On May 2, as all boxing fans know, Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao laid a giant egg in their much-ballyhooed megafight, one that generated a record-slaughtering $600 million or so at the box office but little excitement or drama between the ropes.
The sport of boxing suffered from that hangover for much of the rest of the year. However, a brief respite came one week later, on May 9, when Canelo Alvarez, one of boxing's biggest stars, and power brawler James Kirkland met at 155 pounds in front of a wild, pro-Alvarez crowd of 31,588 at Minute Maid Park in Houston.
They delivered an action-packed slugfest that ended in violent fashion, with Alvarez annihilating Kirkland with one thunderous right hand for the 2015 ESPN.com knockout of the year.
Kirkland, already dropped in the first round, went down again on the end of a pinpoint right uppercut with about a minute remaining in the third. After the bloodied Kirkland beat the count, referee Jon Schorle told him, "Show me something." But Kirkland had nothing left.
Alvarez went right at him and backed him into the ropes before dropping the hammer. He touched Kirkland to the stomach with a left jab and followed with a devastating right hand to the jaw that connected flush, spun Kirkland halfway around into the ropes and sent him crashing to the canvas, his arms over his head, his eyes closed and blood visible inside his open mouth and smeared on his face. Schorle immediately waved off the fight at 2 minutes, 19 seconds.
"There's a perfect straight right hand, and Schorle's gonna stop the fight," HBO's Hall of Fame broadcaster Jim Lampley exclaimed. "What a performance by Canelo Alvarez."
Medical personnel rushed to Kirkland's side as Alvarez, who with the victory had blasted his way into a Nov. 21 middleweight world title shot against Miguel Cotto, bent over his fallen foe to make sure he was OK. Kirkland went to the hospital for precautionary reasons, and Alvarez savored his big win that was punctuated by a sensational knockout.
"I'm happy about the win," Alvarez said matter-of-factly. "The result was what I expected."
Other sweet shots:
2. Mairis Briedis KO5 Manuel Charr (Aug. 22 at Grozny, Russia)
Briedis, an unbeaten heavyweight, took on his first legitimate opponent in ex-title challenger Charr and absolutely ruined him by spectacular knockout. In the waning seconds of the fifth round, Briedis landed a clean right uppercut on Charr's chin, instantly turning out his lights. But Briedis continued with his combination, crushing Charr with a left hook to the jaw that sent Charr crashing face first. Already unconscious, Charr was unable to break his fall and landed hard on the bottom rope. His limp body was draped over the rope, half inside the ring, half on the apron, with his hands at his side as referee Irakly Malazonia immediately waved off the fight at 2:55. Charr, who never saw the punch, was down for several minutes while receiving medical attention.
3. Krzysztof Glowacki KO11 Marco Huck (Aug. 14 at Newark, N.J.)
The fight was supposed to be a coronation for Huck, who had come to the United States to fight for the first time hoping to set the all-time cruiserweight title defense record at 14. Instead he found himself getting drilled in a fantastic fight that ended with Huck's body limply slithering down the ropes after getting pummeled. Huck had dropped Glowacki in a sensational sixth round and was ahead on all three scorecards as they went to the 11th. But Glowacki rallied to drop Huck for the first time in his career. Huck was badly hurt, and referee David Fields could have stopped the fight, but he allowed Huck to continue. Glowacki hammered Huck with a series of big shots, mainly overhand lefts that finally drove him into the ropes, and Huck slumped between them. Fields waved off the epic fight at 2:39. "Huck is in major trouble! It's over! It's over! It's over! The streak is over," Spike announcer Scott Hanson roared. "Glowacki with the amazing 11th-round knockout to win the cruiserweight championship!"
4. Enzo Maccarinelli KO4 Roy Jones Jr. (Dec. 12 at Moscow)
An all-time great a decade removed from his reign as pound-for-pound king, Jones suffered another savage knockout in this cruiserweight match with Maccarinelli, a faded but still heavy-handed former cruiserweight titlist. Jones, 46, looked out of shape, and he paid the price. He got dropped by a right uppercut with 90 seconds left in the fourth round and never recovered. Moments later, Maccarinelli landed several hard punches before finishing Jones with a clean right hand to the head that sent Jones crashing to the mat face first. Jones didn't move, and his legs twitched. Referee Ingo Barrabas immediately stopped it at 1:59 as medical personnel rushed to Jones, who was down for a few minutes before being put on his stool and given oxygen. This was about as bad as it gets and should signal the end of Jones' career.
Tied 5. Yenifel Vicente KO3 Juan Dominguez (Dec. 8 at Trenton, N.J.)
Dominguez, a junior featherweight, came into the fight as an undefeated prospect and left on a stretcher after Vicente obliterated him 20 seconds into the third round with a heavy right hand to the head that he never saw. Dominguez pitched forward, spun around and slammed into the canvas. He was out cold on his back in the center of the ring as referee Earl Brown waved off the fight and summoned medical attention. Dominguez was given oxygen, put in a neck brace and taken to the hospital as a precaution.
Tied 5. Gabriel Bracero KO1 Danny O'Connor (Oct. 10 at Lowell, Mass.)
Bracero came into the fight with 23 wins and only four knockouts. A puncher he is not, but don't tell that to O'Connor, whom he shockingly starched in just 41 seconds. In a welterweight rematch of a 2011 fight Bracero won by decision, Bracero stunningly ended the sequel with a single right hand to the jaw over O'Connor's lazy left. O'Connor was out cold even before his head viciously hit the mat, prompting referee Arthur Mercante Jr. to stop the fight without a count.
More monster shots: Middleweight Peter Quillin KO5 Michael Zerafa; junior middleweight Acelino "Popo" Freitas KO3 Mateo Veron; junior welterweight Amir Imam KO4 Fernando Angulo; heavyweight Joseph Parker KO1 Bowie Tupou; heavyweight Izuagbe Ugonoh KO2 Will Quarrie; heavyweight Donovan Dennis KO2 Razvan Cojanu; featherweight Claudio Marrero KO2 Rico Ramos.