By Jake Donovan
The only loss on James Kirkland’s ledger came on a night when Ann Wolfe wasn’t just notably missing from his corner, but also not around to “babysit” and make sure he conducted himself as a fighter should through training camp. A lack of discipline cost Kirkland his perfect record, suffering a 1st round knockout versus journeyman Nobuhiro Ishida in April ’11.
Conversely, the two most notable wins of his career to date came with Wolfe an ever visible and vocal presence in his corner. Wolfe was as motivating as she was instructional in Kirkland delivering violent knockout wins over Alfredo Angulo—surviving a disastrous 1st minute of the fight to do so—and Glen Tapia in his last ring appearance well over a year ago.
Given that, eyebrows were naturally raised when it was announced that Kirkland would be without Wolfe in his corner for his May 9 showdown with Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez. An all-action shootout is expected in their HBO headliner at Minute Maid Park in Houston.
However long it lasts depends on what Kirkland can bring to the table without his estranged trainer by his side. The no-nonsense slugger insists that fans needn’t worry about that part.
“I’m a lot more strategized, more defense. The things that you seen me lacking… these are the things you are going to see enhanced and advanced on May 9,” promises Kirkland (32-1, 28KOs).
Whatever is being worked on the gym, such direction has come from Rick Morones, who will serve as Kirkland’s chief second on fight night. Despite the success Kirkland and Wolfe enjoyed together, it was decided by the 31-year old southpaw that change was needed.
“One of the reasons is, I just have to put out there - the techniques I need to work on to win this fight,” Kirkland said of changing up in camp. “People say to me, ‘With Ann, you win, you had so much success, so why change?’
“I’m just going to bring a lot more to the table that I need to bring. You can’t take that away from me when already been in me, I felt like I needed to bring something more to the table than I already possess.”
Despite the change in camp, Kirkland insists the move was made free of animosity.
“I take nothing away from Ann Wolfe. She’s an awesome strength and conditioning coach,” Kirkland acknowledges. “There are things I want to add. There are things I wanted to improve on and work on that I felt like I couldn’t get from Ann Wolfe. The tools I’ve been working on are going to get me to the finish line and get the victory on May 9.”
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox