It was a pretty busy weekend of boxing just past, and lost in the shuffle was the ongoing comeback of Texan terror James Kirkland. As fans may recall, southpaw Kirkland returned to the ring this August, in what was his first fight since being brutally KO’d by Canelo Alvarez in May of 2015. Kirkland, aged 35, stopped Colby Courter in a round.
And this past Saturday, in a marginal step up in class in the comeback, Kirkland stopped a game Jas Phipps in the second-round in San Antonio. Phipps came to make a fight of it, and he was able to chuck a few shots that landed, but Kirkland’s power and strength got the job done. The end came in round-two, when Kirkland decked Phipps with a hard combination. Phipps got back up but the ref decided he was in no condition to continue and stopped the fight.
Kirkland, once a “sure thing” to win a world title at 154 pounds, is now 34-2(30). Phipps falls to 10-8-2(5).
So how far can Kirkand go in this, his latest and surely last comeback? Who knows? Still powerful, still reasonably fast with his hands and in hard physical condition, Kirkland has, despite his time out of the ring and despite his flaws, maintained a good fan following. The mystique of the big-puncher, perhaps.
But Kirkland is an exciting fighter, and he does come across as a good guy; certainly a fighter to root for. It would of course be some amazing story if “The Mandingo Warrior,” as James in colorfully nicknamed, managed to even challenge for, let alone win, a world title this late in the game, but there are plenty of fans out there who hope this will prove to be the case.
Kirkland has had chin issues in the past yet his biggest obstacle has been being able to avoid long inactive spells. If he can stay active this time round, who knows, maybe Kirkland can go on and give us one helluva inspirational story. Stay tuned.