Friday, March 24, 2023  |


Weekend Review: The return of Kirkland



Return of James Kirkland: The former junior middleweight contender from Texas was released last week after spending 18 months in prison for gun possession. Kirkland (25-0, 22 KOs) has a reckless fighting style that probably will translate into a short run on top but he’ll be incredibly fun to watch as long as he’s around. The time he spent away from boxing might take some toll on him but he remained in good shape and is only 26, meaning he’ll probably bounce back well. He’s scheduled to fight in December, possibly on the Amir Khan-Marcos Maidana card on Dec. 11 in Las Vegas. He’ll probably fight for a 154-pound title sometime next year.


Glen Johnson in Super Six: Showtime could’ve found a body in the super middleweight division to replace the injured Mikkel Kessler as the opponent for Allan Green in the Super Six World Boxing Classic but came up with a gem from among the light heavyweights. First, Johnson adds some cache to the 168-pound tournament because of his name recognition. And, second, he’s a pro’s pro. He’ll come in shape and ready to fight on Nov. 6 in Las Vegas even at 41, as he proved in a competitive fight against Tavoris Cloud in August. Will he have any trouble making weight? He insists he won’t. He pointed out at has weighed as low at 172¾ for a light heavyweight (175-pound limit) fight. And, finally, Johnson has given so much to the sport. He deserves at least one more big fight.


Lee beats Kratingaenggym: Ryol Li Lee (17-1-1, 8 knockouts) has been regarded as a good junior featherweight but he didn’t appear to have the ability or experience to hang with a fighter like Poonsawat Kratingaenggym. Surprise, surprise. Lee, who has fought exclusively in his native country of Japan, counter-punched his way to a shocking unanimous decision over the highly regarded Thai fighter on Saturday in Tokyo to establish himself as a major player in the lighter weight divisions. Kratingaenggym was THE RING’s No. 1-rated junior featherweight and had won 17 consecutive fights dating back to 2006. Lee obviously will enter the ratings.


Chavez Jr.-Gomez card: The Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.-Alfonso Gomez fight on Dec. 4 in Anaheim, Calif., on pay-per-view TV, is mildly interesting as we wait for Chavez to fight a big-name opponent. However, the undercard is terrific, which follows a sudden and appreciated trend. Nonito Donaire, who has been seeking a big fight, faces former bantamweight titleholder Wladimir Sidorenko. Humberto Soto takes on Urbano Antillon for Soto’s lightweight title. And Brandon Rios, coming off his spectacular victory over Anthony Peterson, faces journeyman Noe Bolanos in a can’t-miss action fight. The supporting fights alone will be worth the price of pay per view.


Dereck Chisora: Chisora, the British Commonwealth heavyweight titleholder, reportedly could be the next opponent for world champion Wladimir Klitschko. The pickings are slim in the division, so almost any opponent would be suspect, but Chisora? The Zimbabwe-born Londoner has fought only 14 times, meaning he has little experience, and he’s short (6-1¾; 187cm) by heavyweight standards. That’s not a combination you want against one of the Ukrainian giants. This has disaster written all over it. The Klitschkos, who promote themselves, save money by fighting opponents who are grateful for any payday and the chance to fight for a championship but don’t build their fan base beating up unworthy challengers.


New-and-improved Zab Judah: Judah, who never seemed to have his act together, seems to have recognized the error of his ways and is heading in the right direction. Consider his comments on a recent conference call: Life is about growing up. As you get older, you mature. At this point of my life, I’m doing everything by the book, I’m doing everything I was asked to do in the past and I’m walking the right path in my life. I’ve pretty much seen it all.” Are you listening Floyd? Judah also seems to have resurrected himself at 140 pounds. He faces slugger Lucas Matthysse on Nov. 6 in Newark, N.J. If he wins, he would make a legitimate opponent for one of the up-and-coming junior welterweights.


Oscar De La Hoya’s comments: De La Hoya, president of Golden Boy Promotions, recently got just a bit carried away when he spoke to an editor from Broadcasting and Cable. A snippet: “The Don Kings and Bob Arums have had a choke hold on this sport for the last 40 years. ÔǪ Now, we have to think outside the box. We have to think like the NBA and MLB and have one commission and one major promoter [Golden Boy, of course] in the sport. We need to sign all the talent and get all the TV dates.” There’s nothing wrong with have such grandiose ambitions, as ridiculous as they are. It’s just not a good idea to actually say them out loud, though. This is one that De La Hoya probably wishes he could take back.


GBP signs Malignaggi: Golden Boy has announced that it will stage fight cards at the new Barclays Center in Brooklyn when it opens in 2012. So who does the promotional firm sign to help sell the new venture? Brooklyn’s own Paulie Malignaggi, who bought out his contract with Lou DiBella. Malignaggi, coming off a bad beating against Amir Khan in May, probably has peaked but he has enough to left at 29 to headline a few cards at Barclays and, with his adroit verbal skills, perhaps help promote them when he’s not fighting.


Yonnhy Perez, on who he would like to fight in the final of the bantamweight tournament – friend Abner Mares or well-known Vic Darchinyan – if he beats Joseph Agbeko: “This is a weird situation. In my heart, as a friend, I want Abner to win. In reality, I also want Darchinyan to win ÔǪ but I don’t want Abner to lose. I’ll just wait and see.”

Michael Rosenthal can be reached at [email protected]