Hammer-fisted southpaw James Kirkland told RingTV.com on Friday that he will not sign to fight WBC junior middleweight titleholder Saul “Canelo” Alvarez, citing his belief that he still has not fully recovered from shoulder surgery in March to repair two tears in his jab-arm that were suffered during his 10th-round disqualification victory over Carlos Molina.
Kirkland had agreed on Thursday to replace Paul Williams as the new opponent for Alvarez in the wake of Williams’ career-ending injury from a motorcycle accident on Sunday that rendered the former two-time welterweight titleholder paralyzed from the waist down.
But Kirkland (30-1,1, 27 knockouts) informed his co-manager and legal advisor, attorney Michael Miller, that after having tweaked his shoulder during a Thursday evening training session, he no longer felt as if he could do the things he usually does with his right shoulder.
“Yesterday was my first day back in training camp, and we were working out doing some different things that I do inside of my training camp. Today, I worked out earlier this morning, and my arm felt kind of weird. It was giving me a bunch of problems and hurting,” said Kirkland.
“So I went down to a local doctor and let him look at it, X-ray it and do certain stuff. He asked me if I had just recently had surgery, and I said that I had recently had surgery. He said, ‘hey man, you definitely need to get your surgeon to look at your arm again, but I personally think that you need a lot more healing time.’”
The development comes less than 24 hours after Miller and Golden Boy Promotions CEO Richard Schaefer, had acknowledged that the deal was done regarding the pay per view matchup between Kirkland and Alvarez (40-0-1, 29 KOs).
“James said that he was shadowboxing and that he wasn’t really being that active or throwing hard punches or anything, but that he just felt kind of a twitch in his shoulder and thought that he may have overdone it. He slept on it and said that this morning, he didn’t feel any better,” said Miller.
“I’ve always told him, ‘if something’s going to happen, tell me. Don’t try and be a tough guy.’ I don’t want Sept. 1 to show up, and you haven’t told anybody. That’s not fair to anyone after all of the money is spent. You either have to be all in or all out. Let’s not ride the fence.”
Miller said he expects Kirkland to be ready by October or November.
“I anticipate an October return, just like we were saying a week ago. I don’t think that this is a setback at all from the original plan, but that maybe we were a little aggressive, in hindsight, on this deal. But I wouldn’t consider this a re-injury,” said Miller.
“I think that he just kind of overdid it, he kind of needs to stay off of it, and we’ll go to the doctor next week and make sure that everything’s fine. We’re just all kind of hoping for the best and that he will be fine in October or November.”
Prior to facing Molina, Kirkland’s previous bout was November’s sixth-round knockout of Alfredo Angulo, who had dropped Kirkland 30 seconds into the bout only to be floored himself just before the bell ending the same round. Angulo was knocked out for the first time in his career.
Kirkland said he was set to engage in a similarly all-action fight with Alvarez, but that he wants to be “at 100 percent” when he does.
“Angulo and I had an awesome fight. He came to put on a show, and I came to do the same, but when it comes down to my next fight, which I want to be against Alvarez, I just want to make sure that I’m 100 percent ready. There’s no need of me going in there and fighting with one arm,” said Kirkland.
“I know that they say Alvarez is the best guy in the division right now, and the top gun that everybody wants to fight. But there’s no need of me going in there half-cocked and half-ready when I know that when I’m at my best, Alvarez is no test, you feel me? I just want the fans to know that I want to give them the show that they want to see, and I just want to make sure that I’m giving them 100 percent.”
Kirkland said that he will take the fight, but only if he can begin training after having completely rehabilitated his shoulder.
“This is how I feel about it. When it comes October, I’ll be ready for any fight. I just want to make sure that my arm is healed and right. At the same time, when it’s healed, I would definitely take the fight,” said Kirkland.
“I just want to make sure that I get the proper training in with a healed arm, not trying to re-habilitate the arm and train for a fight at the same time. It’s like trying to kill two birds with one stone, and that’s not going to happen.”
In the meantime, Schaefer said he will consider other options of Alvarez.
“The bad news that obviously it seems that Kirkland is going to be out for longer than everyone anticipated, and based on what I’m hearing, he’s not going to be back until probably November. But the good news is that the 154-pound weight class is a very deep weight class, and there are many different names which we will be looking at,” said Schaefer.
“I’m sure that within the next few days, we will be coming out with who Canelo is going to fight. The fact is that Canelo is the superstar with tremendous charisma and tremendous skills inside the ring, and he’s the one who really drives the boat here. So it’s going to be Canelo on Sept. 15 from the MGM Grand, and the opponent will be announced in the next couple of days.”
Schaefer said that Alvarez will be at ringside at the Home Depot Center, in Carson, Calif., on Saturday night when Trout (24-0, 14 KOs) WBA “regular” belt against Delvin Rodriguez (26-5-3, 14 KOs).
“In no particular order, there is Quintana, who looked very stroing in scoring his recent knockout on the Floyd Mayweather card. There is Austin Trout, who, in fact, fights this weekend, and Canelo is going to be sitting ringside to watch the Trout-Rodriguez fight,” said Schaefer.
“Canelo could fight the winner of Trout-Rodriguez in a unification. Or there’s Cornelius Bundrage, there is Erislandy Lara and there is Vanes Martirosyan. There is a list of names, and all would be interesting matchups. It’s a very deep division.”
A bout between Lara (16-1-1, 11 KOs) and Martirosyan (32-0, 20 KOs) was to be an eliminator for the fight to face Alvarez before Martirosyan pulled out of the fight, according to Golden Boy matchmaker Eric Gomez.
“I think that those other names being mentioned are ridiculous. Obviously, Martirosyan declined to fight me, so Martirosyan shouldn’t even be mentioned,” said Lara. “I’ve worked very hard for the opportinity to face Canelo. I’ve fougth in eliminators and I was willing to fight Martirosyan and he turned it down.”
Lara is coming off a first-round knockout of Ronald Hearns in April 21. Prior to facing Hearns, Lara had not been in the ring since July of last year, when he lost a disputed majority decision to Williams which many observers thought Lara had won.
“After the Williams fight, I felt like my career should have taken off, and it hasn’t taken off. I don’t know what the conflict is, but I don’t feel that any other fighter should fight Canelo but me,” said Lara, through a translation by his manager, Luis DeCubas Jr.
“Basically, Canelo and I, we’re both promoted by Golden Boy as fighters, this is a fight that should be made,” said Lara. “If it’s not made, then there is a conflict, and these guys are not lookiing out for the best intereset of my career. I want to fight Canelo, and if not, then this isn’t right.”
Coming off a unanimous decision over former champ Shane Mosley on May 5, Alvarez had decided to dedicate the Sept. 15 bout to Williams.
“I am very upset about what happened to Paul. I know that an accident can happen to anyone, and right now, the most important thing is for everyone to pray for his recovery. Paul Williams is a warrior who gives everything in the ring, but right now he is fighting the biggest fight of his life outside the ring,” said Alvarez.
“I extend my best wishes to him in his recovery and to his family as well. Paul will always be a champion, and I am going to dedicate my September 15 fight to him and his family. God-willing, and health permitting, I want to invite him and his family to be ringside on September 15 in Las Vegas.”
Photo by Jon Elits, Hogan Photos, Golden Boy Promotions
Lem Satterfield can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org