By Jake Donovan
Japanese middleweight Nobuhiro Ishida thought he hit the jackpot after scoring a monumental upset in his first round knockout of James Kirkland last April. Then a 35-year old journeyman, Ishida was thought to be a soft touch, but instead served as a reminder that Kirkland had a long way to go in his comeback.
In the end, however, the only lesson served up was that winning alone doesn’t guarantee a rosy future.
Things have since picked up, as Ishida prepares for a Showtime-televised appearance against Paul Williams, who continues his journey on the comeback trail. Their super welterweight crossroads bout takes place on February 18 in Corpus Christi, Texas, serving as the main event of the network’s first Showtime Championship Boxing offering of the 2012 season.
However, the opportunity comes after Kirkland not only recovered, but wound up lapping his conqueror as he eyes a second straight HBO appearance since suffering the lone loss of his career. The first came late in 2011r, where Kirkland overcame an opening round knockdown against Alfredo Angulo to score one of his own en route to a career-resurrecting 6th round knockout of the Mexican.
Meanwhile, Ishida (24-6-2, 9KO) was forced to settle for an untelevised appearance on the undercard of a Saul Alvarez title fight in Mexico, which came a few months after Kirkland’s win over Angulo.
The seven-month period of inactivity was of no fault at all to Ishida, who was actually in the running for a showdown with Williams last summer. The bout was rejected by HBO, who instead greenlighted a bout between Williams and Erislandy Lara.
As both fighters began to consider which direction to turn for their respective 2012 campaigns, they decided to turn to each other. Negotiations picked up where they left off, this time with the promise of shopping around until finding an approving network, rather than working from the basis of one fighter securing a TV slot against an opponent of the network’s liking.
“A lot of the top fighters aren’t willing to just face anybody. With Paul, he’s just willing to fight everybody,” states Eric Gomez, Vice President and matchmaker for Golden Boy Promotions, who now handles Ishida’s career. “This was a fight that Showtime thankfully was willing to buy. It will be a very good fight.”
At this stage of his career, any notable fighter will serve as a good fight – or at least opportunity – for Ishida, who at age 36 is at a point where every fight matters. For the moment, the win over Kirkland remains his career-defining moment, one that his handlers claim was enough to scare off the competition – including the very opponent he had just conquered.
When Ishida beat Kirkland, we tried to make as many fights as we could but nobody wanted to fight him,” Gomez insists. Paul Williams was the only guy who stepped up. I have to thank Paul Williams for this opportunity. “We even talked to Kirkland about doing a rematch and he wasn’t too interested, and he’s our own guy.
“Paul Williams stepped up and said, ‘I want to fight Ishida. I don’t care who he is or who he has beaten’ and he’s to be commended for that.”
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com. Follow Jake on Twitter at twitter.com/JakeNDaBox or submit questions/comments to [email protected].