HBO Boxing Preview: Canelo Alvarez vs. James Kirkland
By: William Holmes
Official Weights from Houston:
Canelo Alvarez: 154.5 lbs.
James Kirkland: 154.5 lbs.
Now that the #fightofthecentury, aka #shouldergate, aka #credentialgate is over fight fans can focus their attention on other boxers that have the potential to fill the void once Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao decide to retire.
On Saturday night at Minute Maid Park in Houston, Texas, Saul “Canelo” Alvarez will face off against James Kirkland in a twelve round junior middleweight bout. No title will be on the line, but this will be Canelo’s first fight on HBO since Golden Boy Promotions left Showtime and it is imperative for Canelo and for Golden Boy that he puts on a good showing.
Frankie Gomez, Freddie Roach’s most prized prospect, will also be fighting on the undercard and will face Humberto Soto in the junior welterweight division.
The following is a preview of both of the above mentioned bouts.
Frankie Gomez (18-0) vs. Humberto Soto (65-8-2); Junior Welterweights
Saul “Canelo” Alvarez (44-1-1) vs. James Kirkland (32-1); Junior Middleweights
There are many in boxing who consider Canelo be the best boxer in the world outside of Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao and are hoping a fight between Canelo and Miguel Cotto can be made in the fall.
But Canelo has to get past James Kirkland first in order for a Cotto bout to become a reality, and Kirkland will be a very tough out.
Canelo is seven years younger than Kirkland but has thirteen more professional bouts. Kirkland lost several years fighting as a pro due to legal problems, but he has a very high knockout percentage. Kirkland has stopped twenty eight of his opponents including four of his past five fights while Canelo has stopped thirty one of his opponents but has only stopped two of his past five.
Kirkland has a successful amateur career and made it to the finals of the National Golden Gloves while Canelo won the Junior Mexican National Boxing Championships and turned professional at the age of fifteen. They will both be identical in height and reach.
Canelo’s last bout was ten months ago when he defeated Erislandy Lara in a close split decision in Las Vegas, Nevada. He has also defeated the likes of Alfredo Angulo, Austin Trout, Josesito Lopez, Shane Mosley, Kermit Cintron, and Carlos Baldomir. His lone loss was the Floyd Mayweather Jr. in September of 2013, which was much wider than what the scorecards indicated.
Kirkland’s lone loss of his career came in a shocking knockout to Nobuhiro Ishida in April of 2011. He has since rebounded and won five fights in a row. His biggest victories to date have come against Glen Tapia, Carlos Molina, Alfredo Angulo, and Joel Julio. Kirkland has power and he can excite, but he has been largely inactive as of late.
This will only be Kirkland’s third time stepping inside the ring since 2012 and he didn’t have a single fight in all of 2014. Kirkland has also ditched long time trainer Anne Wolfe, who many credit for his power and stamina.
If Kirkland were to have his long time trainer in his corner for Saturday and hadn’t taken nearly a year and a half off from boxing he would have a legitimate shot at upsetting Canelo Alvarez. But Canelo is too good of a boxer to be facing in the ring after not having taken a punch in such a long time, and the ring rust will affect Kirkland in the ring.