Azn Badger's Blog

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Kirkland/Angulo: One Of The Best Opening Rounds I’ve Ever Seen


I’ve always found it interesting that the first round of a boxing contest is commonly known as the “feeling out” round.

During the first 3 minutes of a typical boxing match, it’s usually expected that the fighters will be tentative, cautious, and in the case of a southpaw/conventional matchup; just plain awkward.

The first round is when fighters begin to gauge one another’s reach and distance, begin to jockey for good positioning, begin to time one another’s movements, and begin to lay the groundwork for slowing or speeding up the pace of the fight in their favor.

In a sport filled with metaphors to it, the first round in boxing truly is one of the most profound examples of liminality in the ring.

While many would look upon the a boxing match as a barbaric and savage affair, established elements of the game like the “feeling out” round serve as crystal clear reminders that, boxing may not be an inherently gentlemanly sport, but when everything comes together; there really an artful science to it.

That being said, as flowery and poetic as I’ve done my best to make it sound, the sport of boxing is at it’s core, a sport that deals in little more than 2 men standing before one another and pounding the shit out of another.

Though it undoubtedly helps a great deal, particularly in regards to extending the longevity of one’s career, one does not need to be a technical genius to succeed in the sport of professional boxing.

In the right quantity, sometimes guts, raw physicality, and unerring tenacity can be enough to carry the day.

Such was the case when James Kirkland and Alfredo Angulo clashed last night in their highly anticipated bout at 154 lbs.

Pictured: Kirkland and Angulo. Jesus fuck, Angulo is ugly...

On the one hand we had James Kirkland, a stout and atypically muscular whirlwind of a fighter coming off a first loss in the form of a sudden and bizarre first round knockout to Nobuhiro Ishida, as well as a recent stint in prison for illegal firearms possession.

On the other, we have Alfredo Angulo, a bestial Bionic Mexican of the highest order with only one prior loss to the intensely bipolar Kermit Cintron.

Curiously enough, Angulo came into last night’s fight following a fairly recent Visa debacle, resulting in his deportation from the United States for the past 2 years.

In a nutshell, both fighters came into the ring last night highly regarded prospects with explosive punching power, aggressive head-first fighting styles, and less than exemplary records in regards to U.S. laws and regulations.

On paper, the matchup between these sounded like fireworks all the way.

While the fireworks didn’t last all the way through the fight, I’ll be damned if I’ve seen a first round as dramatic and visceral this side of Hagler/Hearns.

Pictured: One of the best damn fights you'll ever see.

From the opening bell, both guys stepped to center ring with bad intentions.

Kirkland came out swinging, asserting his dominance through swarming Angulo with volleys of clubbing punches at close range.

Possessed of a naturally aggressive and stalking style, Angulo took some shots in the opening 30 seconds, though his amateur pedigree occasionally shined through as he evaded shots calmly and efficiently.

Even so, the first 30-40 seconds were all Kirkland, as his attack proved so constant and smothering, that the typically offensive-minded Angulo barely managed to get off a shot.

That all changed around the 1 minute mark, on the strength of a single, heatseeking missile of a straight right hand delivered by Angulo smack dab onto the point of Kirkland’s chin.

Time seemed to freeze as Kirkland backed Angulo into corner, swinging with wild abandon, only for the courageous Mexican to suddenly step forward during a millisecond break in the action, and knock Kirkland onto his backside with one of his first cleanly landed punches in the fight.

Earlier, I mentioned James Kirkland was knocked out by Nobuhiro Ishida in the first round.

While I neglected to mention that Ishida managed to knock him down 3 times in said round, I feel it’s perhaps much more important to make mention of the fact that, despite the increasingly senile and ignorant Joe Cortez’ decision to stop the fight, Kirkland made an earnest and capable attempt to stand up every time.

Hurt, and downed 3 times, James Kirkland need to be held down by the referee in order for the contest to be brought to a halt.

If ever there were a man who defined the word “tough,” for my money it’d have to be James Kirkland.

