Angulo and Kirkland, both handled by Golden Boy Promotions, are known for their aggressive fighting styles as well as for their penchant for closing with power.
Kirkland (29-1, 26 knockouts) has scored two straight knockouts since being stopped in the first round in April by light-hitting Nobuhiro Ishida, while Angulo (20-1, 17 KOs) has knocked out all five opponents over the course of as many consecutive wins since losing to Kermit Cintron in May of 2009.
RingTV.com gathered the opinions of 12 knowledgeable observers as to what they believe will transpire on Saturday night.
Kevin Cunningham, trainer of former WBC/IBF junior welterweight beltholder Devon Alexander
Alfredo Angulo KO 5 James Kirkland: I think that I’m going to have to go with Alfredo Angulo by a fifth-round stoppage. I’m going to have to go with Angulo on this one.
This fight can go either way, but I’m going to have to go with Angulo being that he’s never been stopped before, and Kirkland has recently suffered a knockout loss.
That’s the reason I’m going to tip the advantage to Angulo. I don’t know how long that it’s going to last, but I don’t see it going past five rounds. So I see Angulo winning by fifth-round KO.
Alfredo Angulo KO 5 James Kirkland: I think that it will be a lot of fun while it lasts, but James Kirkland, he just has too many flaws. Kirkland is the more flawed of the two sluggers.
Kirkland has the ability to maybe out-box and bust up Angulo on the way to doing it over the course of 10 or 12 rounds, but it’s just not in his nature to do that.
He’s more likely take the figth to Angulo, and he’ll eat a lot of right hands in doing that, and he’ll get hurt by those right hands.
If he could get inside, get in close and get beyond Angulo’s jab and right hand, he could hurt Angulo to the body and with uppercuts. I think that he will do that maybe in the first two rounds.
But it’s going to end with Kirkland either being saved by the referee, or with his trainer stopping it or being counted out flat on his back or flat on his face. I’m thinking maybe in the fourth or fifth round, and that’s giving him the benefit of the doubt.
Norm Frauenheim, www.15rounds.com
Despite his evident talent, Kirkland’s vulnerabilities were exposed in a stunning loss to Nobuhiro Ishida. Angulo also is working with trainer Nacho Beristain, whose generalship in the corner figures to provide an important advantage.
Vaughn Jackson, trainer of unbeaten welterweight Mike Jones
Alfredo Angulo KO 5 James Kirkland: I’ve got to go with Alfredo Angulo. James Kirkland, he’s got too much adversity in his life right now. I think that he’s got too much going on.
James Kirkland just got out of prison, and, with him changing trainers and everything, I think that it’s going to take three or four fights to get himself together.
Actually, I’ve got Angulo stopping him in about four or five rounds. So I’ll go with Angulo in a fifth-round knockout.
Alfredo Angulo TKO 7 James Kirkland: I’ve got Alfredo Angulo, TKO 7. I don’t trust either fighter, but I think Angulo is the better boxer and I think James Kirkland’s chin is a huge question mark.
Steve Kim, Maxboxing.com
But I’m going to say that it’s going to be Angulo in six over James Kirkland in what will be a very exciting, back and forth fight.
Leon Lawson Jr., trainer of super middleweight siblings Andre and Anthony Dirrell
Kirkland is good, but this is his real test to see if he can get over the hump and to see if he’s worthy of winning a championship. But I think that Angulo is going to win it.
First of all, Kirkland’s going down there to Mexico. Then, you’ve got that layoff for Kirkland, you know, and I think that it’s sort of fast for him to come in there and jump in with a guy that can take punishment like Angulo.
Angulo can really take a punch, and he’s going to come forward and try to back up Kirkland. That’s what Angulo does. Kirkland is usually the one backing his guys up, but he’s not going to back Angulo up.
Angulo is going to come to him. I think that it’s going to end in a knockout in the seventh or eighth for Angulo.
Ryan Maquiñana, BoxingScene/Comcast SportsNet
Despite being the slower fighter, I see Alfredo Angulo being able to land as well, except that his blows will sting, and his chin will allow him to pressure Kirkland at will even after the Mexican eats a few counters.
Freddie Roach, trainer of Manny Pacquiao, Amir Khan, and Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.
Alfredo Angulo KO James Kirkland: I like Alfredo Angulo in that fight. He’s trained in my gym before, and he’s got a great chin. He has good power. The other guy, James Kirkland, just hasn’t looked that sharp lately.
I like Angulo a lot in that fight. They will exchange, but Angulo will take all of the punches and he throws back. Kirkland just hasn’t seemed able to take the punches quite as well as he needs to.
Angulo has a better chin than Kirkland, and that’s going to be the deciding factor, I feel. I think it could be early or late.
It wouldn’t surprise me if it goes one round, but Kirkland’s in good shape, so maybe it will last a little longer. But, Angulo is very dangerous. The thing is, Angulo has the better chin.
Alfredo Angulo KO 3 James Kirkland: I think that James Kirkland will be smart enough to avoid getting tagged in the first round, but he’s not good enough, his chin isn’t good enough, to avoid getting tagged altogether.
Alfredo Angulo has a better chin, if slower feet and hands, and that will make the difference in a fast paced shoot-out.
Alfredo Angulo KO 6 James Kirkland: First, I love this fight. These are two bangers almost guaranteed to put on a good show for as long as the fight lasts.
That said, Angulo is a better boxer, has more experience in big fights and has a better chin. I think Kirkland is quicker and a better athlete, but that won’t compensate for Angulo’s advantages. Angulo will score a middle-rounds knockout, say, in the sxth round.
James Kirkland KO 8 Alfredo Angulo: I think that James Kirkland is a much tougher guy than Alfredo Angulo. The only question that I have about James Kirkland is his conditioning.
Kirkland looked horrible in his last fight. If he’s not in great condition, then I think that he will get exploited by Angulo. Sometimes he doesn’t show it, but I believe that Kirkland is a much more skilled guy.
So I would look for James Kirkland to try to bounce back from a really disappointing loss and to try to knock Angulo out. I think that he will be successful. So I think that he’ll get a late-round stoppage, maybe in the eighth round or so.
Lem Satterfield can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org