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A Closer Look at Canelo vs. Kirkland Saturday in Houston

Corey Erdman / May 6, 2015 - 1:21pm

Though apparently boxing is dead after Mayweather-Pacquiao, this Saturday in Houston, 40,000 people in Minute Maid Park will stand up and say wait a minute…I still watch!

Canelo Alvarez will take on James Kirkland in the first boxing event ever at the home of the Houston Astros, as Golden Boy continues to have to find gigantic venues to accommodate the massive popularity of the red headed superstar.

Canelo is one of the most visible fighters of the past five years. We know exactly what he is: A thick, strong 154-pounder with heavy hands. Although he has an all-action reputation, he hasn’t garnered it in the typical way. He fancies himself a boxer, rather than a face forward brawler, and prefers to set up power shots off counters.

Against Kirkland, he’ll have no choice but to fight backing up. At his best, The Mangingo Warrior is one of the most ferocious pressure fighters in the sport.

"We have the right strategy to beat James Kirkland," Alvarez told the Latin Post. "I have been sparring with southpaws to be prepared. Kirkland is a strong puncher, but I am also a strong fighter. On fight night I plan to hit hard but I also plan to fight an intelligent fight."

Whether or not this fight turns out to be competitive likely relies solely on which version of James Kirkland shows up.

It’s tricky to sit at home and try to analyze the psychological makeup of fighters, but most have concluded that the one person who is able to motivate and keep the enigmatic brawler on the right path is Ann Wolfe.

However, shortly after the fight was signed, Kirkland decided to part ways with his longtime trainer yet again. The last time we saw Kirkland without Wolfe backing him, he was stopped by Nobuhiro Ishida in one round.

“I take nothing away from Ann Wolfe. She’s an awesome strength and conditioning coach,” Kirkland told BoxingScene. “There are things I want to add. There are things I wanted to improve on and work on that I felt like I couldn’t get from Ann Wolfe. The tools I’ve been working on are going to get me to the finish line and get the victory on May 9.”

Kirkland’s temperament and style will be the same whether or not she is there with him. But Wolfe seemed to tap into the deepest primal instincts, and turned an otherwise flawed fighter into something almost superhuman at times.

If Kirkland encounters turbulence against the No. 1 junior middleweight in the world—and he almost certainly will—how will he react without being able to hear the voice that’s guided him through all the adversity in his life thus far?

If he can come to terms with that, he could be able to test Canelo in a way he hasn’t been tested before. Whether it’s through careful matchmaking or sheer coincidence, Canelo has almost always been the bigger man in every fight he’s had as a professional.

No fighter Canelo has ever been in the ring with has been tenacious or strong enough to back him up and make him fight on the inside any time other than when he chooses to do so.

But if he can’t, then he’ll make Canelo look spectacular once again, which is what most people are paying to see anyway.

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James Kirkland's Second Act Boxing James Kirkland's Second Act November 10, 2011 - 3:26pm