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Canelo Alvarez faces dangerous James Kirkland May 9


By John J. Raspanti

It’s easy to forget that Saul “Canelo” Alvarez, who meets heavy-handed James Kirkland this Saturday night at Minute Maid Park in Houston, Texas, is only 24 years old.
But, in a sense, he’s a veteran since he was 15 when he started boxing.
Alvarez sports a gaudy record of 44 wins and one defeat. That loss was to the best fighter of his generation, Floyd Mayweather.

Kirkland is a powerful southpaw with 28 knockouts in his 31 wins. The only blemish on his record came a little over four years ago. Kirkland was knocked down three times and stopped in the first round by Nobuhiro Ishida. He’s rebounded to win his last five matches, four by knockout. But his last win happened 17 months ago.

A lengthy layoff is a problem for most fighters. He also won’t be working with trainer Anne Wolfe, who helped Kirkland return to form after his devastating loss to Ishida. The question lingers. Can he win without Wolfe in his corner?


Alvarez has also been inactive. He was last seen in the squared circle last year, edging the elusive Erislandy Lara over 12 rounds after pounding tough guy Alfredo Angulo for 10 rounds. Alvarez was scheduled to fight in December until an ankle injury sidelined him.


Kirkland is expected to bring the juice on fight night.


“I’m a fighter,” said Kirkland at a recent media press conference. “I definitely feel like I have the power, will, confidence, speed, heart, and determination to beat Canelo. I feel I have the whole package.”


Alvarez is keenly aware of what he’ll be facing on Saturday.


“Kirkland is a very dangerous because his punch is very powerful, very extreme,” Alvarez said at the same press conference. “His punches come from all angles. But, mostly his power, he can beat a fighter with one punch. My goal is to fight the best in the world and the fans get what they want.”


The 31-year-old Kirkland will want to attack and bully Alvarez. He’s usually well-conditioned, with the heart of a lion, but his chin is still suspect.


Though his image is that of a slugger, Alvarez is more a boxer-puncher. His left hook to the body is a thing of beauty. He likes to mix it up—which will give Kirkland opportunities to tag him with a big shot.  


To win, Kirkland will need to be a relentless machine. A brawl is what he wants. The key for Alvarez will be his versatility. He should be able to control the pace and nail Kirkland with counter punches. He’s quicker than Kirkland.


A middle round stoppage seems likely.


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