James Kirkland: Hurting Business

By Robert Ecksel on December 15, 2011
James Kirkland: Hurting Business
If there’s any truth in numbers, Molina is in for a very long, or perhaps very short, night.


It feels like forever since we last saw James Kirkland fight—yet it’s only been five weeks, five short weeks since he traveled south of the border to positively destroy Alfredo Angulo in Cancun.

That’s the kind of fighter Kirkland is. If you’re like me—and if you are you have my sympathy and blessings—you, like me, can’t enough of James Kirkland. He may not embody the “sweet science of bruising” in all its nuanced complexity. But Kirkland, with tough-as-nails Ann Wolfe in his corner, comes to fight.

On Jan. 28 Kirkland (30-1, 27 KOs), who is due for a title shot, if any of the champions have the nerve to give him one, gets it on with Carlos Molina (19-4-2, 6 KOs) at the Reliant Center in Houston, Texas, in a bout broadcast live on HBO’s Boxing After Dark.

If there’s any truth in numbers, Molina is in for a very long, or perhaps very short, night.

Molina was inactive for 21 months, from June 2009 to March 2011. Since then he fought Erislandy Lara to a draw, and followed that up with a TKO over Allen Conyers (12-4 going in) in April and a decision over quickly fading Kermit Cintron (32-3-1) three months later.

How a 21-month dry spell and three fights in quick succession against good to middling talent readies Molina for a fight with Kirkland is anybody’s guess. But Molina believes he knows what to do to stop the Mandingo Warrior.

“The same way we always do,” Molina said. “Make him miss, be in top shape, and just outwork him. Just stay smart.”

Staying smart is what it’s all about. As trainer Ray Arcel once said, “Boxing is brain over brawn. I don’t care how much ability you’ve got as a fighter. If you can’t think, you’re just another bum in the park.” Just because Arcel said it doesn’t necessarily make it true. But maybe the smart thing for Molina to have done, the really smart thing, was to have sought another opponent.

“He is tough,” Molina conceded, “but he has a different style” than the fighters he fought recently. “Lara is more of a boxer and Kirkland, he’s more of a brawler. He goes in there and tries to knock you out. It depends on how you fight him. You can’t make it tough on yourself. It depends on how you fight him.”

Molina will have to fight Kirkland as though his life depends on it, because indeed it might.

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  1. Juicy Peach 11:53am, 12/18/2011

    A rematch with Kirkland v. Ishida II; wonder how it will turn out this time?  I’d love to see the fight this time since Ms.
    Wolfe is back in his corner!

  2. Joe Shah 10:51pm, 12/17/2011

    How about a Kirkland vs Ishida rematch?

  3. Juicy Peach 07:15am, 12/17/2011

    Molina will have to bring it to defeat Kirkland.  Neither guy is a pushover.  I think we should see a great fight; just as good a fight as Ward v. Froch.  Can’t wait to see both of them!!!  Wow!

  4. Don From Prov 09:38am, 12/16/2011

    How can anyone not enjoy watching Kirkland, but what he’s going to add up to as a fighter, IMO, will become more obvious when he’s faced some fighters who can pop and box.  The absence of Ms. Wolfe in Kirkland’s corner during his knockout loss can explain a lot of things, but a loss of chin is not one of them.

    Could have just been a perfect shot—
    To get things started at least.
    He certainly hung in against Angulo, taking some additional shots after the knockdown but Angulo is somewhat of a question mark to me, and who knows what would have happened if Alfredo had faster hands and didn’t loop punches.  I’ll enjoy Kirkland yet won’t be shocked if the ride is not a long one, but I do hope it is.

  5. the thresher 07:31am, 12/16/2011

    Yes, very interesting.

  6. Pete The Sneak 07:29am, 12/16/2011

    Man, Incredible stuff Robert. Goes to show that what you see outward dosen’t even begin to compare to what’s inside a person. For Ann to be able to personify all those traits you just so eloquently described and still be the badass that she is tells you that she’s most definitely a more complex, innovative, thoughtful and introspective individual than the person you see raging at the HBO cameras whenever they do a piece on her. Great feedback man and thanks for the insight. Peace.

  7. Robert Ecksel 06:53am, 12/16/2011

    Pete The Sneak—I spoke with Wolfe for over an hour a couple of weeks ago for a feature I’m working on, and look forward to talking with her again next week. She is tough, as you say. No doubt about that. But what surprised me was how smart—not book smart but SMART—she is. She understands life in ways only a few of us can imagine (and I think you might be one of them). She is also, if this isn’t too off-the-wall, thoughtful, subtle, sensitive, and graceful, which took me by surprise. The way she uses language is almost Faulknerian, full of southern cadences, oblique references, and homespun truths. She listens and thinks and actually answers questions. Ann’s not just about Ann. To say I was impressed doesn’t even begin to cover it.

  8. the thresher 06:14am, 12/16/2011

    The Sneak has the beat

  9. Pete The Sneak 06:01am, 12/16/2011

    The Mandingo Warrior is indeed my type of fighter. This guy just wants to fight. No pomp and circumstance, just put them in front of me. You’re correct Robert, he may not embody the prototypical ‘sweet science’ fighter ala Sweet Pea, Mayweather, etc., but I tell you what, next time you are covering him live, check to see how many folks get up to buy a beer during his fights. I gather the brewski guy may be a little lonely during this time. I agree with Thresh, Molina with all his boxing smarts will succumb to the intense pressure of Mr. Kirkland. Should be fun however. By the way, Ann Wolfe can hang out with me in the South Bronx anytime. She would have the run of the place. Man, what a tough lady. Peace.

  10. the thresher 06:04pm, 12/15/2011

    Molina is a smart fighter but has no pop in his punches. The Mandingo Warrior will walk through him and eventually catch him in a corner or on the ropes and that will be that.

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