Texas fighter James Kirkland
Manny Pacquiao vs Juan Manuel Marquez III lacks the drama and intrigue of their previous fight in their candidates in their much-storied trilogy.
Relatively unknown Texan boxer Kirkland delivered a tremendous career-defining performance against Alfredo Angulo by stopping him in Round 6 on Nov. 5, a week before Pacquiao vs Marquez.
The match was a thrilling back-and-forth slugfest that ended in Round 6. Pacquiao could end the fight against Marquez in the same round that Kirkland-Angulo ended and it would still not be as special.
Here are a few reasons why that is so.
James Kirkland (boxer) and Ann Wolfe (trainer)
Kirkland is 27 years old and still hungry and looking for his first world title. His opponent is 29-year-old Mexican dog Alfredo "El Perro" Anguo.
Both have hearts bigger than their fists and enough power in their punches to power Las Vegas for at least a week.
Though Pacquiao and Marquez are action-fighters, they're also multi-millionaires with not much else to prove.
Marquez makes $5 million guaranteed in this fight even if he were to be blown out in the first round.
Pacquiao makes over $20 million regardless of whether the fight's competitive or not. Kirkland and Angulo don't have financial safety nets like those to fall back on.
The winner can aim for bigger paydays in the near future, while the loser must hustle his name for as much cash as he can get while rebuilding his career again toward the bigger money.
Cotto v s Margarito II: One of many classics in the division
Manny Pacquiao has dominated the welterweight (147 lb) division in Floyd Mayweather's absence. Now there are hardly any feasible opponents for the winner of Pacquiao vs Marquez outside of Mayweather.
Junior middleweight (154 lb) is an entirely different animal these days. Between Carlos Molina, Erislandy Lara, and undefeated rising stars like Vanes Martirosyan and Austin Trout, Kirkland and Angulo have options galore.
Should Kirkland's blazing warpath direct him well enough, he could find himself in the intriguing and wallet-filling role of being the next opponent for 154 division king Miguel Cotto or hotshot Saul Alvarez.
Kirkland looks forward to a great slugfest.
The two warriors, Kirkland and Angulo, are not very fast like Pacquiao and Marquez.
Though they can apply jabs and basic technique, they are not of the elite brand of skillset that is wielded by the likes of Marquez and Pacquiao.
They can only come forward and bang it out in the center of the ring.
Aim up top, aim down low. Headshots, bodyshots, cut off the ring and ignite explosions that burn memories into brains, branding viewers as fans instantly.
Pacquiao and Marquez could wind up as a technical battle with not nearly as much action as the mainstream audience may desire thanks to the two fighters' knowledge of each other.
Leonard vs Duran III was a tactical battle that was booed for it's lack of flesh-pounding brutality. The boxing audience did not have that problem with Kirkland-Angulo.
Alex Ariza helps Pacquiao get in shape.
Manny Pacquiao's power has been established in such matches as his fight against Mosley and Cotto.
But Marquez's power is nonexistent at welterweight based on his lone fight against Mayweather.
Even at lightweight, Marquez wasn't a one-punch fight-ender save for the freak occurrence against Likar Ramos.
Marquez will likely have to try to hurt Pacquiao a few times while nullifying his offense with counters to earn a unanimous decision.
A properly prepared Pacquiao showing up against an older Marquez could spell disaster come fight night.
But with Kirkland and Angulo, there was no worry about which fighter had power. They both had enough power to stun, knockdown and possibly take each other out at any moment
James Kirkland throwing a mean Texas-sized hook
When Pacquiao and Marquez step into the ring, they will be completing a trilogy of fights, but a victory for either fighter will hardly add a significant amount of filling to such stuffed careers.
The victories they achieve now are merely icing on the cake or cherries on top.
Kirkland's knockout of Angulo is truly the birth of a career. He will become ranked for what look to be the first time in the Ring's divisional rankings at 154 lbs.
And when Kirkland debuts, he'll at least be top five in his division, putting him instantly in the realm of Canelo Alvarez and Miguel Cotto.
Watching the rise of a powerful dedicated young man is an amazing thing to see, watching two men continue a lesser version of what has been witnessed twice already may not be as riveting.
Manny Pacquiao is on pay-per-view for a reason, because of the Filipino's popularity and the marketability of his rivalry with Marquez.
Kirkland and Angulo have a damn good match that is only on Boxing After Dark, yet delivered pay-per-view worthy violence.
But sometimes this is the route of true budding legends. Marco Antonio Barrera and Erik Morales had their first fight on HBO Boxing After Dark before the rematch to their initial blockbuster made pay-per-view.
Recognition takes time and if Kirkland wants recognition for his talents, he will have to continue to dig deep and deliver the type of fights fans fond to see.