That being said, as you might have expected, Kirkland did in fact get up from the bunker busting right hand to his jaw courtesy of Alfredo Angulo.

Not only that, while most trainers likely would have chastised him for doing so, Kirkland stood up almost immediately following the knockdown, taking nearly all of the standing 8 count on his feet.

Fortunately for James Kirkland, he trains under Ann Wolfe, who as I hope we all know, enjoys watching her fighters dole out beatings as much as she does watching them take them.

Said philosophy may not work on all occasions, but as I said before, sometimes guts count for more than anything else, and last night; you can sure as hell bet that rang true.

Storming out of the neutral corner, Angulo’s previously dormant offense erupted with an explosive torrent of punches.

On shaky legs, Kirkland foolishly stood his ground and attempted to stand and trade with rubbery arms, eating thunderous barrages of punches to the head in the process.

Eventually chasing the Gumby-legged Kirkland into the ropes and all around the ring, Angulo continued to pour on the punishment, landing blows at arms length while the referee continued to watch Kirkland like a hawk in anticipation of what appeared to be an inevitable stoppage.

After 20-30 seconds or so though, it became apparent that Kirkland was not nearly as enfeebled as he seemed.

Sure he was off-balance, and still very much in trouble, as well as largely unable to put the mustard on his punches in the way that made him famous; but amidst the beating he was taking, he was also doing well to deflect blows with his forearms, as well as occasionally tie-up Angulo.

Make no mistake, Kirkland was still very much a hurt man at this point, but he was a hurt man that with a plan and bad intentions.

For nearly a minute and a half, Angulo rained down blows on Kirkland unopposed, however as tends to be the case when a fighter fires on all cylinders against a man that just won’t quit; Angulo eventually began to slow.

Though under great duress, and eating hard punches every step of the way, slowly but surely, James Kirkland began to work his way back into the fight.

Pictured: Kirkland strikes back.

It didn’t happen all at once, but in the last minute of the round, Angulo’s fatigue got the better of him, and his once crackling punches began to come out at almost comically slow speeds.

Looking like a weary fighter caught in a time warp, Angulo found himself in the most unfavorable of positions:

Out of gas, and faced with a man who had not only already taken his best shots, but had almost fully recovered from them.

Slipping and deflecting Angulo’s sluggish punches, Kirkland quickly jumped back on the offensive and miraculously pushed Angulo back on his heels with an accurate head and body attack.

No longer swinging for the fences, nor fighting with pure aggression, Kirkland laid into Angulo with a varied and intelligent assault that one wouldn’t expect given his usual wild demeanor.

That being said, following an intensely dramatic, back-and-forth first round, with the lead changes hands literally from minute to minute, James Kirkland gave the boxing world an astonishing gift by handing Alfredo Angulo his first knockdown in professional boxing with seconds to spare.

It wasn’t a flashy down, nor did it seem to be the result of any one punch, but it was legit, and it firmly secured Kirkland’s lead for the remainder of the evening.

Given the state of Angulo, having just been knocked down for the first time after having completely drained his stamina over 3 minutes, it was hard to see him lasting much longer in the fight.

For 5 more rounds, a startlingly fresh Kirkland clubbed away at a groggy and active, but largely ineffectual Angulo before the mighty Mexican would eventually succumb to the rising tide and be saved from himself via an early, but entirely justified TKO stoppage in the 6th round.

Pictured: The fight reaches it's conclusion.

In watching this amazing display of intestinal fortitude, one couldn’t help but feel a little sorry for Angulo, but at the same time awed by his capacity to push forward despite his damage and fatigue.

Even so, my personal opinion was that, had James Kirkland had more accurate and sharper punches, chances are Angulo would’ve been laid out no later than the 3rd round.

It’s a strange criticism for what easily amounted to a career defining, Round of the Year shoo-in performance, but one that I feel is entirely valid nonetheless.

Kirkland/Angulo may not be the best opening round of boxing I’ve ever seen, but it’s the best I’ve seen in a long time, most likely the best ever fought in my lifetime, and in my eyes; not far from second best to the magic of Hagler/Hearns.

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Used Game Store Grand Opening Today!

Pictured: My buddy posing with a Halo dude. No, I don't ACTUALLY know Wes Studi. One can dream though...

Today I was fortunate to have attended the grand opening of a new used game store in my neighborhood.

Technically it was actually re-opening of a currently existing store, but in all fairness the changes made to the building were extensive to the point of being a brand new facility.

The store was called Game Gurus, and to my surprise; they went out of their way to throw a little party for their grand opening.

There were free hot dogs and popcorn, 50 cent games for sale in the parking lot, (mostly crap, but even so, 50 cents for a 360 game is pretty good regardless) and a raffle giveaway every 10 minutes.

For what essentially amounts to a mom and pop videogame store, I was amazed by the great lengths that the owners went to in making a good first impression.

While I was mulling about in front of the store, rooting through the cheap games my friend and I, who shall henceforth be referred to as Wes Studi; happened to notice an enthusiastic fellow customer perusing the wares while wearing what appeared to be a ODST getup.

Wes Studi insisted I take a photo of the 2 of them together, and as you can see at the top of this post; I did just that.

For a guy that’s not really up on cosplay, I have to say; they guy had some pretty snazzy digs.

Seriously man, the guy had some sort of microphone system built into the helmet that made him sound all loud and bell diver-ish.

Anyway, as impressive as the outdoor festivities were, the actual store itself was something to behold.

Though the shelves and inventory were arranged much like a typical Gamestop, there were a lot of little bells and whistles in Game Gurus that will no doubt lead to the risk of theft; but were nevertheless enticing to potential customers like myself.

For instance, throughout the store there were several monitors hung from the ceilings, each with a playable game console and single controller hanging from the ceiling like a mobile.

I saw lots of people messing around with these demo rigs, and it put a smile on my face to see little kids stand on their tippy-toes to try and get a grip on the dangling controllers.

In addition to this, there was also free to play, 2 player MAME arcade rig with Street Fighter Alpha 2 loaded on it.

I played Wes Studi a few times, and though my joysticks’ kick buttons weren’t functioning, I had a lot of fun.

By the way, I won every round.

*ANYWAY* On our way out, Wes Studi and I also took a minute to check out the “back room” of the store, where they store not porn; but rather a cache of about 6 Xbox 360’s running Black Ops, Marvel vs. Capcom 3, and a few other shooters.

From what I understood, all of these rigs are free to play on the weekends, which in my opinion; is a great gesture to make the store out to be a neighborhood hang out for the kids.

Despite all the fun toys scattered about, the one thing that made me think to myself, “I might have to come back here sometime;” was the fact that the inventory was pretty solid.

While obscure consoles like the Turbografx 16 and Wonderswan weren’t on display, pretty much every major American console from the 8-bit era up was for sale, along with countless games to go with them.

Best of all, they had seemed to have a fairly robust selection of Super NES titles, with many of the rarer titles coming with their original packaging.

While I saw some extraordinarily rare stuff there, Wes Studi and I both ended up walking away with pretty basic stuff.

Having no job will do that to yah’…

Wes picked himself up a copy of Eternal Darkness, Mega Man X: Command Mission, and Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles, while I got Pitfall: The_Mayan_Adventure, Gradius III, and X-Men: Mutant Apocalypse at a special 2-for-1 price.

Nothing special, but I saved a few bucks and walked away happy regardless.

All in all, I was wholeheartedly impressed with all the love and hard work that obviously went into the new Game Gurus store.

I sincerely thank the owners for their efforts, not just to make a good neighborhood store; but to reach out to the kids in the area and provide a fun place for them to hang out.

Back in my day, if I wanted to go to an arcade my only option was a laundromat with Primal Rage and Area 51.

Given that it’s within walking distance of my house, and the fact that Pink Gorilla’s inventory has been kind of iffy in the Super NES area as of late; I could see myself doing a lot of my retro game shopping at Game Gurus from now on.

That’s not a knock on Pink Gorilla, ’cause don’t get me wrong, I love them; but I’m jus’ sayin’ is all…

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