By Jake Donovan
Any time a fight is mentioned involving Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez or James Kirkland, an action-packed affair is expected to follow. Now that they are scheduled to face each other, fans are expecting an all-out brawl when they collide May 9 at Minute Maid Park in Houston, Texas.
Kirkland is rarely if ever in a stinker of a fight. An exception came in March ’12, when he struggled to adapt to the awkward style of perennial spoiler Carlos Molina before settling for a disqualification win.
Oddly enough the fight was supposed to lead to a Sept. ’12 clash between Kirkland and Alvarez. The fight fell through for reasons beyond Alvarez’ control, as well as two other opponents before settling on Josesito Lopez, whom he destroyed in five one-sided rounds.
Kirkland has since added a belt to his collection, lost his first fight (and two titles) and rebounded to win his last two starts. There hasn’t been quite as much evolution in Kirkland’s career—just one fight in 2½ years, though it being a doozy in his vicious 6th round knockout of Glen Tapia in Dec. ’13. Still, it’s a fight Alvarez views as being as threatening as ever.
“We know what James brings to the table,” recognizes Alvarez (44-1-1, 31KOs), who has been out of the ring since a 12-round win over Erislandy Lara last July. “He’s dangerous, he’s strong and comes forward. We have the right sparring partners, we’re working hard. We have the right strategy, and just have to fight smart on fight night.”
The win over Lara would mark the rare occasion in which an Alvarez fight didn’t produce fireworks. It was certainly no fault of the red-headed star from Mexico, who did his best to press the action. Recognizing an uphill battle on that front, Alvarez instead made the necessary adjustments to shut down Lara and take a well-earned decision.
“We work on a lot of things in camp and hope to produce the best fight. Sometimes the opponents aren’t willing to engage. We learn from that and move forward,” Alvarez realizes.
There’s no way he will have to worry about that in Kirkland, who similarly doesn’t expect to have to work too hard to find his opponent.
“It’s a fight you don’t have to worry about, if one guy is ducking and hiding, dipping and dodging” Kirkland says of the upcoming clash. “Me and Canelo will meet at the middle of the ring. The fight may stay there the entire time. If it becomes that particular fight, it will be a fight the fans want to say.”
As for who will win and how—you’re looking in the wrong direction if you expect either fighter to offer a concrete prediction.
“I’m preparing myself to go 12 rounds. I don’t like to make knockout predictions,” insists Alvarez.
Kirkland was even more dismissive, outside of just guaranteeing victory.
“I don’t like talking about boxing,” the no-frills Texan revealed, matter-of-factly. “I just like doing it. Overall I’m just prepared for May 9.”
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox