By Keith Idec
Ann Wolfe will make sure James Kirkland prepares better for his fight against Miguel Cotto than he did for his last fight.
Wolfe didn’t work with Kirkland for his third-round knockout loss to Canelo Alvarez in May 2015, but she has returned to his team to help him prepare for his February 25 showdown with Cotto in Frisco, Texas. Their 12-round junior middleweight match, the headliner of an HBO Pay-Per-View event, was officially announced during a press conference Monday at The Ford Center at The Star, the Dallas Cowboys’ training facility and the site for their fight.
The 32-year-old Kirkland acknowledged when it was his turn to speak Monday that he wasn’t well-prepared for his loss to Mexico’s Alvarez (48-1-1, 34 KOs), whose crushing right hand knocked Kirkland senseless in a fight HBO televised from Minute Maid Park in Houston.
“I definitely wanna give a great performance,” Kirkland said. “I didn’t give it my all, when it came down to me fighting Alvarez. I didn’t prepare the way I needed to. But I can’t bring no excuses to the table.”
Alvarez defeated Cotto (40-5, 33 KOs) by unanimous decision in the fight after Alvarez knocked out Kirkland. Puerto Rico’s Cotto, 36, hasn’t fought in the 13 months since he lost to Alvarez, either.
“I’m going out there to definitely show not just my team,” Kirkland said, “but my fans, the people that’s been following me and supporting me, that Kirkland’s still in the race, Kirkland’s still here to make a stand and keep my name alive. So please attend, watch. Here he comes, Feburary the 25th – hey, it’s gonna be a ball.”
Kirkland (32-2, 28 KOs), of Austin, Texas, has lost only when Wolfe hasn’t worked his corner since he turned pro 15 years ago. Before Alvarez beat him, he had lost only to Nobuhiro Ishida. Japan’s Ishida scored a stunning first-round technical knockout against a then-unbeaten Kirkland in April 2011 at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
Ishida entered his fight against the hard-hitting Kirkland with just seven knockouts on his record in 30 professional fights.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.