Sunday, March 8, 2009

Young Stars Shine: TKO Wins for Ortiz & Kirkland

Michael Nelson recaps all the action from last night's HBO BAD triple-header.

Victor Ortiz and James Kirkland took one more step towards the top of their respective divisions Saturday night when Victor blew out Mike Arnaoutis in two rounds, and Kirkland broke down Joel Julio, stopping him in six. The opening bout ended in a disappointing No Decision when Robert Guerrero made it clear he couldn’t continue after suffering a gash over his right eye in the 2nd round due to a clash of heads with Daud Cino Yordan.

From the opening moments of the main event, it was clear that Joel Julio had his hands full with the suffocating pressure James Kirkland draped over him. Julio retreated as Kirkland swarmed, landing thudding blows to the body and a host of straight lefts off of Joel’s noggin. By the end of the round, a cut had developed over Julio’s right eye, further evidence that he was in for a rough night.

In the 2nd round, Julio started landing straight right hands, but still looked far out of his comfort zone. He was not used to moving; tensely bouncing around the ring, wasting a lot of energy. Kirkland continued to exert his will, shooting punches from a variety of angles and mixing in right hooks to the body.

The 3rd began with Kirkland remaining steadfastly on the prowl. If James’ voracious style is that of a school of piranhas, the water was now saturated with blood. Julio momentarily settled down and the two traded heavy blows midway through the round, with Julio appearing to finally get Kirkland’s attention, if not briefly stunning him.

The 4th and 5th saw Kirkland, now slightly more controlled and deliberate, continue to walk down his tiring foe. The success Joel had earlier was short lived; while he occasionally snapped Kirkland’s head back with a straight right hand, it did little to discourage Kirkland from consistently touching him with straight lefts, uppercuts, and right hooks. Missing the foot work necessary to smoothly circle an aggressive, stronger opponent, Julio continued to move around the ring in awkward bounds, looking as if he wanted the fight to end sooner than later. Moreover, his right eye was quickly closing.

The situation only got more grave in the 6th. James slammed lefts and rights into Joel’s rib cage, intent on making his faltering opponent quit. Julio soldiered on, but his eye was closing and his mouth was agape searching for a second wind. The fight had become a one-sided drubbing and it seemed just a matter of time before Kirkland ended the proceedings with a definitive blow.

With the writing on the wall, Julio’s corner indicated to referee Raul Caiz Jr. that they had seen enough shortly after the 6th ended. Raul waved the fight off, capping off Kirkland’s most impressive win to date.

James Kirkland improved to 25-0 with 22 knockouts with his dominant victory over Joel Julio, who fell to 34-3 with 31 knockouts.

The preceding bout between Victor Ortiz (pictured left with his NABO belt) and Mike Arnaoutis began far more slowly than the main event. The opening stanza was the definition of a feel-out round, with neither man landing anything of significance.

The 2nd began as the 1st ended, with the two combatants circling each other looking for an opening. But Ortiz was clearly the more comfortable fighter, so when Arnaoutis threw a lazy right jab midway through the round, Victor jumped on the opportunity, quickly slipping it and coming back with a powerful left hand that staggered Mighty Mike, driving him into the corner.

Arnaoutis covered up as Ortiz swarmed him with punches, one of them a crushing uppercut that briefly dropped Arnaoutis’ guard. Referee Ray Balewicz saw that as evidence of a man no longer capable of defending himself and stopped the bout. While the referee may have been a bit quick on the trigger, Arnaoutis was getting pounded and wasn’t offering anything in return.

With his impressive show of power, Victor Ortiz is now 24-1-1 with 19 KOs while Mike Arnaoutis dropped to 21-3-2 with 10 KOs.

Daud Cino Yordan surprised many in the opening bout when he was able to land eye-catching right hands and left hooks on the heavily favored Robert Guerrero in the first round. Despite Yordan’s skill level, the fight seemed destined to be an ugly one, at least as long as referee John Schorle allowed Yordan to grab Guerrero on the inside to avoid Guerrero’s withering body attack. The action was staccato, marred by constant clinching. Nevertheless, it was mainly controlled by the 21 year old from Indonesia, which at least added an element of drama early.

That drama was abruptly truncated in the 2nd round after Guerrero and Yordan clashed heads, resulting in a cut directly above Guerrero’s right eye. Guerrero looked at Schorle several times in the 40 seconds that followed, indicating that the gash was bothering him.

Schorle called time. While walking to the ropes for the ring doctor to take a look at it, Guerrero told Schorle that he couldn’t see. Schorle told the ring doctor that Guerrero indicated he couldn’t see, and Guerrero confirmed that the blood dripping in his eye impaired his vision. The doctor, seemingly going solely on Guerrero’s contention that the blood was blinding him, and not on his own diagnosis of how serious the cut was, told the Schorle to stop the fight, and the bout was summarily waved off.

Normally, a doctor wipes the blood off of a cut to take a better look at how deep it is and how likely it is to continue bleeding throughout a fight. Ideally, the same would have been done in this case; while the cut was in a bad spot, it’s within reason that the bleeding could have been halted in the corner, minimizing the significance of the gash and its location.

It's hard to second guess an injured fighter, but you have to wonder if Guerrero may have been more willing to continue if he was in with an opponent a little bit less elusive and less accurate with the right hand. Nevertheless, the fight was declared a No Decision, and both men will hopefully move on to a more fitting style of opponent for crown pleasing bouts.

With the ND, Robert Guerrero is now 23-1-1 with 2 No Decisions and 16 KOs while Daud Cino Yordan is 23-0 with 17 KOs and 1 No Decision.

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