Canelo Alvarez Knocks out James Kirkland in third-round

Canelo Alvarez Knocks out James Kirkland in third-round

Canelo Alvarez gave the fans at Minute Maid Park what they waited for and wanted Saturday night. A knockout.

Alvarez knocked out Kirkland with a sweeping right at 2 minutes, 19 seconds of the third round in their 154-pound fight late Saturday night at Minute Maid Park.

When he faced the media to discuss the victory, many of the questions focused on whether he’ll fight Cotto next. If the two meet, the expected pay-per-view fight could come in the fall. Cotto will face Daniel Geale on June 6 at the Barclays Center.

“It’s a fight that’s a natural, and of course, I would fight him,” Alvarez said. “I’m ready to fight the best. I’m willing to fight anybody.”

Moments after getting up from being decked with a flurry of punches, Kirkland took a devastating knockout punch and collapsed to the canvas on his back.

“I did not see the punch coming that knocked me out,” he said.

Alvarez celebrated for a moment before realizing Kirkland was still down and going to check on him.

“At the end of the day you don’t want him to be injured badly,” Alvarez said. “I was a little worried about him, and as soon as I found out that he was OK, I started celebrating again.”

Kirkland was taken to a hospital for a CT scan. Bernard Hopkins, helping promote the fight, said Kirkland was responsive and OK.

Alvarez (45-1-1, 32 KOs) returned from a 10-month break to beat Kirkland (32-2, 28 KOs), who was back in the ring after a 17-month layoff.

Alvarez threw 150 punches — 47 fewer than Kirkland — but he connected on 87 to just 42 by Kirkland.

“Once I dropped him the first time I knew I had him,” Alvarez said.