On his home turf, where most of the fans were pro-Canelo, Kirkland attempted to fight fire with fire from the first bell, although the inactive fighter was predictably left face down on the canvas in a heap.
Canelo put Kirkland on the floor in the very first round and almost finished the fight at the very end of the opening session, but then bided his time as his opponent continually left himself wide open for the uppercut and right hook.
In the third round, the 24 year-old connected with that uppercut to put drop Kirkland, and as referee Jon Schorle allowed the contest to go on, Canelo capitalized with a huge right hand that laid the American out with no need for a count.
Kirkland, 31, lost for the second time in his career in what was his first outing for 18 months and will have to reassess where he goes next and whether failing to call on the services of old trainer Ann Wolfe was the right thing to do.
Despite a good opening 30 seconds, the ‘Mandingo Warrior’ was never likely to put a further dent in Canelo’s impressive record and will need to be built back up slowly once he irons out his defensive frailties.
For Canelo, the sky is the limit as fights with Miguel Cotto and Gennady Golovkin now large loom on the horizon.