IN front of more than 31,000 raucous fans Minute Maid Park in Houston, light-middleweight sensation Mexico’s Saul “Canelo” Alvarez (45-1-1, 32 KOs) knocked out Texas’ James “Mandingo Warrior” Kirkland (32-2, 28 KOs) with a thunderous right hand in the middle of the third round, capping a sensational performance that saw the 24-year-old drop Kirkland in the first and deliver a number of huge shots before the eventual end of the fight. The fight was broadcast live on HBO World Championship Boxing.
“This was one of the best knockouts of my career,” Canelo Alvarez said following the fight. “He came out with a little bit of a different style than I was expecting, but I was able to adjust and get the knockout. I knew he was strong fighter but he surprised me with his aggressiveness in the first and second round. I fight for the fans, and I’ll fight anyone, anywhere, anytime.” Alvarez connected on an astounding 60 percent of his power shots, landing 79 of them inside of three rounds.
“I didn’t know I was knocked out,” said James Kirkland. “I had him trapped and hurt in the corner in the first round but he escaped, I had him hurt in the second also. He’s a great champion, I’m proud that I was able to compete in such a terrific event, and I hope to fight him again some day. I’m a warrior, I’ll be back.”
“Canelo vs. Kirkland on May 9 was the real Cinco de Mayo weekend fight that fans wanted,” said Oscar De La Hoya, Founder and President of Golden Boy Promotions. “We promised them a war, we promised them action, and that is exactly what they got with this fight.”
“I’m proud of him, he’s a true warrior and I’m going to get him back with Ann Wolfe,” said Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson, Founder and Chairman of SMS Promotions, said of Kirkland after the fight.
“I am very happy about the fight, it was intense from round one. We want to thank Kirkland for taking this fight and for giving the fans an exciting night,” said Jose “Chepo” Reynoso, manager and trainer for Canelo Alvarez. “This fight showed the result of 17 intense weeks of training and we are very satisfied with the result.”
“I’m happy we won the fight,” said Eddy Reynoso, head trainer for Canelo Alvarez. “This is the result of a successful camp. Kirkland did surprise us in the beginning, but Canelo was able to find him and adjust to his rhythm and overpower him. I want to thank the team that made this fight happen and all the fans that continue to support us.”
With official attendance of 31,588, Minute Maid Park was rocking from the opening bell, and Alvarez delivered for them not only with a huge knockout, but with a pledge to fight in Texas once a year.
2012 U.S. Olympian Joseph “Jo Jo” Diaz, Jr. (16-0, 10 KOs)closed the undercard with an electric performance, outlasting a savvy Giovanni “Lloviznas” Delgado (15-3, 9 KOs) in a 10-round unanimous decision.
“I feel great that I was able to go the distance and show more of my skills instead of just another knockout,” said Diaz. “Delgado was very tough and durable but my skills were better. I’m thrilled to fight here on such a big stage and look forward to getting back in the ring soon.”
“Diaz, is very fast and it was difficult finding my rhythm,” Delgado said. “I did get very tired trying to keep up with his pace and it was difficult to find him, but I also feel like I did shake him in the last few rounds. I am disappointed that I lost all I can do now is go back to the gym and train harder.”
Heavyweight 7-foot-tall Chinese sensation Taishan Dong (4-0, 2 KOs) stayed undefeated in a four-round slugfest, outpointing Jamal Woods (6-19, 6 KOs), and winning by majority decision. “I feel really thrilled to be representing the millions of people in China today especially on one of the most attended cards of the year,” Taishan said. “I feel like my opponent had more experience than I do but that doesn’t mean he was more skillful. Today, my strength, reach and powerful jab was what got me the win.”
Slick, undefeated Welterweight KeAndre Gibson (13-0-1, 5 KOs) bolstered his record with a 10-round unanimous decision over a game Jorge Romero. In an impressive victory, Gibson pitched a shutout on all three judges’ cards. “I had a tough opponent, a veteran,” Gibson said. “I think I did well. I will fight whoever next. It was a good experience to fight in front of a crowd like this. Look at all these people.”
Savvy veteran Joshua “Grand Master” Clottey (39-4, 22 KOs) outlasted Jorge Silva (20-9-2, 16 KOs), in a 10-round match-up of Super Welterweights. Clottey, a former world title holder dominated the action from the get-go, shutting out Silva on two judges’ cards en route to a unanimous decision.
Up-and-coming and undefeated super lightweight Ryan “Blue Chip” Martin (13-0, 8 KOs) made it an early afternoon in Houston, knocking out Ivan “El Oso” Zavala (7-10-2, 3 KOs) inside two minutes of the first round. The Tennessee native was all over Zavala from the opening bell, ending the fight with a massive shot to the ear. “I’m sorry my fans didn’t get to see more of me, but I took care of business,” Martin said. “I’m looking forward to my next fight and showcasing my skills further.”
In a tight eight-round affair, Austin, Texas-based Super Lightweight Curtis Meeks (10-1-2, 3 KOs) fought through a shoulder injury to win a tough majority decision over Ramsey Luna (12-3, 5 KOs). Both fighters landed flurries of rights and lefts to the head and body, but Meeks was more precise with his punches, edging out the victory in front of the hometown Texas fans. “I’m winning, even if it’s with one arm,” Meeks said. [Luna] put on a good fight today, but I would have knocked him out inside four if I hadn’t hurt my shoulder.”
In his third fight as a professional, featherweight prospect Crescencio Ramos (3-0, 2 KOs) gave a sizzling performance in a one-sided victory, knocking down Cody Walker (1-5) twice before the referee stepped in to stop the fight before the end of the first round. “I wanted to use my speed; my speed and my body shots,” Ramos said.
Local fan-favorite Alfonso “El Tigre” Lopez (24-3, 19 KOs) landed a devastating counter left hook in the second round to deliver a huge knockout against Lester “El Cubanito” Gonzalez(12-17-4, 6 KOs). “I wanted to stay consistent, stay relaxed and let the counter-shot come,” Lopez said. “We knew that he was slick, so I wanted to use my boxing skills, set up the shot. Only stages like this will being the absolute best fighting out of you.”
In a battle of undefeated super-featherweights, Joseph Rodriguez (9-0, 2 KOs) kept his ‘0’ with a hard-fought majority decision over formerly undefeated Luis Guevera (3-1-1, 2 KOs). Mixing speed, power and defense the San Antonio-based Rodriguez came out on top on two of the judges cards, including a shutout on one. “I picked my shots and the right times to turn it on. I took my time and was a savvy veteran.”
In an all-Mexican super-bantamweight showdown, Rodrigo “Gatito” Guerrero (23-5-1, 16 KOs) emerged victorious over Arturo “Fuerte” Badillo (20-7, 18KOs) when a barrage of shots from Guerrero forced Badillo to retire at the end of the seventh round. “It wasn’t an easy fight,” Guerrero, from Mexico City, Mexico said. “My focus has always been to fight for a world title, and I’m hopeful that’s next for me.”
In the opening fight from Houston, undefeated light heavyweight Armando “III” Pina (6-0, 6 KOs) stayed perfect with a second round knockout of Zacharia Kelley (4-11, 4 KOs). After working the body early in the second, Pina went upstairs to finish the fight. “He’s a short guy, so I know I had to take some air out of him,” Pina, a Chicago native said. About his future, Pina said, “I’m just staying dedicated and working real hard. There are no limits.”