By Jake Donovan
It will have been 16 months since James Kirkland entered a prizefight by the time he faces Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez in the ring on May 9 in Houston, Texas. The two all-action fighters collide in a 155 lb. catchweight bout, one that has been nearly three years in the making.
For reasons only Kirkland can explain—but never will—just one fight has come in the time since he was first offered the opportunity to face Alvarez in Sept. ’12. That one bout was a hell of a solo performance, surviving an early rush from Glen Tapia to nearly decapitate the then-unbeaten junior middleweight, scoring a violent 6th round knockout in their Dec. ’13 brawl.
The lights-out punching southpaw from Austin, Texas sat out all of 2014 before accepting a second chance opportunity to face Alvarez, this time not hesitating to sign on for the HBO-televised headliner.
“I can’t cry over spilled milk,” Kirkland says of past business that has led to just one fight in the span of over three years. “One thing I can say is that the things I’ve learned over that course of time is a positive thing. I never stopped working in the gym. I’ve always been hands-on in the gym, staying in shape and training.”
There has been legitimate concern about Kirkland (32-1, 28KOs) taking on such a dangerous fight after a long ring break. But as he’s learned the hard way in the past, you have to take what comes and make the most of it.
“It’s just an opportunity I’ve wanted since the layoff. It came knocking at the door; I answered and I took it,” notes Kirkland. “It’s a fight I’m truly prepared for. I’m prepared to make big things happen. This is my opportunity.”
Alvarez (44-1-1, 31KOs) comes in having won two straight following the lone loss of his career, a 12-round decision to Floyd Mayweather in Sept. ’13. The bout will be his first since an awkward but well-earned 12-round split decision over Erislandy Lara last July.
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox