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Kirkland receives relatively light sentence

23
Sep

James Kirkland could be fighting again in less than a year.

The junior middleweight contender was sentenced Wednesday in federal court in Austin, Texas, to two years in prison for felony gun possession. However, he could resume training in nine months because of five months already served, time off for good behavior and the judge’s decision to put him in a half-way house for the final six months of his term.

Kirkland could’ve received up to about five years, according to federal guidelines.

“The judge [James Nowlin] told James he was impressed with the team you have around you,” said Michael Miller, Kirkland’s manager and an attorney. “He said, ‘I’m going to give you the opportunity to still box and make a living. I’ll be watching you and everyone else will be watching you. Let’s see what you can do.’



“We’re very happy. This is the best we could’ve expected. The range was 48 to 56 months, which is what federal prosecutors were asking. This is basically a miracle.”

Kirkland was on probation for felony armed robbery in 2003, which precludes him from possessing a gun. However, in April, he bought one at a gun show in Austin – using his own identification – and it was found by police when he was pulled over in a traffic stop.

Miller said Kirkland behaved stupidly, not maliciously, and has learned his lesson.

“I think he has,” said Miller, when asked whether Kirkland learned from this experience. “If he hasn’t, then he’s hopeless. This is his mulligan. He needs to go take advantage of it.”

Kirkland’s arrest put the brakes on a fast-rising career. The southpaw from Austin has knocked out all but three of his opponents with his swarming style and unusual punching power.

He will be only 26 when he is released from prison, assuming things go as planned. Miller said he and Oscar De La Hoya, who spoke on Kirkland’s behalf at the sentencing, discussed the possibility of Kirkland fighting in 10 months.

Kirkland (25-0, 22 knockouts) hasn’t fought since he knocked out Joel Julio in March in San Jose, Calif. So it’s possible that he will have been out of the ring only 16 months.

Miller expects Kirkland to serve his prison term at Bastrop Federal Correctional Institution in Bastrop, Texas, about 20 minutes outside of Austin. That would allow his family to visit him regularly.

And Kirkland’s attoneys will petition for the half-way house to be in Austin. Miller said Kirkland would be free to leave the half-way house from roughly 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. but would have to return in the evenings.

He'll be on probation for three years following his release.

Michael Rosenthal can be reached at [email protected]

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