Preliminary interest has developed in discussions with Golden Boy Promotions for junior middleweight James Kirkland to face Saul Alvarez in November, Kirkland’s manager, Michael Miller confirmed to RingTV.com on Thursday.
Kirkland (32-1, 28 knockouts), 30, of Austin, Texas, is coming off a sixth round knockout of previously unbeaten Glen Tapia in December that followed a 10th-round disqualification victory over current IBF beltholder Carlos Molina in March 2013.
Alvarez (44-1-1, 31 KOs), 24, is coming off a split decision win over Erislandy Lara at 155 pounds on July 12. Before Lara, Alvarez had bracketed wins over Austin Trout and Angulo around a majority decision loss to Floyd Mayweather Jr. last September.
Asked if Kirkland was being considered for Alvarez, Golden Boy President Oscard De La Hoya said, “Absolutely.”
“We’re exploring every option. The next move that I’m going to do is to sit down with Canelo and his team,” said De La Hoya. “I will have more details as we lock down the venue, as we lock down a network, and as we lock down an opponent.”
Miller said that he has been contacted by Golden Boy vice president and matchmaker Eric Gomez regarding a potential fight between Alvarez and Kirkland, who is promoted Curtis Jackson (aka rapper 50 Cent).
“That was right after the ‘Canelo’-Lara fight, so that was probably the Monday or Tuesday after that fight. Eric texted me and said, ‘Hey, would James be interested in fighting Canelo if we could put it together?’ and I said, ‘Yeah, let’s work with 50 and let’s see if we can make that happen,’” said Miller.
“So I told Eric, ‘I’m going to be on vacation, so if you have an offer, make it to 50 and let’s move forward. That’s good for everybody.’ It’s not to the extent that terms were traded or anything but it sounds like Canelo is going to fight his next fight in November, so I think that we would be looking at November. Hopefully, we’re one of the two or three names in the running for it.”
Angulo represented Kirkland’s third straight knockout win and Molina, his fourth consecutive victory since being dropped three times and knocked out in the first round by Nobuhiro Ishida in April 2011. Meanwhile, Alvarez floored Trout in the seventh round of a unanimous decision win in April 2013 and stopped Angulo in the 10th round this past March.
Alvarez’s fight with Trout drew nearly 40,000 to the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas.
“That’s where Canelo fought Trout, who was from New Mexico. Imagine if he fought James Kirkland, who is a kid from Austin, which is just 70 miles away from there. It would be great to have that here in San Antonio,” said Miller.
“Can you imagine that fight in Texas near Austin or something like that? I’d love to see it in San Antonio. You’re talking about some crazy fans coming from Mexico and some crazy Texas fans.”
Kirkland pulled out of a shot at Alvarez, then the WBC junior middleweight titleholder, in June 2012 after having agreed to replace Paul Williams following Williams’ career-ending injury from a motorcycle accident.
In August 2012, through attorney Sekou Gary, Kirkland filed a lawsuit seeking separation from Golden Boy and trainers Ann Wolfe and Pops Billingsley. Kirkland signed with Jackson in October 2013. This past March, Miller said that a judge upheld his contract with Kirkland and since then, all parties have decided to work together.
Miller would also like to consider a bout for Kirkland against Miguel Cotto, who dethroned Sergio Martinez as RING and WBC middleweight champion last month to become Puerto Rico’s first four-division titleholder.
“Maybe if that fight falls through with Canelo or the money’s not right or whatever, then maybe we do Cotto and Kirkland,” said Miller, adding that Kirkland is working with Wolfe again.
“With Cotto, I would say that’s a fight that would be pretty interesting. If Cotto would take the fight at 160 or at 154 or wherever he would want to fight, maybe at a catchweight, then maybe that’s an exciting fight.”
Kirkland has had a troubled career, having served two separate jail terms. Kirkland did over a year in prison for robbery after he built a professional record of 11-0, fighting under a contract he signed with Duva Boxing when he was 17. But the Duvas dropped Kirkland when he was found guilty of robbing a man coming out of a convenience store in 2003.
Kirkland was released from Bastrop Federal Prison in Texas in September 2010 after having pleaded guilty to a charge of gun possession in April 2009. Before being imprisoned, Kirkland had scored an eighth round knockout of Bryan Vera in November 2008 as well as a sixth round knockout over Joel Julio in March 2009. Kirkland had been in line to face Michael Walker for a title shot at either Sergiy Dzinziruk or Daniel Santos, who then represented the WBO and WBA, respectively.
The then-26-year-old Kirkland still was unbeaten at 25-0 with 22 knockouts when he was relocated from Austin and paired with Las Vegas-based Kenny Adams rather than Wolfe.
Kirkland scored consecutive first and second round knockouts before being matched with Ishida, who entered their fight with just seven knockout wins. After losing to Ishida, Kirkland reunited with Wolfe and reeled off two consecutive knockouts to set up the redemptive win against Angulo.
Miller also has expressed interest in returning Angulo to the ring, perhaps in support of Mayweather’s Sept. 13 rematch with Marcos Maidana at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas on Showtime Pay-Per-View.
“There’s been no discussion but it’s just my desire to get him busy as quickly as possible,” said Miller. “I think that a good Mexican fighter on that card might help out. I think that everyone would agree.”