by Cliff Rold
For every fighter, there is a window. It might be a decade. It might be a few years.
That window, sometimes called ‘prime’ is the amount of time a fighter has to maximize their abilities in the ring. Watching “Canelo” Alvarez take James Kirkland apart on Saturday, two thoughts came to mind:
Alvarez is in his window right now and making the most of it.
Kirkland missed his window.
Let’s go the report card.
Pre-Fight: Speed –Alvarez B; Kirkland B/Post: B+; B
Pre-Fight: Power – Alvarez B+; Kirkland A/Post: B+; B+
Pre-Fight: Defense – Alvarez B; Kirkland B-/Post: B+; C
Pre-Fight: Intangibles – Alvarez B+; Kirkland B+/Post: A; B+
James Kirkland was never going to be a great fighter. Take away jail time and some other personal issues and he well could have been a titlist. Had he kept it together in 2009, maybe he gets a Yuri Foreman or Cory Spinks and plays at a little higher income level at his peak.
That was his window.
The inactivity after the war with Angulo closed it shut. With his style, he was never going to last forever. On Saturday, he still had the tremendous in-ring guts that make him a fan favorite.
There are a lot of men who are done in round one against Alvarez. For Kirkland to get up, survive some more turbulence in the second, and make some noise before he was finally whacked out was admirable. That was a fun three rounds.
Credit to Alvarez for doing the job in front of him. There are also men who might have freaked a little when Kirkland didn’t go away easily. Alvarez showed composure, patience, and some solid defense. He blocked and slipped plenty of shots from a guy who tests defenses to their maximum.
Much has been said of Kirkland not working with trainer Anne Wolfe but the real problem Saturday was his opponent. Matched with the best fighter Kirkland has ever seen, his flaws were exacerbated. Alvarez was quicker, more accurate, and the fresher of the two.
Alvarez is in a great position with two major fights possible at Middleweight. It’s time to move up for good. Miguel Cotto, if he still holds the lineal Middleweight crown after facing Daniel Geale, is the biggest fight in North America without Floyd Mayweather in it.
And Alvarez, the guy who would ‘never’ fight an Austin Trout or Erislandy Lara until he did, said he’s open to a showdown with Gennady Golovkin. Believe him. Since the Trout fight, Alvarez has competed with the training wheels off. Did he get some breaks on the cards a couple times? Maybe.
Lots of guys with his drawing power in this era would milk it away from a Lara altogether. Alvarez is all in, pursuing the chance to make the most of his window.
He wasn’t good enough to beat Mayweather. No one else has been either. Now the question is will Cotto or Golovkin be good enough to beat Alvarez.
Report Card and Staff Picks 2015: 32-8 (Including Staff Pick for Figueroa-Burns and McDonnell-Kameda)
Cliff Rold is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene, a founding member of the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board, and a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be reached at [email protected]