By Jake Donovan
Amidst the massive amount of fights on HBO, Showtime and elsewhere around the boxing world on Saturday evening, there is one match that everyone has targeted for pure unadulterated violence.
That would be the HBO-televised co-feature, pitting unbeaten Glen Tapia versus comebacking super welterweight contender James Kirkland. The two are scheduled to slug it out for ten rounds or less at the Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, in the chief support to Guillermo Rigondeaux defending his lineal super bantamweight championship versus former bantamweight titlist Joseph Agbeko.
Kirkland (31-1, 27KO) hasn’t fought since a controversial 10th round disqualification win over Carlos Molina in March 2012. The night itself was a momentum-squashing occasion, removing much of the luster that came with his off-the-canvas 6th round knockout of Alfredo Angulo in their unforgettable Nov. ’11 slugfest.
Much of the past 21 months since his last ring appearance has been spent severing ties with past management and promoters, leading him to free agent status heading into tonight’s affair.
Tapia (20-0, 12KO) boasts youth, camera-ready looks and an eye-catching in-ring style that makes him a must-watch prospect in the sport. The New Jersey prospect proved his worth with an 8th round stoppage of Abie Han in an ESPN2-televised matchup of unbeaten prospects this past July. Tonight’s co-feature – marking his HBO debut – serves as Tapia’s fifth fight of 2013.
Will youth prevail, or is heart and power enough for a rusty yet still relevant contender to return to title contention.
Read on to see how the Boxingscene.com staff envisions tonight’s super welterweight affair playing out in Atlantic City.
PREDICTIONS – GLEN TAPIA vs. JAMES KIRKLAND
“I like Tapia by late stoppage against Kirkland in the biggest win of his career. Tapia is young, fresh and hungry and Kirkland is still young and hungry but no longer fresh.”
- Mitch Abramson (Tapia TKO9)
“This probably is the most entertaining fight of the weekend and I think Tapia will win a close decision, surviving a few scary moments in the process. Kirkland will be rusty but will still put Tapia on the floor a time or two but the Jersey Boy will hold on to win his coming out party.”
- Ryan Burton (Tapia UD)
“Tapia will outbox Kirkland for much of the night, but will at some point feel pressured to go toe-to-toe with the southpaw knockout artist. His heart will prove too big for his eyes, as Kirkland erases a deficit on the scorecards with late-round drama.”
- Jake Donovan (Kirkland TKO9)
“As much crap as James Kirkland has allowed to happen to his once promising career, he still should be a notch or two above Glen Tapia. This isn't to say Tapia is a bad fighter, not at all. I am just more impressed with the prospects of what a focused and ready Kirkland can be. With a new team in place and a new promoter backing him, there should be hope for the Kirkland faithful as this is the type of fight and foe that could plant him firmly back into the mix at Jr Middleweight. Kirkland's experience and power should be the deciding factor in this fight.”
- Ernest Gabion (Kirkland TKO7)
“Welcome back James Kirkland, again. Punishment will be traded through the early rounds. Kirkland's power will remain throughout as he pounds his way to a late KO victory.”
- Richard Najdowski (Kirkland TKO10)
“Anytime Kirkland is with Ann Wolfe, I like his chances. Tapia is solid but hasn't shown anything that speaks to handling the all-out assault Kirkland can unleash.”
- Cliff Rold (Kirkland by KO)
“Tapia doesn’t have the experience that Kirkland has, or the power to stop him. In my opinion, Kirkland should impose his experience and power to win by TKO.
- Reynaldo Sanchez (Kirkland by TKO)
“A real barnburner but I don't have any faith in a mental letdown like Kirkland. After almost two years off, he will have his ear boxed off and then stopped either on an accumulation of punches or after a couple of knockdowns.”
- Alexey Sukachev (Tapia KO5)
James Kirkland 5
Glen Tapia 3
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com, as well as a member of Transnational Boxing Ratings Board, Yahoo Boxing Ratings Panel and the Boxing Writers Association of America. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox