By Rick Reeno
Never say never in the world of boxing and strange things happen on a weekly basis. But once you think that you've seen everything in this business, something happens that makes you shake your head in disbelief.
Earlier today, BoxingScene.com was advised that James Kirkland was still feeling pain in his right shoulder and he wouldn't be able to move forward with a scheduled fight with WBC junior middleweight champion Saul "Canelo" Alvarez on September 15th at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
Kirkland's withdrawal came less than 24 hours after a deal was finalized.
The sequence of events are strange. Kirkland advised his management, Cameron Dunkin and Michael Miller, that he worked out in the gym on Thursday night and immediately noticed issues with his right shoulder.
"He called me this morning and told me that he worked out last night and his shoulder felt funny, he felt a twitch. He is afraid that he won't be able to train properly [because he will be worried about injuring the shoulder]. He is sick about it [not being able to fight]," Dunkin told BoxingScene.com.
Following his March disqualification win over Carlos Molina, Kirkland underwent arthroscopic surgery to repair two tears in his right shoulder. It was initially believed that Kirkland would not be able to fight until the month of October. However, Kirkland received his final medical clearance on Wednesday by his treating physician.
Like Dunkin and Miller, Golden Boy Promotions CEO Richard Schaefer believed Kirkland was still being plagued with an injured right shoulder.
However, when Schaefer arrived to the weigh-in for Showtime's Quadrupleheader at the Home Depot Center in Los Angeles, he was shockingly advised that Kirkland is not injured and the boxer is demanding more than double the money to face Alvarez.
Reportedly, Kirkland was going to make a career high amount of nearly $1 million dollars. Kirkland, influenced by a "new adviser" - is now demanding $2.5 million to move forward.
"What happened is, I was told earlier this afternoon that in fact Kirkland was not hurt, he was not injured, he's fine. He made that up, because supposedly he has some new adviser or somebody who's advising him and this guy is supposedly telling him that he should get two and a half million dollars. Obviously its someone who doesn't know what the hell they are talking about because his two mangers, Michael Miller and Cameron Dunkin, they know the realities of the sport and the kind monies that are available. Everything was okay, but someone must have gotten into his ear [and they are making him think] that he can get two and half million dollars. It's ridiculous," Schaefer told BoxingScene.com.
Schaefer doesn't blame Kirkland for the unfortunate series of events.
"I don't really think its James. Sometimes these guys get influenced by people around them, and those people have no idea what they are talking about. They want to make themselves look like they are important but in the process they are hurting the fighter," Schaefer said.
Alvarez (40-0-1, 29KOs) vs. Kirkland (31-1, 27KOs) was scheduled to headline a planned pay-per-view event called "Knockout Kings." A four city press tour was being put together.
Schaefer is not worried about finding an opponent for Canelo's next fight. A crowd of boxers are lining up. One possible option, as reported earlier, is WBA "regular" champion Austin Trout, who defends his title on Showtime's Quadrupleheader against Delvin Rodriguez. Canelo will be ringside to watch Trout, who defeated Canelo's older brother Rigoberto Alvarez last year in Mexico.
"It might be where Canelo is going to fight the winner of Trout and Rodriguez and that would be a unification bout. As you have heard or probably know, [IBF champion] K9 Bundradge is going to be with Golden Boy as well, so maybe he can go and fight K9 Bundrage in the fall and they can go for three belts. And then the winner of that fight will have three belts, and he can go fight the WBO champion [Zaurbek Baysangurov] who is promoted by a friend of ours in Germany," Schaefer said.
"We can do that and Canelo is going to start his road, his conquest to become the undisputed junior middleweight champion on September 15th, so that might be the route that we're taking. At the end of the day it's up to Canelo, it's not up to me on who he fights. He might say 'let's go and unify the titles' and if that's what he wants to do then that's what he wants to do."
"The more popular Canelo Alvarez gets, the bigger he gets, the bigger the list gets of guys who want to fight him and that goes with the territory when you are a superstar like Floyd Mayweather, like Manny Pacquiao, like Canelo Alvarez - there are a lot of guys who want to fight you because they know that they can make the biggest payday."