James Kirkland has issued a challenge.
If you think he has lmited boxing skills, challenge him to a fight. If you think you’re one of the world’s premiere fighters, give him a shot. If you think he’s got a weak chin, come and test it.
Kirkland, 27, is coming off his third straight knockout victory, which was November’s come-from-behind victory over fellow junior middleweight Alfredo Angulo. Going into the fight a prohibitive underdog, Kirkland (30-1, 27 knockouts) was floored 30 seconds into the bout, only to drop Angulo just before the bell ending the same round. He would go on to stop Angulo in the sixth.
At the time, Kirkland was just two fights removed from his only setback — a startling first-round knockout by feather-fisted Nobuhiro Ishida, who came in with only seven KOs within in a record of 26-6-2.
Prior to Ishida, Kirkland carried a perfect 25-0 record with 22 knockouts, having relocated from Texas and paired with Las Vegas-based Kenny Adams rather than his previous trainer, Ann Wolfe, after spending 18 months in prison for gun possession.
Under Adams, Kirkland scored consecutive first- and second-round stoppages of Ahsandi Gibbs and Jhon Berrio just 13 days apart in March of last year before being matched against Ishida in April.
After the Ishida loss, Kirkland rejoined with Wolfe for a three-fght run that culminated in the clash with Angulo, and is now scheduled to face THE RING’s No. 5 rated junior middleweight, Carlos Molina, on March 24.
Kirkland spoke to RingTV.com for this Q&A, during which he expressed the desire to face WBC junior middleweight beltholder Saul “Canelo” Alvarez.
RingTV.com: What has the Angulo victory done for your career?
James Kirkland: Me and him have been wanting to fight each other for a long time, as far as that fight right there. I just told myself after taking that loss to Ishida, which I was nowhere near prepared for, I just had to sit down and say, “Man, you’ve got to do what you know best and really give it your all for this fight.”
As far as training hard. What I see that it did for me was to put me back into the same position I was in before I went to jail. When that situation happened, and with everything going the way that it’s going, it’s beautiful. Now, I’m staying focused.
I’m never going to allow myself to be caught off guard like that again, coming in half-prepared for a fight. So I think that a lot of people are going to be really surprised at what they see in my upcoming fights in what they consider upsets or where they think that James Kirkland can’t give it his all.
RingTV.com: Do you believe that your subtle edge in boxing skills and athleticism played a role in being the difference in your fight with Angulo?
JK: Well, a lot of people don’t know that I can box. They haven’t seen those skills out of me yet. A lot of people don’t know my boxing ability. Moving and being out of the way and being able to adjust to any style by boxing. But I don’t always have the full drive to do that.
You know, boxing is cool — dancing and moving around and avoiding combinations and being able to hit with combinations and coming in at it from different angles. That’s cool, and it’s all fine and dandy, but that’s not my type of style.
I like to be in there in the mix and to have fun and I like action. I like the fact that there are surprises and the fact that anything can happen in a real fight. That’s what I like and I enjoy that and I really get a drive out of doing that. As far as boxing ability, though, I have a bunch of boxing ability.
So if somebody wants to turn it up like, “let’s see if he can box,” well I can do that. So if somebody thinks that they have enough power to push me back, and to see if James Kirkland can actually box, well, I can do it all.
RingTV.com: Is this a dangerous test for you, given Molina’s chin and his durability?
JK: A lot of people think that I’m going to underestimate this guy, and they think that there is a lot of room for error, or that there are a lot of mistakes that I might make against this guy right here.
But from what I’ve seen, the biggest skilled fighter that he’s been in with is supposed to be Kermit Cintron, so when I saw that fight, I was like, “Wow, is this what people were talking about? What’s on people’s minds?”
I also saw the one where Molina had a draw against Erislandy Lara. I know he’s been in with those types of fighters, but he has never, ever sparred, looked at or fought with a person of the stature that I’m going to bring to the table.
I’m a person that’s durable and who can go, and he’s never been put into the position that he’s going to be put into. A lot of fighters, you see them go 10, 12, rounds, or whatever it is. But then, they get into the ring with me and can’t go two, can’t go three, can’t go one round. I’m just saying, I’m not underestimating him and saying that he doesn’t have the skill or sneaky ways and different ways to move.
I’m not saying that he’s not capable of ducking or dodging punches or of throwing certain types of combinations, but I just do not see me losing. I don’t even see the fight going all the way.