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Kirkland and Ortiz score impressive stoppages; Guerrero vs. Yordan ends in No Contest!

Boxing was the center of attention on Saturday night, in the San Francisco Bay area, where light middleweight prospect James Kirkland and up and coming light welterweight Victor Ortiz scored impressive knockout wins on HBO Boxing After Dark. There were a total of three televised fights that took place at the HP Pavilion in San Jose, California. As I said earlier this week, I failed to cover these fights live due to the fact that I was out of town on Saturday, but I recorded a replay of the telecast on HBO2 a couple nights ago. The card was promoted by Golden Boy Promotions.

James Kirkland TKO6 Joel Julio... James Kirkland showed his perseverance and determination, as he attacked Joel Julio from the get go with combinations and relentless pressure. At times, Julio was the more accurate puncher, as he was able to catch Kirkland with right hands as he was coming straight in. For the most part, Kirkland kept attacking and Julio had not a clue as to how he was going to escape the onslaught. Kirkland opened a cut above Julio's right eye with a left hand at the end of round one.

Julio had his moments, such as round three when he was able to crack Kirkland on the chin with a crisp left hand, but unfortunately for him it didn't even phase Kirkland. Slipping into a mode of retreat as a result of his discomfort for Kirkland's aggressive style, Julio tried to box a little bit more in rounds four and five by using his jab to set up some right hands. Undaunted by anything Julio was able to land, Kirkland continued to punish him with both hands and was beginning to break him down to the body. At the end of the sixth round, the referee decided to stop the contest, noting that Julio's bloody and swollen right eye was only going to worsen as he continued to take punishment for the remaining rounds.

With the win, Kirkland moves to 25-0, 22 KOs. This marks the second consecutive loss for Julio, who had lost a split decision in a title challenge against WBO champion Sergeii Dzinziruk - also a southpaw. Kirkland is definitely a force to be reckoned with in the 154lb weight class, where title holders such as Vernon Forrest, Sergeii Dzinziruk, and Daniel Santos currently campaign. Sergio Martinez, the slick veteran from Argentina who was robbed of a decision win in his draw against Kermit Cintron last month, would be a decent fight for Kirkland.

Personally speaking, I would love to see Kirkland against Alfredo Angulo. That would be a battle of two young undefeated hard-hitting pressure fighters who always enter the ring with intentions of exchanging blows with their opponents.

Victor Ortiz TKO2 Mike Arnaoutis... Victor Ortiz looked sensational, brutally stopping the game and experienced former title challenger Mike Arnaoutis in two rounds. This was an impressive win for Ortiz, as he was able to stop Arnaoutis, who previously took current WBO champion Kendall Holt the distance and also lost a close debatable decision to Ricardo Torres when they fought for the vacant WBO title a few years back. As Max Kellerman pointed out, Ortiz looked a bit tight in the first round.

After a feeling out process, in what was slow first round won by Ortiz primarily based on his activity, Ortiz stunned Aranoutis with a lunging left hand that immediately drove Arnaoutis into the ropes. Sensing that Aranoutis was hurt and possibly ready to be taken out, Ortiz pursued him by attacking with a vicious barrage of punches. Shortly thereafter, the referee jumped in and waved the fight off to protect Arnaoutis from taking unnecessary punishment.

Ortiz, who looks to be the future of boxing once aging stars like Shane Mosley, Bernard Hopkins, and Juan Manuel Marquez are no longer actively fighting, is currently in the process of crossing over from prospect to contender at this early stage of his career. He will probably fight one more opponent, who is on the level of an Arnaoutis and then hopefully a top 10 contender en route to a title shot or a meaningful big money match up with one of the division's elite.

Robert Guerrero NC2 Daud Yordan... In the opening bout it appeared as though Robert Guerrero was going to get all he could handle, in from of his adoring home town fans, from the relatively unknown and undefeated Daud Yordan of Indonesia. Yordan was able to catch Guerrero with a few left hooks and right hands, as Guerrero was coming forward and trying to land leather on his opponent. Yordan won the first round on my scorecard, but scorecards would become irrelevant as both fighters clashed heads, opening a cut above Guerrero's right eye. The referee called time, directed Guerrero to the ring side physician, and Guerrero claimed that his sight was impaired by severity of the cut and the bleeding.

The referee called a halt to the bout and it was declared a no-contest. HBO's ringside expert commentator and former three time heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis mentioned that Guerrero could have fought on for another couple of rounds, and after four rounds the fight would've gone to the scorecards in adherence to the rules of the bout, thus giving him a chance to earn a victory in front of his home town crowd. Point well taken on Lewis's behalf, but I think Guerrero knew that he was going to be in for a tough night. Would Guerrero have been in any jeopardy of losing had the fight continued? That we will never know, but what is not up for debate is that the referee's duty is to protect the fighter's health and safety. Had that fight continued, perhaps the cut would have opened even more and become more of a hazard.
television: HBO Boxing After Dark

While it is true that champions like Bernard Hopkins, Manny Pacquiao, Juan Manuel Marquez, and Shane Mosley will not be around forever, it is becoming abundantly clear that we are getting some fresh young faces to carry boxing into the new generation. After all, the fighters that fans have fallen in love with over the course of time had to start some where.

Here in 2009, we are just beginning to get a glimpse of these young gladiators who are marching their respective paths to world championships. Some of them, such as undefeated WBO super bantamweight champion Juan Manuel Lopez, who will be seen in a title defense on HBO April 25, have already won a title.

I'm looking forward to seeing Lopez's next fight against WBO Bantamweight Champion Gerry Penalosa, who is coming up in weight to face Lopez. I also look forward to seeing Kirkland, Ortiz, and Angulo in their next appearances. According to an interview with Angulo, conducted by Ryan Burton on Boxingtalk, Angulo will next appear on the undercard of the recently rescheduled Dawson vs. Tarver rematch on May 9. According to Golden Boy Promotions Senior Executive Richard Schaefer, Kirkland and Ortiz will be probably be fighting again on June 27.

Again, who said boxing was dying?