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Kirkland and Conyers pay dual tribute to Vargas in one-round epic

Last night's Shobox featured what should be in the running for Round of the Year. If you didn't catch the card, look for a replay sometime this week. Fernando Vargas would have been proud.

Hungry 154-pound fighters James Kirkland and Allen Conyers went to war. For two minutes and fifty-six seconds. It was a one-round fight.

Kirkland, the favorite, came in 20-0 with 17 knockouts. The Austin, TX, southpaw is known mostly for explosive power, but also an indifference to defensive boxing. The 31-year old Conyers (11-2, 9 KO coming into the bout) immediately found himself backed into the ropes by his 23-year old counterpart.

So what did Conyers do? He blasted Kirkland to the mat with a hard right hand moments later, sending the prospect to the canvas for the first time in his young career.

But that's where it got really interesting. Kirkland sprang back up -- it was almost Vargas-esque, reminiscent of "El Feroz" leaping back to his feet after heavy shots from Oscar or Tito. Unlike Vargas, Kirkland made his opponent pay.

Kirkland would floor Conyers shortly after returning to an upright position, and basically stiff-armed him into the ropes just after that. Conyers never had his legs back, but he kept coming. This, too, was Vargas-esque. A beaten fighter, he didn't cover up, he didn't back away. He looked, foolishly and blindly, for a knockout opening.

At 2:56, with Conyers stumbling around the ring, Kirkland landed the final blow. Referee Ray Corona immediately waved it off as Conyers tried desperately to get to his feet.

You can't ask for much more out of a one-round fight than that.