A week ago, the entire world stopped to turn its attention to boxing, as Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao finally climbed into the ring together. The result, a one-sided decision for Mayweather, did not exactly surprise knowledgeable fans. But the more casual crowd was disappointed to see a strategic chess match in place of an all-action, Rocky style slugfest.
Any casual fans who tuned in for the Sweet Science this weekend got plenty of explosive action, though. On Saturday night in Houston, emerging superstar Canelo Alvarez recorded the most exciting win of his career, stopping James Kirkland in three rounds.
The fight was a pure slugfest for the brief time it lasted. Kirkland moved forward from the opening bell, hammering at Alvarez. But Canelo found the open holes in Kirkland’s attack and blasted him, dropping him hard in the opening frame.
Kirkland came into the fight saying he planned to put heavy pressure on Alvarez, to the point where the red-headed Mexican star would be able to smell his breath. He made good on the vow, staying right in Alvarez’s face.
But Canelo was the sharper boxer, with crisper combinations. He consistently landed his shots inside of Kirkland’s wide punches. I’ve seen the fight compared to Hagler and Hearns in 1985, but that’s a stretch. This fight had some of the same excitement, but there was never any doubt that Alvarez was in control of the fight.
The win came at a perfect time for Alvarez. He’s one of the sport’s biggest names, but was getting lost in the shuffle with all the hype surrounding the big showdown between Mayweather and Pacquiao. Now, a week after that fight disappointed, he has turned in one of the year’s most exciting performances.
It was a strong weekend overall for boxing. On Friday night, 42-year-old heavyweight contender Amir Mansour won an action-packed decision over a tough and surprisingly skilled Joey Dawejko. Mansour came into the fight at a very svelte 210 pounds and seemed to have lost a bit of power as a result.
On Saturday afternoons PBC card, Japanese phenom Tomoki Kameda lost a close decision against WBA bantamweight champion Jaime McDonnell. It was an exciting fight that was decided in the final round.
In the PBC main event, Ricky Burns traveled from Scotland to Hidalgo, Texas and turned in a gritty performance against local star Omar Figueroa Jr. Figueroa came away with the unanimous decision, but the fight that happened in the ring was far closer than the one that the judges scored. Figueroa got eight rounds from two judges and nine from the third, which was way out of line.
The fight was also marred by absolutely disgraceful refereeing from Laurence Cole. Figueroa forced an all-action bout in a phone booth, which led to a lot of clinching. Cole repeatedly yanked on Burns’ arm in the clinch, putting the fighter at risk and an unfair competitive disadvantage. Cole also made two questionable point deductions from Burns for holding, in Rounds 8 and 12.
Burns has certainly been the recipient of some favorable judging decisions when he was fighting in his own hometown in Scotland. And Burns certainly fought well enough to win the bout, so it’s not fair to call it a robbery. In the end, it was another great boxing match in a terrific weekend of boxing.