Kirkland KO’s Courter in First Round

By Marc Livitz on August 24, 2019
Kirkland KO’s Courter in First Round
James Kirkland (33-2, 29 KO’s) dropped the hapless Courter three times in the first round.

The last we saw the former middleweight contender in the ring, he was staring up at the lights of Minute Maid Park in Houston…

AUSTIN, Texas—The last we saw middleweight James Kirkland in the ring, he was staring up at the lights of Minute Maid Park in Houston after he suffered a brutal third round knockout at the hands of Saul “Canelo” Alvarez. That was in May of 2015. The event had been touted as makeup date of sorts following what had transpired one week earlier in Las Vegas when Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao effectively put legions of fans to sleep and left them lighter in the wallet. “Capital City Fight Night” at the Frank Erwin Center at the University of Texas indeed had eleven bouts on its docket, yet many fans had come to see the return of the former local hero, James Kirkland. Although he didn’t disappoint in terms of the result, many in attendance felt as though his first round stoppage win over Colby Courter was a wash. 

Courter (13-15, 10 KO’s) looked to swing wide early in an effort to get Kirkland’s attention, although this did him absolutely no good. The “Southpaw Outlaw” was announced to the crowd as the state champion of his home state of Missouri, which ultimately either insulted residents of the state or was a clear misprint on the announcer’s cue card. Through no fault of his own, he simply read what was in front of him and loudly proclaimed, “The boom is back” as “The Mandingo Warrior” made his way to the ring. Simply by using jabs and head movement, Kirkland (33-2, 29 KO’s) dropped the hapless Courter three times in the first round until referee Ruben Perez called the night to a close after James presented Colby with a fourth journey to the canvas with less than forty-five seconds remaining in round one.

The evening began shortly after 7PM local time with a light welterweight attraction between local fighter Robert Garcia, Jr., who pushed his professional record to four wins (all knockouts) with a stoppage win over Houston boxer Antoine Blakely. The official time came at the 1:44 mark when Garcia landed a well placed left hook to the liver, after which Blakely couldn’t answer the count in his debut.

Next came a 172-pound bout between local debutantes Steven Orlando and Peter Villanueva. The first knockdown came midway though round one after Villanueva held his nerve and withstood the wide swinging punches of Orlando. He patiently waited and attacked the body to score the first knockdown in Steven’s own corner, who was able to make it back to his feet. Moments later, a similar approach floored him once again and as before, he regained his footing and made it to the bell. Knockdown number three came in the second round and it proved to be the last call for Orlando after his corner called it at the one minute mark.

Dallas native Guadalupe “The Butcher” Perez brought his twenty-four fight record into the ring next for a 128-pound clash with Austin talent Manny Mondragon, who used his right jab out of his southpaw stance to swarm inward shortly after the opening bell. Perez had the bell to thank for saving him from a likely knockout loss after Mondragon tagged him with a left hook mere moments after the clacking of the wood had sounded. Perez continued to stand in front of him in the second and third, after which he managed to withstand the bulk of what was thrown at him. He’d have to settle for a clear unanimous decision, as all three scorecards read 40-36 in his favor.

Local television coverage began just after 8PM CST with a showdown for the vacant ABF USA Welterweight title between San Antonio native Daniel Baiz and Waco product Marquis Hawthorne. Early on, Baiz appeared to be the more disciplined fighter as he used the entirety of the ring to his advantage and snapped his right jab. Matters quickly changed early in the second when Hawthorne (8-11, 2 KO’s) snuck in a crushing right that sent Baiz (13-2, 5 KO’s) into bewilderment and onto all fours. Daniel did his best to clear the cobwebs, yet he couldn’t regain his balance. Referee Jon Schorle reached the count of ten at the 0:32 point.

The final bout before Kirkland’s return was for the ABF Continental Americas Super Lightweight title, as Houston fighter Gabriel Smith traded shots with Austin product Trey Romero. After a largely even first round, the two Texas combatants spent most of the second in the center of the ring, which brought great delight to the crowd at the Erwin Center, many of which were still slowly filing into their seats.

Romero (11-3-1, 5 KO’s) wore “Slick” Smith down for the bout’s first knockdown shortly before the bell sounded. Gabriel slowly rose to his feet in time to retreat to his corner and proceeded to have a reply in the third with well placed jabs and uppercuts. Throughout the next pair of rounds, the two exchanged hard shots around the ring until Romero dropped Smith for the second time near the end of the fourth. A few minutes later in round five, it happened again in the same fashion. Thus far, Smith (9-1, 4 KO’s) had the good fortune of being dropped close enough to each round’s end to regain his bearings. Although he was able to withstand or rather, eat a left uppercut early in the seventh, his time was basically up. Romero backed him into a corner and threw away until referee Jon Schorle stopped the contest after thirty seven seconds.

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  1. ceylon mooney 06:13pm, 08/27/2019

    jr middleweight contender

  2. Kid Blast 08:49am, 08/25/2019

    “...the state champion of his home state of Missouri…” is like being the second tallest midget in the circus.