James Kirkland and the Old Switcheroo

By Robert Ecksel on September 26, 2014
James Kirkland and the Old Switcheroo
The latest gaffe in his career concerns the cancellation of his fight with Gabriel Rosado.

Opportunity knocks just so often, before it walks by the door with the fading star above the name James Kirkland…

The tragedy that is James Kirkland’s career continues.

There was a time when Kirkland (32-1, 28 KOs), aka Mandingo Warrior, was respected. The light middleweight fighting out of Austin, Texas was a warrior though and through and his pairing with trainer Ann Wolfe was as endearing as it was productive. Their relationship may have been unconventional, but they got results, the most memorable of which was the war in Cancun against Alfredo Angulo in 2011.

But it’s been downhill since then.

The headstrong Kirkland began listening to the wrong people. He signed with Golden Boy Promotions and a fight with Canelo Alvarez was in the cards. But Kirkland, complaining about money and a shoulder injury, pulled out of the bout in June 2012.

Two months later Kirkland filed a lawsuit against Golden Boy and the team that nurtured him from the time he was a little boy. He was flattered into believing that big money and big fame awaited him. After all he was James Kirkland. Golden Boy, Ann Wolfe, and Pops Billingsley were not.

Kirkland signed with 50 Cent in Oct. 2013 and repaired the burned bridges, if only temporarily, but the missteps continue, to boxing’s and Kirkland’s detriment.

The latest gaffe in his sputtering career concerns the cancellation of his next fight. Kirkland had signed to fight Gabriel Rosado, another blood and guts warrior, on the undercard of the Nov. 8 fight between Bernard Hopkins and Sergey Kovalev. A career high $270,000 awaited him, but Kirkland felt he deserved more, withdrew from the bout, and this time he’s blaming 50 Cent.

“It’s frustrating,” said his manager, Michael Miller. “We had a deal, and then he decided he didn’t want the fight. He said he wouldn’t have enough time to train even though he would be able to have an eight-week training camp. First it was not enough time and then it wasn’t enough money.”

Describing Kirkland as “frustrating” and “unpredictable,” instead of “hard-hitting” and “dynamic,” Miller sums what most of us feel.

Kirkland’s run-ins with the law are neither here nor there. They don’t reflect on what a man can do in the ring. It may suggest that there’s a screw loose. It may suggest that he’s his own worst enemy. It may suggest that he’s a product of his environment.

The clock is ticking on the 30-year-old Kirkland’s career. Opportunity knocks just so often, before it walks by the door with the fading star above the name James Kirkland.

“There are entities that are going to stop giving him these great opportunities if he continues to slam the door in their faces,” said Miller. “That’s the truth.”

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HBO Ring Life: James Kirkland



Ann Wolfe - Great Tribute (Female Boxing Legend)



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  1. Mel 05:13pm, 09/26/2014

    Kirkland although talented and yes time is ticking is only a so so fighter! I mean his biggest win is Angulo, YEAH I said it! People seem to forget his so called “flash knockdown” by Malignaggi AKA I got knocked the F@ck out 3 times in the first round by however lets be clear, I was not being trained by Ann Wolfe at the time (he did win 2 fights with Kenny Adams but still 3 fights in less than 2 months)

  2. The Barker 04:35pm, 09/26/2014

    Kirkland is a pathetic waste.

  3. Eric 07:28am, 09/26/2014

    With Ann Wolfe as his trainer, one thing for certain, Kirkland would always be in shape. I love the heavy bag hanging from the moving truck drill. Forget all those phony S & C charlatans in boxing, this is the type of conditioning program a fighter needs.

  4. Pete The Sneak 04:56am, 09/26/2014

    Tick Tock, Tick Tock…The Kirkland saga is unfortunately a ticking time bomb that will go off soon. You can almost see it and sense it. Hope I’m dead wrong, but something is definitely amiss with this guy and nothing but ugliness appears to be heading in that direction…Peace

  5. NYIrish 04:20am, 09/26/2014

    30 years old and no fight for nine months. Looks like an ex headliner. It’s gotta happen in the ring. All the rest is bullshit.

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