On the heels of the “Fight of the Century” comes the return of boxing’s third-most popular attraction as Saul “Canelo” Alvarez takes on the hard-hitting James Kirkland in a bout that should almost certainly provide more action and entertainment than Mayweather vs. Pacquiao.
There won’t be a belt on the line at Minute Maid Park, but Alvarez—whose only career loss came against Floyd Mayweather in 2013—will have plenty to fight for as he takes on another tough test.
What will be at stake for Alvarez is a chance to make boxing’s next super-fight; a match against Miguel Cotto for later this year. Alvarez and his promoter Golden Boy tried to make a deal for a match against Cotto earlier this year, but negotiations with the lineal middleweight champion fell apart leading them to take separate fights.
However a deal is in place for the two fighters to meet this fall as long as both guys win their next fight; Cotto is scheduled to defend his belt against Daniel Geale in June.
A match between Cotto and Alvarez would obviously fall well short of the crossover mainstream appeal for the casual sports fan in comparison to Mayweather vs. Pacquiao, but for the hardcore boxing audience that fight would be massive. Cotto—from Puerto Rico—and Alvarez—from Mexico—both have gigantic fan bases that have shown a willingness to follow them wherever they go and pay to see them fight which has helped the two fighters become the third and fourth biggest Pay-Per-View draws in the sport behind Mayweather and Pacquiao.
Cotto vs. Alvarez should provide the sport of boxing a great chance to redeem itself in the eyes of the casual fans with a match between two superstars who fight in a more TV-friendly style than what we saw during the last super-fight. Both men win their fights by going forward and looking for opportunities to land combinations instead of relying on defense like the sport’s most famous star.
However as great as that match would be for the sport it won’t happen unless Alvarez can get past the dangerous James Kirkland.
The likelihood of Alvarez passing that test to advance to a much more lucrative fight in some part hinges on which version of Kirkland we see on Saturday night.
Kirkland has looked unbeatable at times while working with tough-love trainer Ann Wolfe who was not only a great coach for the Texas native, but also a mentor and a counselor at times who helped keep him focused and out of the trouble that previously derailed his career.
Under the tutelage of Wolfe, Kirkland earned impressive knockout victories over fighters like Brian Vera and Alfredo Angulo which put him in the conversation for title opportunities; without her he’s looked more like a club-fighter than a contender.
A 2011 first round knockout loss—his only career defeat—to the light-hitting Nobuhiro Ishida really calls into question as to why he’d ever train with anyone else; the Ann Wolfe-led version of Kirkland likely would have destroyed Ishida.
After a 17-month layoff the enigmatic Kirkland will once again step into a boxing ring without the help of Ann Wolfe; is there any reason to expect Kirkland to rise to the occasion without her in his corner? Kirkland has one-punch knockout power, but the chances of him landing that punch without the advice and training of Wolfe seems relatively small.
Training Kirkland for the biggest fight of his career will be Rick Morones who reportedly hasn’t trained any noteworthy professional fighters; good luck figuring that one out.
Across the ring from Kirkland won’t be just any normal boxer whom he might be able to survive on pure talent against while not at his best like he’s done in the past; if he’s not prepared Alvarez will not only hand him a second loss but also a serious injury.
- The two boxers have a combined record of 76-2-1 with 59 wins by way of knockout.
- Physically the boxers are nearly identical as both are 5’9” with only a half of an inch reach advantage in favor of Canelo Alvarez.
- Canelo Alvarez is the No. 1 ranked junior middleweight by ESPN, Ring Magazine and Boxrec.com.
Alvarez by 9th round TKO