors on their way to a title shot in the future.

Authors note: thoughts and prayers go out to the great former Heavyweight Champion Joe Frazier who is gravely ill.

Article posted on 07.11.2011

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