James Kirkland To Return Against Saul Duran On Friday

By James Slater: Once-beaten light-middleweight contender James Kirkland has an opponent set for his return this Friday night. The 27-year-old southpaw, shocked inside a round by Nobuhiro Ishida in April of this year, will face veteran Saul Duran up at middleweight.

The upset loss to Ishida, Kirkland’s third fight back after being incarcerated, took place a couple of pounds below 160, and this Friday will see “The Mandingo Warrior” try to rebuild his career. It’s unknown if Kirkland will opt to campaign full-time as a middleweight, but the important thing is that he gets a win against the 38-year-old from Mexico.

On paper, Kirkland has a relatively “safe” comeback fight. Duran has a so-so record at best at 37-18-2(30) and he has been stopped ten times as a pro. However, Duran can punch some (30 KO’s) and he is ultra-experienced. In light of how alarmingly easy Kirkland went down three times against Ishida, the first knockdown punch not appearing to be especially heavy, the jury is out on whether or not the Texan has retained any punch resistance since being jailed.

Recklessly rushing in at the Japanese fighter, Kirkland paid the price big style. And reckless is something he absolutely cannot be against Duran. Now back with trainer Anne Wolf, Kirkland, 27-1(24) is undergoing the process of rebuilding his once-promising career. One loss does not mean the end of any fighter, but fans were alarmed at the way Kirkland fell apart on April 9th. In the opinion of many, Kirkland should forget about scoring a KO against Duran, and instead concentrate on banging out a good, confidence restoring points win.

Duran has lost five of his last six, with four of these losses coming via stoppage. A points win over a near-50-year-old Hector Camacho aside, Duran has not won anything like a meaningful fight in years. But again, Kirkland is in a vulnerable position right now, and Duran’s power might be able to capitalise on this. Beginning his pro career as a super-featherweight way back in 1993, Duran sure has been around the block. Slowly but surely coming up through the weights, the former WBC lightweight and WBA super-featherweight title challenger has become a stepping stone as of late, but a Kirkland win over him is no sure thing.

The early rounds will be very interesting on Friday night, as Duran will surely go for it as he attempts to find out what Kirkland’s chin is made of. If Kirkland really has lost it, as looked in April, Duran could get lucky. If the early rounds come and go, however, I feel Kirkland will begin to go through the gears and either punch out a mid or late-rounds stoppage or settle for an eight-rounds points win.

Also on Friday’s card will be former “Contender” Brian Vera, 18-5(11). Vera, in his first fight since upsetting fellow “Contender” Sergio Mora, will face Eloy Suarez, 11-11-1(5). Vera is in line for a much bigger fight and should take care of Suarez without too much trouble.

Article posted on 19.06.2011

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