On Friday, Mayweather will begin serving a 90-day jail sentence in the Clark County Detention Center in Las Vegas as the result of a Dec. 21 guilty plea to a charge of misdemeanor battery domestic violence and no contest on two counts of harassment.
Kirkland (30-1, 27 knockouts) already has been where Mayweather (42-0, 26 KOs) is going, having spent 18 months at Bastrop Federal Prison, in Bastrop, Tex., for gun possession.
“It takes hard, hard work and a lot of dedication to beat those walls and to survive, man. I basically gave myself something to do every day. It was all about the timing. I had a certain group of people I hung with every day, I had a certain type of environment that I wanted to be in every day, and I trained from this time to that time. I was staying busy, reading the Bible, the whole nine,” said Kirkland.
“That’s how I did my time. When it comes to doing your time the right way, that’s not allowing yourself to stress or to get worked up. So I basically had to change my whole style up. You have to stay dedicated to yourself and to learning. But I think that Floyd’s smart enough not to get involved in anything while he’s in there. You know, the gang activity and stuff.”
In the joint, workouts were often Kirkland’s escape.
“They say Floyd’s in the gym every day, and that’s what’s going to keep him alive in there. You can turn it into, like, a stable training camp, somwhere you can be focused in. He can turn it into a stationary training camp and put all of his cards on the table every day,” said Kirkland.
“Working out, that’s a way to relax and to be calm. You can take advantage of the situation and you can make it mold you into a better person. I promise you this: as soon as Floyd gets back free, he might spend all day in the gym. You’re going to be dying to get to the gym. It’s like soothing your soul. Anything on your mind, that’s how you get it out of there.”
Before being imprisoned, the then-unbeaten Kirkland had scored a sixth-round knockout over Joel Julio and was in line to face Michael Walker in a bout that would have set him up for title shots opposite either Sergei Dzindziruk or Daniel Santos of the WBO and WBA, respectively.
“When they say, ‘hey, you’re going to get this amount of time,’ or, ‘that amount of time,’ it’s not a great feeling. But you have to say, ‘you know what? I did this, so I have to do the time.’ And then, you have to understand what comes with that time, and you have to be ready to do it,” said Kirkland.
“So then, you have to learn to adjust to it, even though you don’t want to. You have to learn adjust and to say, ‘hey, I have to be away from my kids, and I have to be away from my family.’ You have to say, ‘I’m going to be able to prosper from this.’ You have to say, ‘instead of making this a negative thing, I’m going to turn it into a positive thing.’”
Since being released, said Kirkland, there was just about nothing he takes for granted.
“Just being able to bend down and to smell grass, being able to see the open sky, being able to walk to the store is a great feeling. To see people. To see a car drive by. To touch that vehicle and rub the tires. And to be around your kids — they were precious before I went to jail. But it’s really amazing the relationship we have now,” said Kirkland, a father of three children ages 4, 7, and, 8.