By Ben Jacobs
In the lead up to tonight's potentially explosive clash between Saúl 'Canelo' Álvarez and James Kirkland, much of the talk has been about who will not be in Kirkland's corner after the American opted not to train with Ann Wolfe. That doesn't concern Rick Morones Jr who has an opportunity to establish his own credentials as a trainer on the world stage. Fighter and trainer hooked up after Kirkland decided to set up his training camp in San Antonio, where Morones is based.
"I knew who James Kirkland was before camp started. What surprised me is how motivated and hungry he is to win this fight and he's been very dedicated in training camp," explained Morones to BoxingScene.com.
"We've had a good camp from top to bottom, the strength and conditioning coach did a hell of a job and we're here, ready to go.
"We worked on a few things to fine tune his game, you will definitely see a different James Kirkland. Anything can happen but we hope we see the Kirkland we have seen in training camp."
Morones agrees that due to the styles of both his man and 'Canelo', the viewing public is sure to see a spectacle more pleasing to the eye than last week's Mayweather-Pacquiao pay-per-view.
"This is going to be a great fight. 'Canelo' is a great fighter, a solid champion. He doesn’t just fight for his fans, he fights for his country. Guys like that - no matter what situation they are in they tend to do anything to be victorious. And James, there's only one James Kirkland. Every boxing fan knows he is never in a boring fight. You should see fireworks."
Those predicting a victory for Kirkland point to the fact that the all action Texan will have better stamina than his rival and, as such, will be able to break him down late on. Morones doesn't necessarily subscribe to that the fatigue theory.
"I'm not big on saying 'Canelo' takes breaks or he tires out. I think he fights at his own pace, it's not about being tired. James fights at one pace, He's explosive, every second of every round. James will be all over him but we're expecting the best 'Canelo' who is ready to go 12 hard rounds."
Morones has seen the likes of Austin Trout, Adrien Broner, Paulie Malignaggi and the Dirrell brothers all train at his gym at one point or another, but he recognizes that this fight is also a chance for him to show what he can do as a trainer.
"It's a big opportunity for me and everyone in the team," he admitted.
"I'm not worried about what anyone says. I just care that James Kirkland is ready to fight. I've been given an opportunity and I want to take advantage of it. That's the only thing on my mind. It's all about James Kirkland.
"We know the crowd will be on his (Canelo's) side but we hope by the end of the night all the Mexicans start cheering for James when they see what he does."