By Keith Idec
Assuming a deal for James Kirkland’s fight against Miguel Cotto is consummated, Kirkland plans to work with trainer Ann Wolfe in preparation for it.
The hard-hitting Kirkland has experienced his greatest success with Wolfe in his corner. The only two losses of his 15-year pro career – knockout defeats to Nobuhiro Ishida in the first round and Canelo Alvarez in the third round – occurred without Wolfe in Kirkland’s corner.
The 32-year-old Kirkland’s return to Wolfe is among the things that encourages his manager, Mike Miller, about Kirkland (32-2, 28 KOs) returning from what would be a 21-month layoff to face Puerto Rico’s Cotto (40-5, 33 KOs) on February 25 in Frisco, Texas. The fight is expected to take place at The Ford Center at The Star, the Dallas Cowboys’ training facility.
Miller told BoxingScene.com on Wednesday that he had not yet received a final contract from Jay Z’s Roc Nation Sports, Cotto’s promoter, but that he’s hopeful a deal would be finalized soon.
“It’s night and day, if you ask me,” Miller said regarding the difference in Kirkland when working with Wolfe. “She’s the one that can bring the dog out in him. He can’t baffle her. He can’t walk over her. She’s tough and she knows what she has and she knows what she’s doing. So he’s a completely different fighter when he’s trained with Ann than with any other trainer. That’s been obvious in his other fights. The only two fights he’s lost are fights when he hasn’t been with Ann. The Ishida fight that he lost, he wasn’t with Ann. And then the Canelo fight, he wasn’t with Ann. So it’s pretty obvious.”
Once this Cotto-Kirkland pay-per-view fight is finalized, Miller said they’ll determine whether Wolfe will train Kirkland somewhere near Austin, Texas, Kirkland’s hometown, or elsewhere.
“Ann wants him to at least leave Austin,” Miller said. “Bastrop is 20, 30 minutes from Austin. That’s where he trained for several of the fights before with her. She’s looking at maybe going back to Bastrop, or somewhere it’s a little warmer, where they can work on losing the weight a little quicker. If it’s in Texas, I would imagine it’s somewhere in the Austin area. And then if not, I’d imagine in Southern California somewhere.
“That’s not a bad idea. I’ve tried to tell her she might wanna go out and use a gym that Joel Diaz has, or some other gym. Somewhere it’s 60 degrees, not 40. It gets up to 80 during the day out in the Palm Springs area. That’s just something we’ve kicked around. But then it’s expensive, and are you gonna have enough sparring and all that? Those are ideas we’re gonna kick around once this thing has been consummated. If you’ve been in boxing long enough, you know to that until you have a signed contract by both parties, it’s not a done deal yet.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.