By Keith Idec
James Kirkland’s last fight resulted in Canelo Alvarez brutally knocking out the heavy-handed junior middleweight.
The veteran from Austin, Texas, hasn’t fought since Alvarez knocked him out in the third round of their May 2015 fight at Minute Maid Park in Houston. Those are the primary reasons why everyone wants to know why Cotto, coming off his own loss to Alvarez nearly 13 months ago in Las Vegas, decided to fight Kirkland on February 25 in Frisco, Texas.
The former four-division champion was asked exactly that question during a press conference Monday to officially announce their HBO Pay-Per-View main event at The Ford Center at The Star, the Dallas Cowboys’ training facility.
“James is the best name out there,” Cotto said. “I’m always going for the best.”
The 32-year-old Kirkland clearly is a dangerous opponent for the 36-year-old Cotto (40-5, 33 KOs) because of the southpaw’s power.
Kirkland also will have Ann Wolfe in his corner after deciding to not work with her for the Alvarez fight. Kirkland and his manager/attorney, Mike Miller, readily admit that he is a different fighter when Wolfe prepares him.
The two losses Kirkland has suffered during his 15-year pro career have occurred when Wolfe wasn’t with him. Four years before Alvarez (48-1-1, 34 KOs) knocked him out, Japan’s Nobuhiro Ishida stopped a heavily favored, then-undefeated Kirkland (32-2, 28 KOs) in the first round of an April 2011 bout at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
While Wolfe’s presence in Kirkland’s camp is an encouraging sign, he will end a 21-month layoff against Puerto Rico’s Cotto, who won’t have fought in 15 months by the time the opening bell rings in two months.
“It’s good to be back,” said Cotto, who insisted on a contracted catch weight of 153 pounds before agreeing to take the Kirkland fight. “I missed being involved in boxing for the last 13, 15 months. And all I can say right now is I’m going to bring my best every day, every training session, to bring my best here next February 25th, to face James and hopefully to take the victory to Puerto Rico.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.