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Merchant Discusses Kirkland vs Molina, Morales vs Garcia

By Chris Robinson

This weekend, HBO’s World Championship Boxing will stage a doubleheader from the Reliant Arena in Houston, Texas when WBC junior welterweight champion and Mexican legend Erik Morales defends his belt against tough Philadelphia Danny Garcia while junior middleweight contenders James Kirkland and Carlos Molina square off on the undercard.

Each bout figures to be wildly entertaining given the track records of the four participants with Morales, and Kirkland to a smaller degree, having endeared themselves to audiences because of their all-action theatrics. The tests they face seem formidable as Chicago’s Molina is an overachieving workhorse, and Garcia, a well-rounded, emerging contender, is coming off of a convincing unanimous decision over former champion Kendall Holt this past October.
 
Speaking with longtime HBO color analyst Larry Merchant for our ongoing column, he was able to take a quick look at the card while offering up a few sound bites as only he knows how.
 
In his own words, this is what Merchant had to share about this weekend’s HBO twin bill…
 
Remembering James Kirkland before he went away to prison for possession of a firearm for a few years in late 2009…
“I thought he was one of the most promising young American fighters. I didn’t know for how long he’d be away for or how it affected him. But as soon as he got back together with [trainer] Anne Wolfe it seems like he’s back on the track he was on before he went away to prison.”
 
Thoughts on Kirkland’s shocking April 2011 1st round knockout loss to Nobuhiro Ishida…
“I don’t see losses as fluke losses. Every fighter is responsible for what happened. And if he wasn’t ready or he had overlooked the opponent or if he just walked into a punch he didn’t see, whatever it was, it’s on him. He gets credit when he does it to the other guy and when it gets done to him that goes on the other side of the ledger. There are very few fighters of the crowd-pleasing kind that make it to the top of a boxing division. And I thought ‘Well, maybe this guy isn’t going to make it’.”
 
Seeing Kirkland resurrect his career with a TKO victory over Alfredo Angulo in Cancun, Mexico last November…
“My first thought was Anne Wolfe. That she understands him, that she got him in the frame of mind to be able to survive an early knockdown and to come on and beat a pretty rugged, tough character.”

Why Carlos Molina is a threat…
“He’s the kind of guy that may not go the first, second, or third time you hit him, so you got to be ready to beat him comprehensively rather than just hoping for a knockout.”
 
Not surprised to see Morales give Marcos Maidana all he could handle nearly a year ago in Las Vegas…
“I wasn’t surprised in that fight because of the style. Because I thought how tough Morales is, I held him in such high regard. Although I have to say, until he can beat a guy in that weight class or fight a top guy on equal or near-equal terms, he has to prove that he can fight bigger guys. He did make his reputation as a featherweight. I found myself a little surprised, at this stage of his career, that he would take on a young, hungry fighter like Garcia.”

Thoughts on Morales and Garcia vying for a WBC belt that was blatantly stripped from then-champion Timothy Bradley last year…
“Listen, all belts are tainted in one way or another. I am a complete skeptic, if not a cynic, about belts. You know hometown decisions? That was a hometown belt decision.”
 
Surprised to see Morales accept the challenge of Garcia…
“I respect anybody that comes out of Philadelphia and, as I said, my first thought is I’m surprised Morales would fight a fighter guy like Garcia. But on second thought, that’s Morales. He will take on any challenge. I thought, at this stage, they would try to maneuver into the biggest money fight. In that sense, this is a high-risk fight for him.”
 
A big opportunity for Garcia…
“I really don’t know. I don’t know what the odds are. I just think it’s a very dangerous fight for Morales. If Garcia can move up to a higher level, we don’t know yet. He’s been prepping for a long time to have a signature win and this is a big opportunity for him.”

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User Comments and Feedback (Register For Free To Comment) Comment by RlCKY on 03-24-2012

[URL="http://www.examiner.com/boxing-in-las-vegas/bonus-images-of-martinez-macklin-ring-card-girl-alyna-silva-picture"]http://www.examiner.com/boxing-in-las-vegas/bonus-images-of-martinez-macklin-ring-card-girl-alyna-silva-picture[/URL] That's all I got from that story

Comment by Brad89 on 03-24-2012

thank for sharing, i got it

Comment by Ringlife on 03-24-2012

I got Garcia beating Morales and Kirkland beating Molina even though I really want Morales to win and Molina to win.

Comment by LeG00N on 03-23-2012

whats funny is that in the Morales - Maidana fight... Kirkland had no idea who Erik Morales even was even though he already had 26 Pro fights and was in his under card. and again he's in his undercard.... I…

Comment by anonymous2.0 on 03-23-2012

Geez Larry, a guy loses once and all the sudden he's to be written off? When Wladamir and Vitali lost did you think this as well? I seriously think Larry was born 2000 years too late, he would have made…

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