Friday, March 24, 2023  |


Ann Wolfe + James Kirkland = a victory over Miguel Cotto?

Ann Wolfe. Photo credit: Stacey Verbeek

There are two versions of the fighter James Kirkland out and about.

One version isn’t trained by Ann Wolfe and that guy loses those fights.

The other version is trained by the ultra-focused, massively intense Wolfe, who was a beast in her fighting days, and today has a rep as a badass when tutoring boxers.

Kirkland went Wolfe-less when fighting Nobuhiro Ishida in 2011 and, in his last outing, in May 2015, against current THE RING middleweight champion/WBO junior middleweight titlist Canelo Alvarez. He was stopped by Ishida in a shocker, in round one, and went tit-for-tat with Canelo early but got steamrolled in round three. On Feb. 25 at the Ford Center in Frisco, Texas, it will be a “with Wolfe” Kirkland when the junior middleweight engages in the 153-pound-max catchweight tango with Miguel Cotto, who will be overseen by the Wizard of the Wild Card Boxing Club, “Dedham” Freddie Roach.

On Wednesday, Roc Nation Sports set up a press conference to hype the Cotto comeback, which will run on HBO Pay-Per-View. Wolfe was absent, so I checked in with her Friday and caught up quickly.

She’s been busy. “I did a movie, ‘Wonder Woman,’” said the 45-year-old Waco, Texas resident, who fought pro 1998-2006 and won titles in three weight classes. “I’m one of the Amazons,” she shared, noting that she couldn’t delve in more deeply, having signed a confidentiality clause for the film, which wrapped shooting in May 2016.

Back to boxing: Kirkland started camp for Cotto three weeks ago and all agree; this fight is that much more interesting because Kirkland is with Wolfe. Roach told me the odds drop closer when she oversees the fighter. Kirkland himself told media that nobody knows him better or pushes him the right way than Wolfe does.

Some fans and media wonder if she doesn’t push him too hard and, in fact, Kirkland was asked about this during the presser. He told all that Wolfe pushes him right to the limit and he greatly appreciates her efforts. “I’m not an idiot,” Wolfe told me. “I train him hard; I rest him harder.” With Wolfe, there’s no partying, or what have you, when off the clock for Kirkland. She is all business and he’s on board with that when in camp in Austin. Essentially, he’s always on the clock there.

“A lot of people don’t think I know what I’m doing. I won titles at three different weight classes. I’ve been an athlete my whole life,” Wolfe continued. “When he’s with me, he will be trained and be rested…You see that in his fights with me. You know he isn’t over-trained because of the energy he has in his fights. That’s what they don’t understand.”

My take: I think most do understand. Wolfe’s intensity is off the charts and some people, maybe, can’t fathom it when they see video glimpses of her ways and means. But boxing is an extreme sport and frankly the mind of the world-class fighter is something to be marveled at by us mortals. It’s not for us to critique the Kirkland-Wolfe dynamic; it’s most fair for us to fixate on the results. When Ann Wolfe trains James Kirkland, he wins his fights.




A lot of people don’t think Michael Woods knows what he’s doing. And they’re right. But enough about his frequent attempts at singing Airbourne’s “No One Fits Me (Better than You)” on karaoke night.



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