James Kirkland TKO6 Alfredo Angulo: My Pick For Round Of The Year, Fight Of The Year

Alfredo AnguloBy James Slater: There have been a number of excellent, quality fights this year, with a few possible choices presenting themselves when it comes to picking 2011’s Fight Of The Year. We saw a terrific all-action battle back in July, when light-middleweights Delvin Rodriguez and Pawel Wolak went to war for ten magnificent, throwback rounds. The draw fans witnessed on ESPN’s Friday Night Fights was good enough for the two warriors to do it all again (in December, with Rodriguez winning another exciting fight, this one by wide decision.)

But was Rodriguez D10 Wolak The FOTY?

What about the up-and-down thriller that was Victor Ortiz’ upset points win over defending WBC welterweight champ Andre Berto? The April battle thrilled everyone (including Floyd Mayweather Junior, who sat at ringside and soon decided to face winner Ortiz) - so much so that the two men will meet again in a Feb. 2012 rematch. Twice each the two warriors hit the mat in April, the action sending fans into a frenzy. There’s no doubt: Ortiz WU12 Berto is up there with the best fights of the last twelve months.

But how can we forget the quite superb WBA flyweight war that also took place in April? Back then, Mexico’s Hernan Marquez and Panamanian Luis Concepcion fought a fierce battle that produced some vicious see-saw action. “Tyson” Marquez survived a 1st-round knockdown, as did Concepcion (who also tasted the canvas in the 3rd and 10th-rounds), to come on and batter his ultra-brave rival to an 11th-round TKO defeat. These two also met again: with Marquez this time winning by surprisingly easy-looking 1st-round TKO.

But when it comes to my choice for the 2011 FOTY (and this year’s Round Of The Year, come to that), I go for the November 5th World Boxing Council (WBC) 154-pound eliminator that was James Kirkland Vs. Alfredo Angulo.

Kirkland, who really had to win to avoid becoming a fighter with nowhere to go, rose to the challenge in amazing fashion in Mexico; getting up from a 1st-round knockdown to batter “El Perro” into submission in the 6th-round of a sensational, leap-out-of-your-seat slugfest. Kirkland, as is and always will be his way, came out smoking in the opener (my pick for ROTY) - the powerful but often vulnerable southpaw looking to land his big left hand. It was the perceived tougher, more durable man who scored first blood, however, as Angulo decked Kirkland with a sharp right hand counter to the head. Instantly, fans everywhere has flashbacks to Kirkland’s shocking April loss to Nobuhiro Ishida. Only this time, Kirkland got up and held on.

Angulo made the mistake of becoming a swarmer, wasting a ton of punches. Kirkland was under real fire (with the ref even telling Kirkland he would stop the fight if he didn’t punch back - the referee actually speaking to Kirkland on a number of occasions throughout the fight for some reason), but a lot of Angulo’s shots either missed or were taken on the arms and gloves. Then, in unforgettable fashion, and after allowing Angulo to punch himself out, Kirkland came roaring back and hurt his man!

The tables had turned, and after taking three or four heavy left hands to the head Angulo was the man on the canvas. Then the bell sounded, ending what was arguably the best opening round of a big fight since the unforgettable Hagler-Hearns classic.

The battle, expected by many to be short and sweet, raged on for a further five-rounds. Kirkland was all over Angulo in the 2nd, with the 29-year-old Mexican warrior looking gassed already. 27-year-old Kirkland was firing out stiff right jabs as well as some nice left uppercuts. Angulo managed to rally off the ropes at the bell. Another excellent round.

Angulo switched to southpaw for a spell in the 3rd, as he had done briefly in the first-round. Having a touch of success, “Perro” was nevertheless feeling the pace, as was Kirkland. This one was now shaping up as a gruelling battle of attrition. They traded heavy shots towards the end of another torrid session, Angulo now bleeding from above his right eye.

Kirkland, who can box when he chooses to, used his skills in the 4th, totally outclassing an exhausted-looking Angulo. There were heavy, painful shots being landed by the younger man as well, however, and Angulo was starting to take a beating - only his raw courage was keeping him in there.

There was next to nothing on the shots of Angulo in the 5th, his arm punches having little effect on Kirkland. Coming and coming as he was, the Texan was breaking Mexican hearts. Caught by a couple of crisp shots to the head, Kirkland, the supposed “chinny” fighter, faked a wobble and clowned Angulo! Kirkland then punished his man on the ropes with yet more heavy-handed shots. Angulo, busted up and close to all done, was barely hanging on.

The end came swiftly in the 6th, as Kirkland pinned Angulo on the ropes and repeatedly snapped his head back with rights and lefts. The ref had seen enough and dived in; ending what was to me and to many other fans, the best fight of the year when it comes to raw, undiluted action!

Those fans who did see the fight on November 5th will never forget it.

Article posted on 22.12.2011

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