“It’s going to be a combat fight and a bunch of action. As far as being able to impress or to do something that I don’t have to do, I’m not going to do that,” said Kirkland, who celebrated his 28th birthday on March 19.
“But as far as pertaining to being me in the ring, and being the fighter that I am and being in an action-packed fight, which I’m going to bring, me being me, that’s just what I’m bringing to the table.”
Kirkland (30-1, 27 knockouts) will pursue his fourth straight knockout in as many straight victories against Molina (19-4-2, 6 KOs) on the under card of a main event featuring WBC junior welterweight beltholder Erik Morales (52-7, 36 KOs) in a defense against Danny Garcia (22-0, 14 KOs) from the Reliant Arena in Houston.
Kirkland is coming off November’s come-from-behind, sixth-round knockout of Alfredo Angulo, against whom he was floored 30 seconds into the bout only to drop Angulo just before the bell ending the same round. Angulo was knocked out for the first time in his career.
Expect more of the same against Molina, said Kirkland
“I mean, my sparring matches are the same as my fights, so I’m always going to give it my all,” said Kirkland. “This is going to be another one of the days at the gym for James Kirkland.”
Kirkland’s triumph over Angulo was his third straight win following a sensational first-round knockout loss to Nobuhiro Ishida, who came in with only seven KOs within in a record of 26-6-2. Kirkland said that he has tightened up his defense and improved his boxing abilities since then.
“I made an error and a mistake when it came to Ishida, but they say that you learn from all of your mistakes. To tell you the truth, this camp, we’ve worked on a lot of things. A lot of people think that I’m coming in underestimating Carlos and his style, but you know, we’ve never done that,” said Kirkland.
“I’ve just stayed focused. We worked on a bunch of different things, because there is no telling what this fight’s going to be like. It could a head-on collision. It could be a lion chasing a deer. It could be so many different things. We’ve got all of these different things in front of us, so we never know.”
Prior to Ishida, Kirkland carried a perfect 25-0 record with 22 knockouts, having relocated from Texas and paired with Las Vegas-based Kenny Adams rather than his previous trainer, Ann Wolfe, after spending 18 months in prison for gun possession.
Under Adams, Kirkland scored consecutive first- and second-round stoppages of Ahsandi Gibbs and Jhon Berrio just 13 days apart in March of last year before being matched against Ishida in April.
After the Ishida loss, Kirkland rejoined with Wolfe for a three-fght run that culminated in the Angulo bout.
“This could be an action-packed fight. Whoever lands that first punch, that’s when you’re going to find out what kind of fight it’s going to become,” said Kirkland. “I’ve worked on a lot of good things, defense, power, pushing it, pressure, the whole time. I come in well-prepared for this.”
KIRKLAND STANDS BY GOLDEN BOY PROMOTIONS
Kirkland was asked during a recent national conference call with the media members whether Golden Boy was trying to “cash out” on by matching him against Angulo in the hopes that he would lose.
Kirkland’s response was supportive of his promoter.
“We’re a team. Whatever it takes, we’re with Golden Boy Promotions. I’ll just hold my comments on it. It really doesn’t bother me. A lot of things people just say. But we’re a team. I’m with Golden Boy Promotions, you know, so whatever it takes,” said Kirkland.
“They’re just trying to give the fans what they wanted to see, and that was a good fight, and I was down for it like always. As far as that, I’m riding with Golden Boy, we’re together, and we’re doing our thing, and bigger and better things are coming in the future.”
Matchmaker Robert Diaz of Golden Boy Promotions also addressed the Kirkland-Angulo fight.
“It was a fight that people wanted to see for five years. The fans wanted to see this fight. Two of the most explosive fighters at 154. Somebody had to win, somebody had to lose. James came out the winner,” said Diaz.
“We’re very proud of James and we know that he has everything that it takes to become a world champion. Alfredo lost. Now, he has to make the road back. But it wasn’t a fight where Golden Boy was trying to cash out on one or the other. It was a fight that the fans wanted to see, and a fight that we wanted to put on. Good fights.”
MOLINA’S SOLID CHIN, BOXING SKILLS MAY TEST KIRKLAND
Over the course of his 11-0-1 unbeaten streak that includes two knockouts, Molina has sandwiched a victory over two-time welterweight beltwinner Kermit Cintron in July and a draw with then-unbeaten southpaw Erislandy Lara in March around a seventh-round stoppage of Allen Conyers in April.
Molina’s earlier career includes a draw, followed by a six-round majority decision loss to unbeaten current WBC middleweight beltholder Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. in December of 2005 and 2006, respectively.
Molina said that he never lost faith in his abilities, believing that one day he would be involved in a major fight, this despite a 21-month layoff that began following his unanimous decision over Danny Perez in June of 2009 and ended with the Lara fight.
“I don’t want any easy fights. I don’t want to be handed the WBC belt or any belt for that matter. I want to earn my belt. There was almost a two-year layoff for me, but I was still focused and I always knew that I was going to fight again,” said Molina.
“So I was always training. I was always in the gym working out. Either way, I was always ready for my next opportunity. I knew that it would come soon. I’m always positive, no matter what. You’ve got to be. “
Among those Kirkland has faced, Molina may rank as the fighter with the most unique boxing skills, durability and the chin to match.
“I have a great chin, but I don’t like to use it unless I have to. That’s a backup plan there. The No. 1 thing is to slip the punches and to not get hit. If you ever do, which it doesn happen in boxing, then you have the chin there,” said Molina, who is 28.
“I’ve been down once in my career, like six years ago. I was down once in like the third round, and I didn’t see it coming. I got up, finished the fight and just learned from it. I’m glad that I’m fighting James Kirkland right now. Hopefully, I’ll get a world title fight after this.”
Photos by Jon Elits, Hogan Photos, Golden Boy Promotions
Lem Satterfield can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org