By Michael Norby: Undefeated junior middleweight puncher James Kirkland stormed his way to a career best victory on Saturday night after he pummeled Colombian Joel Julio en route to a sixth round stoppage at The HP Pavilion in San Jose, California, USA.
This was supposedly a can’t miss, pick ‘em contest from the moment that it was announced – a match-up that forced a pair of fire-fisted, aggressive and hungry young fighters to collide in the center of a boxing ring. After six rounds of largely one-sided action, however, it was clear that Kirkland 25-0 (22) was in a class if his own as his relentless pressure and combination punching overwhelmed Julio 34-3 (31) who, at the midway point of the fight, decided that he had suffered enough and remained on his stool.
Kirkland wasted no time as he blasted forward from the opening bell and unleashed a steady flow of power punches against the jaw and body of his opponent. Julio, for his part, couldn’t get going and, apart from a couple of well placed counter punches, he was unable to settle throughout the first two minutes. He rebounded slightly in the final portion of the round and connected with a series of right hands but it was Kirkland who landed the more telling punches – one of which opened a cut in the corner of Julio’s left eye.
Kirkland continued to surge forward in the second but his opponent was ready this time and landed a number of straight right hands against the dial of the American throughout the opening half of the round. Kirkland was undeterred, however, and he simply walked through what was coming at him before scoring with his own hurtful punches to the body and combinations upstairs for the majority of the frame.
Both guys engaged in an explosive exchange to begin the third – each fighter taking turns at snapping the other’s head back with heavy punches. That set the tone for the remainder of the round and it was Julio who seemed to have gotten the better of the back and forth. The Colombian battered Kirkland with both hands for prolonged periods but the American was unfazed and he responded in kind throughout the remainder of the round – connecting with energy sapping power to the body that had a visible effect on his opponent.
Indeed, Julio began to show signs of serious fatigue in the fourth and fifth rounds and he was forced to hold frequently as Kirkland unleashed streams of punches against the wounded right eye of his opponent. Julio did connect with sporadic and hard counter right hands upstairs but, for the most part, those punches had the effect of gravel bouncing off a bulldozer and Kirkland kept coming forward – scoring heavily and further wearing his opponent down.
The results of Kirkland’s relentless pressure was evident both on the badly damaged eye of Julio and on the dispirited look etched on the Colombian’s face. After another thumping in the sixth round, Julio’s corner wisely decided that their fighter had endured enough and summoned referee Raul Caiz Jr to request that he stop the contest.
Time of stoppage: End of round six
Young junior welterweight firecracker Victor Ortiz scored a highly impressive second round stoppage victory over former world championship contender Mike Arnaoutis to win the vacant USBA junior welterweight strap and retain his WBO NABO 140lb title.
In what was a measured opening by Ortiz 24-1-1 (19) the young southpaw confidently threw a modest but scoring flow of punches against the body and head of his opponent in the opening round. Arnaoutis 21-3-2 (10) perhaps wary of his young foe’s vaunted power rarely engaged his man and elected instead to employ his footwork to dance around the ring without landing a punch in anger.
Ortiz was patient, however, and he searched menacingly to find an opening for his powerful left hand in the second round. Midway through the frame, his moment came as Arnaoutis shot out a lazy jab which was immediately countered by a stunning left hand to the jaw. The Greek contender buckled and covered up in the corner, inviting Ortiz to unleash a furious 12 punch unanswered assault that forced referee Ray Balewicz to stop the fight.
Time of stoppage: 1:27 RD2
The junior lightweight clash of former 126lb world champion Robert Guerrero and undefeated Indonesian Daud Yourdan ended in a second round no decision after an unintentional clash of heads opened a deep cut above the right eye of the American.
Yourdan 23-0 (17) a largely unknown fighter outside of his homeland, surprised his opponent in the opening stages of the contest with a laser like straight right hand that landed often and accurately in the first couple of rounds. Guerrero 23-1-1 (16) was busier, however, and he scored well to the body with both hands but, midway through the second round, an intriguing fight was ruined after a clash of heads opened a serious cut over the American’s right eye.
Guerrero initially tried to fight through the wound but he was clearly in distress and, after referee John Shorle summoned the ringside doctor to inspect the damage, the fight was stopped after Guerrero indicated that his vision was impaired.
Time of stoppage: 1:47 RD2