Boxing's Best Of 2011

By Eric Raskin

The 12 Days of Christmas are fun and all, but for fight fans, the end of 2011 is all about seven days of boxing. From December 26-29, HBO will replay the seven most memorable boxing matches of the year, including Fight of the Year candidates, history-makers and record-breakers, featuring some of the biggest superstars in the sport.

One thing all seven fights had in common was that they featured at least one combatant with something serious to prove (which is a not-uncommon ingredient in fights that turn out to be as great in the ring as they appear on paper). We’ll break down the action of all seven fights, with a little help from HBO commentator Max Kellerman.

Read More at HBO.com

PunchStat Report: Kirkland KO 6 Angulo

By CompuBox

Kirkland survived an early knockdown to outland the game Angulo 131-24 in power shots over the next five rounds.  77% of their combined landed punches were power shots (216 of 286).   Kirkland averaged 101 punches thrown in rounds one thru five.

Kirkland Wins by Sixth-Round TKO

By Chuck Johnson

Photo by Will Hart

With two of the most aggressive fighters in the sport facing off, expectations for all-out war became reality Saturday night soon after the opening bell.

Pugilistic purgatory, or in other words fighting hell, was a journey that James “Mandingo Warrior”

Kirkland and Alfredo “El Perro” Angulo both proved willing to give and take in their scheduled 12-round junior middleweight bout from Cancun, Mexico on HBO’s Boxing After Dark.  READ MORE AT HBO.COM

CompuBox Analysis: Alfredo Angulo vs. James Kirkland

By CompuBox

In 2008 and 2009, Alfredo Angulo and James Kirkland appeared to be on a collision course -- with the emphasis on collision. They campaigned in the same weight class, they were bombs-away sluggers and at one point they boasted a combined record of 40-0 with 34 knockouts, including 26 in the first three rounds.

But the spring of 2009 proved brutal for both. In April, Kirkland was arrested -- then jailed -- on a weapons charge and the following month Kermit Cintron collared a flu-ridden "El Perro" by decision in a title eliminator. Worse yet, in the fall of 2010 it was discovered that Angulo had entered the U.S. illegally and was returned to his native Mexico.

Each man has since overcome his adversities -- at least in part -- and returned to the ring with mixed results. Since losing to Cintron Angulo has scored five wins, all by knockout, while Kirkland's road has been rockier -- four wins, all by KO, but also a shocking one-round TKO loss to 35-year-old Nobuhiro Ishida sandwiched between the victories.

Will Angulo and Kirkland produce the anticipated fireworks? And if so, who will prevail? Their respective CompuBox histories offer these clues:

> Read more CompuBox analysis of Alfredo Angulo vs. James Kirkland on HBO.com

Fan Predictions: Angulo Likely Winner, KO Definite Result

We asked the fans who they think will come out on top in this weekend's fight between Alfredo Angulo and James Kirkland and a resounding 880 out of 1,135 of Facebook respondents predicted a win for Angulo. But that wasn't as dominant as the 91% of HBO.com commenters who predicted  that this fight will end in a KO. These fighters aren't looking to go the distance, but to inflict as much hurt as they can before the fight gets stopped.

Here's a sample of what you had to say:

-    I am not too crazy about Kirkland's defense. He gets caught with clean shots too often. If his opponent is a sharp boxer with short tight, heavy shots, he's a goner. – Stephanie H (Facebook)

-    Angulo vs Kirkland...Amazing matchmaking! Angulo stops him in under 6. Everyone should get there early! - @fearless_kingmo (Twitter)

-    Angulo's going to finish what Ishida started. – Ruben D. (Facebook)

-    I got the opportunity to watch James train, some years ago and i thought the kid had the " eye of the tiger ". Unfortunately, his skill level wasn't quite a tiger. He can punch with the best of them, but his defense is wicked BAD. Also his footwork, hasn't been worked on. He's going in the ring with a guy, who's known to go for broke. Could very well be one of the best slug fest of the year. ......and the winner is? Somebodies going down, and not getting up. – Vic T. (HBO.com)

-    With Ann Wolfe in his corner Kirkland cant lose, I say @JKirklandChamp will KO Angulo in 7. – @DoloD47 (Twitter)

-    #AnguloKirkland prediction? PAIN - @sgtvicvas6 (Twitter)

-    Angulo could knock Kirkland out with the wind from a missed punch...he got knocked down 3 times by the same damn punch,  I give him no chance –j. whitley  (HBO.com)

-    "Kirkland is being feed to a Lion to elevate Angulo career. Angula by a OK by 6th round. – Clifford D. (Facebook)

-    What most people don't know is that James Kirkland is one of the toughest human beings alive. Mental toughness! This fight will expose that. Angulo is NO JOKE. It will take all of Kirkland's will and desire to put Angulo away, but put him away he will. Ann Wolfe is the roughest, toughest, hungriest trainer alive and together they are unstoppable. I pick Kirkland by TKO in 6 or 7. But make no mistake about it, this is going to be an AWESOME fight. If by chance it goes the distance, it may be the fight of the year. Kenny Butler -- (HBO.com)

-    Kirkland better bring his A game cause Angulo is a BEAST... – Eddie H (Facebook)

With a Wolfe in His Corner, Kirkland Faces Down a Bulldog

By Kieran Mulvaney

Photo Credit: Ed Mulholland

A few months ago, Ann Wolfe, the trainer of middleweight James Kirkland described her feelings about the kind of opponent her charge had been facing of late:

“They want to give us meat that's already dead,” she told me. “A real predator don't want no cooked meat. You keep feeding a damn lion meat out of the refrigerator, it's gonna lose its predatory instincts. We want something raw, with its eyeballs looking at us, so we can kill it and eat it."

Kirkland, of course, had once been on a seemingly unstoppable upward trajectory, blasting his way through opponent after opponent, until being arrested and jailed in 2009 for a firearms violation. On his return to the ring in early 2011, he mowed down a couple of uninspiring opponents before walking into the unheralded fists of Nobuhiro Ishida, bouncing off the canvas three times in the opening round, and suffering his first and so far only defeat.

In the immediate aftermath of that upset, his promotional and management teams fed him relatively soft opposition – the ‘dead meat’ Wolfe referred to – until fighter and trainer insisted on being let off the leash.

And so they have been. In a mouth-watering contest on Boxing After Dark this Saturday night, Kirkland, with a Wolfe in his corner, will stare across the ring at a dog, Alfredo ‘El Perro’ Angulo.

Like Kirkland, Angulo is once-defeated. Like Kirkland, Angulo tends to end his business inside the distance (17 of his 20 wins are by KO or TKO, against 26 of 29 for Kirkland). Neither man is known for his subtlety nor his boxing finesse; each man enters the ring on a mission to seek and destroy. If there is a perceived difference, it is in the chin department: even en route to victory, Kirkland has been felled, whereas Angulo’s jaw has yet to be dented. But that jaw has yet to taste punching power like Kirkland’s.

The odds on either man winning a decision, therefore, are long. This is a clash that has knockout written all over it.

So do not get up to go to the kitchen. A trip to the refrigerator will be unnecessary and ill-advised. Like most meals, this one is likely to take far less time to consume than to prepare; but, potential brevity notwithstanding, it promises to be immensely satisfying.