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Kirkland’s back in focus for Alvarez as replacement for Williams

Fighters Network


Hard-hitting southpaw junior middleweight James Kirkland could be announced within the next 24 hours as the Sept. 15 challenger to WBC beltholder Saul “Canelo” Alvarez in the wake of Sunday’s career-ending motorcye injury to left-handed, two-time titlewinner Paul Williams.

Golden Boy Promotions CEO Richard Schaefer and Kirkland’s co-manager, Michael Miller, have each acknowledged that intense negotiations are ongoing regarding a pay per view matchup between Alvarez (40-0-1, 29 knockouts) and Kirkland (30-1-1, 27 KOs). Golden Boy promotes both fighters.

Coming off a unanimous decision over former champ Shane Mosley on May 5, Alvarez had been signed to face Williams (41-2, 27 KOs) before a motorcyle accident near Atlanta rendered the fighter paralyzed from the waist down.

“God bless Paul Williams. We all wish him well. But somebody’s got to step up and take his place. I would say that we’re at 70-30 in terms of making a deal, or probably 24 hours away from an announcement,” said Miller, Kirkland’s co-manager with Cameron Dunkin.

“Both sides wanted it. Cameron, me, James, [Kirkland’s trainer] Anne [Wolfe,] and the whole team on our side and, of course Golden Boy. Because not only do they want the fight, that’s probably the last, really sellable fight for pay per view.”

Miller first informed of the talks involving Golden Boy Promotions CEO during an interview in early April. At the time, Kirkland had just begun recovering from surgery by San Antonio-based general orthopedist, Dr. Philip M. Jacobs, to repair two tears in his right shoulder and jab arm following his controversial, HBO-televised 10th-round disqualification victory over Carlos Molina on March 24.

In the wake of Williams’ injury, Schaefer informed that “Canelo is definitely fighting on Sept. 15 from the MGM Grand on pay per view,” and “we are looking at three alternatives.”

Kirkland is apparently the front-runner, although his recovery has to be considered.

“The doctor said that James is ahead of schedule now, so with that caveat, we’re starting to sort of poke around with Golden Boy and see if we can come to a deal. We told them that the doctor gave James the green light. But we also don’t want James to get torn up sparring and then the fight doesn’t happen at all. So we have to be cautious about what we’re doing and not rush this thing,” said Miller.

“But at the same time, we know that it’s a great opportunity and these opportunities don’t come along very often. So if we don’t take it, they’ll find somebody to fill that hole. James wants it, but as manager, you can’t rush it. You don’t want to just throw him out there just to make a payday. So we have to talk to James, Anne and Cameron and Richard and make the right decision.”

Prior to facing Molina, Kirkland’s previous bout was November’s come-from-behind, sixth-round knockout of Alfredo Angulo, who had dropped Kirkland 30 seconds into the bout only to be floored himself just before the bell ending the same round. Angulo was knocked out for the first time in his career.

“James want it. He wants the fight with Canelo, and that’s the bottom line. Right now, we’re at a point where we’re trying to put the structure of it together and see if risk versus reward makes sense,” said Miller.

“So we may have something to announce within the next 24-to-48 hours. In a perfect world, we can get the thing done.”

Photo by Jon Elits, Hogan Photos, Golden Boy Promotions

Lem Satterfield can be reached at [email protected]