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15 NOVEMBER 2018

Where am I? Home Columns Marc Livitz

Canelo And Kirkland Promise Fireworks In Houston

Alvarez and Kirkland Go Head To Head
Alvarez and Kirkland Go Head To Head

By Marc Livitz: Saul "Canelo" Alvarez was riding high in 2013 prior to his abrupt down to earth evening in the ring with Floyd Mayweather, Jr. Although he was soundly outpointed in the September 2013 bout which up until next weekend was the richest in boxing history, he kept his head up and returned to the ring a few months later. The fresh faced 24 year old fighter from Jalisco State, MX has long shown that his rise to prominence in the boxing world was far past any suggestion that his image as a red headed anomaly from Mexico was to thank for his success and popularity as opposed to his abilities within the squared circle.


After his loss to Mayweather, Jr., which in and of itself should carry no shame, "Canelo" took two consecutive bouts with hard punching, tough opponents in Alfredo "El Perro" Angulo and Erislandy Lara, respectively. He stopped Angulo in ten rounds in March of last year and then outpointed Lara in July. It’s a bit difficult to not like the young fighter whose appearance beckons comparison to the times of Los San Patricios in Mexico. Alvarez (44-1-1, 31 KO’s) is not taking any steps backwards by any stretch of the imagination heading into his May 9 bout with the fearless and ferocious Austin, TX. fighter, James "Mandingo Warrior" Kirkland (32-1, 28 KO’s) at Minute Maid Park in Houston.


Central Texas boxer Kirkland experienced a humbling of his own a few years ago. Similar to Alvarez but under much different circumstances, Kirkland had established himself as a hot ticket attraction, yet his was by way of his scintillating knockout record. Four years ago, James found himself the owner of a perfect 27-0 record with 24 knockout wins, with many of them taking place in the early rounds of his contests. The night of April 9, 2011 was supposed to be just like any other night for Kirkland. He’d been included as part of an exciting card known as "Action Heroes" at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas (the night included Erik Morales’ valiant effort against Marcos Maidana). Just moments into his contest with Nobuhiro Ishida, who himself had fought almost exclusively in his home country of Japan, "The Mandingo Warrior" was on the canvas. Twice more this took place within the opening round and the bout was stopped.


The loss to an unknown opponent was a big step in the wrong direction for Kirkland, but he has slowly fought his way back. His November 2011 knockout win over Alfredo Angulo was a bout to remember as it featured multiple knockdowns and constant back and forth action. Due to various issues mostly out of the ring, Kirkland did not fight at all in 2014, so his comeback fight of sorts has all the makings of a true battle. The two men as well as their respective trainers and promotional representatives all took part in an international media conference call on Tuesday afternoon. Selected highlights are listed below.


Oscar de La Hoya, President of Golden Boy Promotions: "This should be an explosive night and one to remember. Ticket sales have gone extremely well and we expect a sellout crowd."


Mike Battah, President of Leija-Battah Promotions: "We’re looking forward to a mega fight and a historical event in Houston."


Jesse James Leija, Founder/Owner, Leija-Battah Promotions: "Boxing is a true sport where the best man wins. We have someone who can end the fight in one punch with James Kirkland and then you have a technician in Canelo Alvarez. It’s a great night for Texas and a great night for boxing."


Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson, CEO of SMS Promotions: "Initially, my relationship with Floyd Mayweather is what brought me close to James Kirkland. This can be the fight of the year. Between May 2 and May 9, you’ll see all the sport has to offer. You’ll definitely see the best version of James Kirkland that night."


James Kirkland, Opening Statements: "I’ve put in great amounts of preparation for this fight and I’ve had great sparring. Transition and working has been taking place and I’m eager for the opportunity. I’m more than ready for May 9."


Saul "Canelo" Alvarez, Opening Statements: "I think this is the best fight for me at this time. It’s been talked about for a few years and he’s one of the most dangerous in the division. It didn’t happen then, but it is now. So, I’m just preparing in the best way I can."


Kirkland on his Layoff from Boxing: "I took time away to learn more about boxing. Most of all, I’ve just been getting prepared. I can’t cry over spilled milk. The things I’ve learned have been very positive. I’ve stayed in the gym and never stopped working."


Why he left trainer Anne Wolfe: "The techniques I needed to work on was one of the reasons I had to separate with Anne Wolfe. Heart, determination and will cannot be taken away from me. I thought I needed more to bring to the table than what I had. I take nothing away from her, though. There were things that I had to improve on that I couldn’t with her."


Canelo on fighting KO artist Kirkland: "My goal is to fight the best in the world and to give the fights that the fans want. His style doesn’t matter because I just want to fight the best and I’ll fight anywhere. The fans want to see action and these are the types of fights that will allow the fans to leave happy."


"We know what James Kirkland brings. He’s a very strong and dangerous fighter who comes forward. We’re doing what we need to do to be ready for fight night. I don’t think I’ve fought someone as strong as him."


Kirkland on fighting Canelo: "I definitely feel that I have the power, will, confidence, speed and determination to knock Canelo Alvarez out. I have one loss. I didn’t take training camp seriously because I was in Las Vegas and having a good time. The preparation I’ve put in will all be shown on May 9."


On Training and/or looking for a knockout: "My plan is to be prepared for thirty rounds even if it was scheduled for twenty. If it ends early, then it ends early. If it goes all the way for the full twelve, then it won’t matter because I’m prepared and putting the work in."


"This is what I’ve wanted. The chance came and I went straight to it. The fans want to see this and I’m ready to make big things happen. I’m destined to take care of business on May 9."


Canelo on fighting for fans in Texas: "It motivates me tremendously when I have the support of the fans. It’s a big responsibility and give me the drive to work hard."


On a Future bout with Miguel Cotto: "My only focus and goal is James Kirkland. Talks about a Cotto fight have been around for a long time, but right now I’m focused on Kirkland."


James Kirkland on the same: "Cotto is on my radar, just as he is for Canelo. I would love that opportunity. Still, I don’t know why people talk about a fight before a fight has happened. I don’t like to talk boxing. I just do it."


Canelo on a possible rematch with Floyd Mayweather: "I’ve gained more experience since then, so yes, I’d love the chance, but right now I’m focused on Kirkland."


On Carrying the torch for boxing once Mayweather & Manny Pacquiao Retire: "I’m ready for whatever direction my career goes, so if that’s where I go once they’ve left the sport, then I will be ready for it."


Kirkland’s Closing Statements: "Overall, the ability to go through camps has been the biggest victory for me. I’ve been focused in my training. I’m a force of nature who can overcome anything. No one has the will power that I possess. Even if my opponent adapts, I will have something else."


For further boxing discussion, contact Derek Bonnett and SecondsOut on Facebook. Also, be sure to "LIKE" the SecondsOut Facebook page.


April 21,2015


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