Just before the start of the fifth round of James Kirkland’s systematic mugging of Joel Julio on Saturday night, HBO analyst Max Kellerman posed a rhetorical question to blow-by-blow man Bob Papa: If Kirkland had been cut early in the fight by a headbutt, in front of his hometown fans, would he have chosen to stop fighting? It was an obvious reference to Robert Guerrero’s no-decision against Indonesia’s Daud Yordan in the opening bout of the telecast, which ended in the second round when Guerrero told the ringside physician he couldn’t see out of his right eye.
“No,” Papa replied.
He was right. You get the sense a hammer to the thorax wouldn’t convince Kirkland to surrender, which is one reason he will get lots of exposure and good buzz and ever-bigger paychecks, at least until he runs into someone who can push him backward a bit.