What a fight!
You have Saul “Canelo” Alvarez (44-1-1, 31 KO) pitted against the tough-as-nails James “Mandingo Warrior” Kirkland, a week after the superfight between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao. While Alvarez-Kirkland may seem like the dessert to the main course that is Mayweather-Pacquiao, it will probably provide the better taste.
OK, enough with the food metaphor, let’s get to my prediction.
The Case for Canelo
It’s funny. Not too long ago, Alvarez (backed by Golden Boy Promotions), was supposed to be the “next big thing” out of Mexico, assuming the mantle once held by the likes Julio Cesar Chavez, Marco Antonio Barrera and Juan Manuel Marquez. Sure, he’s had a very good career so far, but something appears to be missing.
His best performances were against B-plus or A-minus level fighters, including Alfredo Angulo (who Kirkland also destroyed) and Kermit Cintron. His best wins were against Austin Trout and Erislandy Lara. But those fights were very close, although I thought Canelo did just enough to win each bout.
And we all know how out of his depth Alvarez looked against the uber-boxer Mayweather. Sure, there is no shame in losting to “Money May,” but the degree to which he lost was shocking to me.
Luckily for Alvarez, when he faces Kirkland, he will be fighting a boxer who is closer to the level of fighter that he’s had his best performances against–aggressive fighters with limited boxing skills.
Despite his obvious technical limitations in the ring, there may not be a tougher fighter than James Kirkland, pound-for-pound. He not only has an uncanny ability to withstand punishment but he also has the stamina to walk down and through his opponent after being seriously hurt!
James Kirkland’s best wins have come against Glen Tapia and Alfredo Angulo, and each fight epitomized what I described above. Kirkland was rocked and dropped, early and often, but endured the pain in order to bring the pain to his opponents, via brutal TKO victories. The one outlier was his shocking knockout loss at the hands of the light-punching Nobuhiro Ishida.
The Final Verdict
As tempting as it may be to predict that James Kirkland will withstand Alvarez’s early punching power and stop him late, I just can’t find the chutzpa to do it. Coming off a nearly two-year hiatus, and without the enigmatic Anne Wolfe in his corner, I just can’t see Kirkland winning.
Alvarez will take advantage of Kirkland’s ring rust and the lack of his irreplaceable trainer, and stop him via a mid-round TKO in what will be an exciting fight while it lasts.