James Kirkland and his trainer Ann Wolf
Wow. You should have seen it. The IR middleweight division is officially shook up and it happened it dramatic fashion.
James Kirkland (29-1, 26 KO) went down to Cancun, Mexico looking to do one thing only: Insert his presence into the upper echelon of the 154-pound division.
The very well done HBO back story made it clear: Both men involved in this epic showdown went out of their way to make this fight happen, and for Kirkland it meant going to fight in "El Perro's" backyard.
Fighting in front of a wild and passionate hometown crowd, Angulo was supposed to be the man of the hour. The highly decorated amateur came in with a pro record of 20-1 with 17 knockouts, ranked No. 2 in the division by The Ring.
Angulo looked set to deliver big time for the Cancun faithful early in the first round, when he dropped the charging Kirkland with a crisp right 30 seconds in. Once Kirkland was back on his feet and cleared to continue, Angulo proceeded to unload on him for much of the next two minutes, blasting Kirkland with hard shots to the head and body as Kirkland struggled to stay upright.
In the closing seconds of the round, Angulo punched himself out. Seeing his opening, Kirkland sprang, knocking Angulo down and nearly out cold at the end of what was one of the most exciting rounds in recent years.
Angulo came out for the second round clearly still feeling the effects of Kirkland's late round assault. He fought gamely through the round and got his legs back under him, but he was never really in the fight again.
Rounds 2-5 all saw Kirkland punishing Angulo repeatedly with flush hooks, uppercuts and overhands.
It was remarkable that Angulo stayed in the fight as long as he did. When the ref stopped it in Round 6, it was clearly time. Boxing fans should pray that the talented young fighter does not have any lasting damage from this fight.
Meanwhile, Kirkland jumps to the front of the line for big fights in the potentially exciting 154- and 160-pound divisions.