On Saturday night, Alfredo Angulo will meet James Kirkland in a junior middleweight title eliminator in Cancun, Mexico.
It’s a fight that was originally conceived in 2009 and while it has since lost some steam due to Kirkland’s upset loss earlier this year to Nobuhiro Ishida, fight fans are still looking forward to a potential slugfest.
It was during the post-fight press conference in San Jose, Calif., after Kirkland (29-1, 26 KOs) had just stopped perennial contender Joel Julio on HBO, that rumblings had gotten louder about a possible showdown between he and Angulo. Â In fact, Angulo was in attendance to watch the fights, and perhaps do a little scouting of the ‘Mandingo Warrior’.
It was one of those fights however, that seemed to deserve a little bit of additional “marinating”, as Bob Arum likes to say, but unfortunately didn’t come to fruition when Kirkland was arrested and subsequently sent to jail; keeping him out of the ring for two years. Â Since Kirkland was out, Angulo (20-1, 17 KOs) continued rolling, and despite a short setback from a decision loss to Kermit Cintron and some promotional problems, is still a hot commodity.
Since the loss to Ishida in April, Kirkland has returned to his old trainer Anne Wolfe and says he’s gotten back the fire and intensity he had before getting locked up.
During a recent conference call, Kirkland acknowledged that Wolfe pushes him hard and is the kind of person that connects with him on a level that forces him to work his butt off. Â In short, he respects Wolfe to a degree that he is willing to give it his all in camp. Â Additionally, there’s also a psychological advantage to being back with Wolfe, and Kirkland admits that during their time apart, he has simply gone through the motions of training and fighting opponents.
Meanwhile, Angulo has gone through a promotional change, having signed on earlier this year with Golden Boy Promotions, as well taking on a new trainer himself, in Nacho Beristain.
Angulo had previously been trained by Clemente Medina but after failing to be present for one of his recent fights, decided to make the switch to the Mexico-based Beristain, who has also been training Juan Manuel Marquez.
Though Kirkland is coming in as an underdog, Angulo expects this to be a tough fight.
Still it’s difficult to imagine, after how fragile Kirkland looked against Ishida, and in the fights immediately before and after, that he’ll be as dangerous a fighter as he was in 2009. Â A fight that would have been a toss-up two years ago, now heavily favors ‘El Perro’, but Angulo will still have to be weary of Kirkland’s considerable power.
It’s a fight between two fighters with heavy hands who come forward and rarely back up. Â No one expects a technical battle and neither fighter plans on taking part in one.
However long this one lasts, there’s one thing that’s certain, there will be fireworks in Cancun, but will the dog have his day or will the mandingo pull it out?