Friday, May 8, 2015

Alvarez-Kirkland Preview

The biggest story in the sport of Boxing in recent times has been the Floyd Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao fight. Now that Mayweather-Pacquiao has taken place, the story has become what will happen from the fallout of the fight dubbed “The Fight Of The Century.” One of the biggest developments that was announced shortly after Mayweather defeated Pacquiao on May 2nd was Floyd Mayweather’s announcement that he intends to relinquish all of the world titles that he presently holds.

Mayweather, who currently holds unified world championships in both the Welterweight and Jr. Middleweight divisions relinquishing those championships, will obviously open up opportunities for contenders in both weight classes to look to position themselves for a world title shots. In regard to the Jr. Middleweight division, Mayweather’s WBC and WBA world titles will soon become vacant. A fight that could have ramifications on a potential fight to fill the vacancy of either of those world titles will take place on Saturday night at Minute Maid Park in Houston, Texas as former WBC Jr. Middleweight world champion Saul Alvarez takes on Jr. Middleweight contender James Kirkland.

Alvarez, who is currently rated number one by WBC and number two by the WBA would appear to be in prime position to fight for either world title. Alvarez made six successful defenses of his WBC world title before losing it to Floyd Mayweather in a unification bout in September 2013. The loss, the first of Alvarez’ career did not have too much of an impact on a fighter who has in recent years become one of the sport’s hottest rising stars.

Since dropping a decision to Mayweather, Alvarez has fought twice winning both bouts. In his last bout in July of last year Alvarez earned a hard fought twelve round split decision over top contender Erislandy Lara. Although Alvarez was successful in that fight, it was a close tactical battle that could have gone either way.

Alvarez now looks to continue to position himself for a potential title shot as he takes on the dangerous James Kirkland. Kirkland, a winner of thirty-two of thirty-three professional fights has scored twenty-eight knockouts in his career registering a career knockout percentage of nearly 85%. Kirkland has the ability to hurt an opponent with either hand and has also shown a willingness to stand and go toe to toe with his opposition. Kirkland comes into this fight on a five fight winning streak, scoring knockouts in four of those five bouts.

What interests this observer about this fight is whether or not Kirkland will be able to turn this fight into a brawl. Alvarez is a boxer/puncher who can be very compact with his offense and will be interesting to me to see if Alvarez attempts to box Kirkland from the outset. Although Kirkland has the higher knockout percentage of the two fighters, it should not be overlooked that Alvarez has in his own right scored thirty-one knockouts in his forty-four career victories and is more than capable of getting an opponent out of there should the opportunity present itself.

If one might be looking for a way to compare the fighters, they do have a common opponent in longtime Jr. Middleweight contender Alfredo Angulo. In November 2011, Kirkland and Angulo engaged in an exciting give and take battle where both fighters suffered knockdowns. Kirkland was able to stop Angulo in the sixth round in what was one of the best fights of 2011. In March of last year, Alvarez scored a tenth round stoppage of Angulo.

Although both fighters were able to score knockout wins over Angulo, a difference between the two fights was that Angulo was able to have more success against Kirkland, while he had trouble dealing with the combination punching and solid defense of Alvarez. One might wonder if Alvarez might look to adapt a similar strategy in this fight against Kirkland as he was able to do against Angulo. In his fight with Angulo, Alvarez was able to use his hand speed to consistently batter Angulo with combinations to the body and head. Alvarez’ well-balanced attack gradually broke the very “Game” Angulo down and he was able to stop him late in the fight.

In thinking of how this fight might go, one could be justified to expect an action fight for however long it lasts. Stylistically, this fight does have action written all over it and it may be a simple question of who is able to land their power punches first.

It is an important fight for both fighters, which could have an impact on who may get an opportunity to fight for a vacated world title down the line. A fight that much like Mayweather-Pacquiao has much anticipation leading up to it and one that could be a fight of the year candidate. Whether Alvarez-Kirkland lives up to the anticipation remains to be seen. If the actual fight turns out to resemble the action fight that it figures to be on paper however, it could be an entertaining evening.

“And That’s The Boxing Truth.”

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