A clash with 38-year-old junior middleweight beltholder Cornelius Bundrage as early as February or March is among the options being considered for James Kirkland, who is coming off an HBO-televised sixth-round knockout of Alfredo Angulo in Cancun, Mex., on Nov. 5.
The 27-year-old Kirkland (30-1, 27 KOs), rated No. 6 by THE RING, was just two fights removed from his lone defeat — a first-round knockout to Nobuhiro Ishida — while Angulo was known for his sledgehammer fists and was the heavy favorite to win.
Kirkland rose from a knockdown 30 seconds into the fight to floor Angulo just before the bell ending the same round, then gradually wore his opponent down for the stoppage.
Bundrage (30-4, 18 KOs) dethroned then-IBF titlist Cory Spinks by dominating him from the start to the finish of a fifth-round knockout in August of last year in front of Spinks’ hometown fans at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis, Mo.
Bundrage was 21-0, with 13 knockouts when he, himself, was stopped in the first round by Sechew Powell in May of 2005. Over his next four bouts, however, he jumpstarted his carreer by participating in Season II of “The Contender” Series.
Bundrage scored five-round majority and unanimous decisions over Michael Clark and Walter Wright, only to be defeated by five-round unanimous decision against Steve Forbes, the eventual tournament runner-up to Grady Brewer.
He rebounded with a seventh-round stoppage of Norberto Bravo in September’s Contender series consolation finals, and then won three straight, two by knockout, before being stopped in the eighth round by Joel Julio in July of 2007.
Since then Bundrage has gone 5-1 with 1 no-contest, his latest win against Sechew Powell to successfully defend the IBF title he took from Cory Spinks in his previous fight.
Promoted by Golden Boy Promotions, Kirkland was released from Bastrop Federal Prison in Bastrop, Tex., in September of last year after having pled guilty to a charge of gun possession in April of 2009.
The then-26-year-old Kirkland still was unbeaten at 25-0 with 22 knockouts when he was relocated from Austin, Texas, and paired with Las Vegas-based Kenny Adams rather than his previous trainer Ann Wolfe.
Kirkland scored consecutive first- and second-round stoppages over Ahsandi Gibbs and Jhon Berrio within 13 days of each other in March before being matched in April opposite Ishida, who entered their bout with a mark of 26-6-2 and only seven knockouts.
But after Ishida dropped Kirkland three times on the way to a shocking first-round stoppage win, Kirkland reunited with Wolfe and reeled off consecutive knockouts over Dennis Sharpe and Alexis Hloros in the first and second rounds in June and July.
That set him up for the Angulo fight, for which he was a massive underdog due to what was seen as a fragile psyche and an equally soft chin.
Future goals for Kirkland also include a shot at RING No. 2-rated junior middleweight Saul “Canelo” Alvarez (38-0-1, 28 KOs), who risks his WBC junior middleweight belt opposite Kermit Cintron (33-4-1, 28 KOs) on Nov. 26.
Lem Satterfield can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org