By Jake Donovan
At first glance, Ann Wolfe can offer a menacing presence. Once a no-nonsense dominant boxer, she has gained notoriety in her work with southpaw knockout artist and fellow Austin, Texas native James Kirkland, gaining a reputation as an in-your-face chief second. However, just below the surface is a motherly instinct whose loyalty knows no bounds.
Evidence comes in her on-and-off trainer-boxer relationship with Kirkland, who had to learn the hard way – twice – that life is better with Wolfe by his side. Both of his career losses have come with someone else offering him corner instructions, while the dynamic duo are undefeated when marching back into the ring together.
They are reunited for Kirkland’s comeback, which takes place versus fellow rust-riddled boxer Miguel Cotto, His clash versus the former four-division champ takes place on February 25, 2017 live on HBO Pay-Per-View from the Ford Center at The Star in Frisco, Texas.
Neither boxer has seen a ring since their respective losses to Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez. Cotto lost his World middleweight crown to the red-headed Mexican superstar via 12-round decision last November, while Kirkland was drilled in a three-round shootout last May in Houston, Texas.
The loss was the second time Kirkland was stopped, both times without Wolfe in his corner. He was 2-0 under the guise of Kenny Adams upon his release from prison in 2011 before suffering a shocking 1st round knockout at the hands of lightly regarded Nobuhiro Ishida in April ’11, returning to Wolfe soon thereafter.
Their bond lasted for five fights over a two-year stretch interrupted by another prison stint, sitting out all of 2014 before returning last May for the Alvarez fight with Gerald Tucker – a former amateur standout and current unbeaten boxer who doubles as a chief second. By his own admission, Kirkland never gave the newfound relationship a chance to work, not properly training for the bout and landing on the wrong end of one of the year’s most notable knockouts.
Fortunately, he has revolving door access to the one trainer who can ‘bring out the dog’ in him, as long as he’s willing to put in the necessary work.
“If you are sincere, you can come back 1,000 times,” Wolfe said of her open-door policy with all boxers – and Kirkland, specifically - on Monday afternoon when fielding questions during a press conference to announce the event. “If you're not sincere, you can't come back.
“He’s always been sincere to me. He's always respected me. He knows that when he comes here, I'm not playing. If you want to be my friend. you can be my friend 1,000 times.”
Wolfe and Kirkland last collaborated on his highlight-reel 6th round knockout of then-unbeaten Glen Tapia in their HBO-televised middleweight clash in Dec. ’13. The pair gained cult level status following his off-the-canvas knockout win over Alfredo Angulo on the road in Mexico in Nov. ’11.