by David P. Greisman
Although Canelo Alvarez scored three knockdowns on James Kirkland, including the sensational one-punch knockout that laid Kirkland out, he first had to weather an assault in the opening minutes.
The way he did that, along with the result, caught the eye of Alvarez’s promoter, Hall of Fame fighter Oscar De La Hoya of Golden Boy Promotions.
“Kirkland came on so strong but Canelo kept his poise. He tried to keep his distance, but Kirkland was just so relentless,” De La Hoya said immediately afterward. “What really impressed me was his defense. He was dodging the left hooks that Kirkland was throwing. And the body shots — he knew that the body shots would do it. He used everything in his arsenal. But the most impressive punch was the body shot.
“Kirkland, when he’s ready, he will walk right through anybody. But tonight, Canelo was just overwhelming and was stronger and smarter than Kirkland,” De La Hoya said. “When Kirkland threw a left hook and Canelo went under it, I felt a bit at ease, and I felt that Canelo was in control. He was kind of doing the rope-a-dope there for a bit.”
Alvarez and Kirkland had been scheduled to fight way back in September 2012, when Kirkland was named as a replacement after Victor Ortiz was upset by Josesito Lopez, and after Ortiz’s replacement, Paul Williams, was in a career-ending motorcycle crash.
Except Kirkland opted not to go forward with the bout, saying he was still recovering from an injury and that the money being offered to him wasn’t enough to make fighting hurt worthwhile.
De La Hoya didn’t quite answer what the difference was between the Canelo who would’ve fought Kirkland two and a half years ago and the Alvarez of today.
“He showed us that he’s learning,” De La hoya said. “He showed us that he’s growing into his man strength. He’s only 24 years old. Unbelievable. And he displayed tremendous, tremendous punching power.”
Pick up a copy of David’s book, “Fighting Words: The Heart and Heartbreak of Boxing,” at http://bit.ly/fightingwordsamazon or internationally at http://bit.ly/fightingwordsworldwide . Send questions/comments via email at [email protected]