Back in 2007/2009, when Texan southpaw James Kirkland was terrorizing good fighters like Bryan Vera and Joel Julio, he looked like a sure champ of the very near future. How badly things went for Kirkland instead. Along with his shock upset loss in the ring, to Nobuhiro Ishida in 2011, Kirkland was unable to stay out of trouble out of the ring and he did not give his skills the respect and constant attention that was needed.
Kirkland has seen jail time more than once and the last time we saw him fight he was brutally hammered to defeat by Canelo Alvarez. Now reports say 35-year-old Kirkland, 32-2(28) – who was beaten by Canelo way back in May of 2015 – will return to action on August 24th. “The Mandingo Warrior” will face journeyman Colby Courter, 13-14(10) in a middleweight bout. Courter has been stopped or KO’d ten times and he has never beaten a fighter of Kirkland’s calibre, so it should be a successful step-one in the former top-ranked 154 pounder’s latest comeback. But who knows for sure with Kirkland and his shaky chin?
Kirkland, always at his best when working with trainer Ann Wolfe, may or may not win next weekend and he may or may not opt to stay busy and fight frequently (with or without Wolfe) if he does beat Courter. But even if he does release his rage in the ring once more, it’s doubtful Kirkland will ever be the same contender he once was. Boxing is littered with tales of what might have been; of squandered talent. Kirkland’s tale is more depressing than most.
Is there still time, still a chance, for Kirkland to do what seemed so certain for him a decade or so ago, and become a world champion? The odds are against it. Still, one thing about Kirkland is this: he is never in a dull fight, win or lose – someone gets knocked out. Can Kirkland still be the guy to administer nasty and ruthless KO’s?
File this one under curiosity comeback if you wish. Still, there will be plenty of fans either tuning in or checking out the result of Kirkland’s fight to see what happens.