Canelo Alvarez and James Kirkland didn't disappoint, going to war over just under three rounds tonight in Houston, with Alvarez scoring a brutal third round knockout on a right hand, after having twice floored the hard-charging brawler already.
Kirkland (32-2, 28 KO) came right at Canelo (45-1-1, 32 KO) as advertised, putting pressure on the 24-year-old superstar, who had the massive crowd in his corner at Minute Maid Park. But once Alvarez started throwing back, it was clear that Kirkland was in danger of getting outgunned by a more accurate, hard puncher, and before long, Kirkland was on the canvas with a little over a minute left in the opening round. Kirkland, 31, barely survived the opening round, and his prospects weren't looking good.
But he came right at Canelo once again, and got hurt early in round two on a hook. Referee Jon Schorle was on top of the action as Canelo whaled away on Kirkland, but James stood his ground as best he could, and began throwing punches back, and even pressed Canelo to the ropes again, with Alvarez looking a little tired to close the round, though still landing hard shots.
Once again, the determined and increasingly desperate Kirkland stormed right toward Alvarez to start round three, with the Mexican landing hard uppercuts and body shots. Kirkland continued his dogged pressure, but just as it looked as though Canelo might be getting tired enough for the fight to become a little more even, he smashed Kirkland coming in with a clean right uppercut, putting Kirkland on the canvas for a second time.
Though he got up and fought on, the fight was all but over. And then, with Kirkland swinging a wild shot, Alvarez destroyed him with a hard overhand right that whiplashed Kirkland's neck violently, and sent him tumbling helplessly to the floor for a final time. Referee Jon Schorle took a perfunctory look before rightly waving it off.
In the end, Alvarez had to throw everything he could at James Kirkland to get him out of there, and it was with precision accuracy that he did so. Alvarez landed 87 of 150 punches for an absurd 58% connect rate, including 60% on his power shots, which dominated his output at 79/132. Kirkland landed 42 of 197 for a 21% connect rate, with all but 20 of his punches thrown being power shots, and just one jab landed.
We came for action and savagery, and we got it. Canelo Alvarez now moves on to face Miguel Cotto later this year, should Cotto beat Daniel Geale on June 6, and James Kirkland goes back to the drawing board.