In one of those feel-good boxing stories, undefeated James Kirkland (27-0, 24 KO’s) continues his comeback after two years in the stir for a parole violation. Coming from East Austin, Texas, where both sides of the track are wrong and where it’s easier to get into trouble than out, Kirkland is getting what he calls “not a second chance, but more like a third chance as far as my criminal background,” and vows to make the most of it. With two quick KO’s in his two comeback fights -- one in 30-plus seconds, the other in two rounds -- the heavy-handed southpaw now faces his sternest test in former junior middleweight champ Nobuhiro Ishida, who has never been stopped. With a win over Ishida, Kirkland stands on the cusp of a title shot by the end of the year and is determined to acquit his lifelong dream of becoming a champion in the near future despite his troubled past.
by Michael Gluckstadt
As fight week approaches, we'll take our first Inside Fight Week look at how each fight is shaping up:
Eric Morales vs Marcos Rene Maidana:
In the main event, a 12-round junior welterweight fight, Erik "El Terrible" is taking on Marcos "El Chino" Maidana. The 34-year-old Morales, who retired in 2007 before stringing together three victories on his Mexican comeback trail, feels he's prepared to get back to the top level of competition. "I am very calm and ready," he says. "The junior welterweight division gives me the opportunity to eat well and to make weight without sacrificing my body like I had to in the past."
The hard-throwing Maidana is coming off a close but unanimous decision loss to Amir Khan, and the defeat has left a bitter taste in his mouth. "I want to be a world champion again and move past the frustration I have felt since my fight with Amir Khan," the Argentine says. "I am definitely prepared and hungry for this fight."
Robert Guerrero vs Michael Katsidis:
Robert Guerrero and Michael Katsidis will be fighting for the vacant WBA and WBO Interim Lightweight belt. The fight had been scheduled for early last year, but was canceled when Guerrero stepped away from boxing to care for his ailing wife, Casey. Now that Casey has been cancer-free for over a year, Robert has been able to focus on boxing. "It takes a huge weight off your shoulders and makes everything easier to prepare for fights," he says. "I'm tremendously prepared for this fight.”
The always-dangerous Katsidis is coming off a loss in a slugfest with Juan Manuel Marquez. With his focus now on Guerrero, he's been training for the fight in Thailand. "It's not comfortable in the ring," he says. "Thailand is very tough and the conditions here are rugged."
Paulie Malignaggi vs Jose Miguel Cotto:
The former Junior Welterweight World Champion, Paulie Malignaggi is stepping back onto the big stage against Puerto Rico's Jose Miguel Cotto in a 10-round welterweight fight. The flashy Brooklynite is looking to avenge his first ever professional loss, suffered at the hands of Cotto's older brother Miguel. "I know when fighting a Cotto I have to be prepared," he says. "I’m excited for the challenge." The younger Cotto isn't just a famous name. He's gone 32-2-1 with 24 KOs in his 14-year professional career.
James Kirkland vs Nobuhiro Ishida:
In one of the night's most compelling stories, James Kirkland makes his highest profile return to the ring since spending two years in prison for violating parole and purchasing a gun. Kirkland was a rising talent and spectacular knockout artist when he took his forced hiatus. Since returning to the ring, Kirkland's scored two impressive KOs, both within the first two rounds, and looks to make the light middleweight from Japan his third.
As negotiations between owners and players have reached a standstill, the NFL lockout has already sent some players looking elsewhere for work. And when your job as an elite athlete is to keep yourself in top physical condition and hit people, boxing has an understandable draw.
Baltimore Ravens safety Tom Zbikowski has returned to the ring, where he had a stellar amateur career before being drafted to the NFL. He's already fought once this month, knocking out Richard Bryant in the first round. Since then, he has been working with legendary trainer Emanuel Steward, and finds himself on the undercard of this week's Boxing After Dark matchup between Yuriorkis Gamboa and Jorge Solis.
"He has a great natural rhythm and he's always in position when he is punching," Steward says. "He doesn't box like a football player. He boxes like a boxer." Bryant isn't the only NFL athlete trading in the gridiron for the sweet science, Vikings defensive end Ray Edwards is also on the same path, eyeing his first ever professional bout sometime in April.
Maybe now Andre Johnson and Cortland Finnegan (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SBT6MygnKKw) can finally settle things in the ring.
Catch highlights from Zbikowski's fight on Saturday night.
Martinez, 35, hasn't suffered a definitive loss since 2000 (KO by 7 Antonio Margarito) while Dzinziruk, 34, is a perfect 37 for 37 in his 12-year career. Martinez is a better than 4-1 favorite.
Both have relocated their training camps to the U.S. Argentina's Martinez had trained in Oxnard, Calif., before moving to the Miguel Cotto training camp in Florida while Ukrainian Dzinziruk's base is in Los Angeles under new trainer Buddy McGirt.
Finally, each knows what it's like to toil in obscurity. With his knockout-of-the-year performance against Paul Williams in December, Martinez's star is at its brightest while Dzinziruk wants to dim that star while creating one of his own.
Each man's CompuBox history reveals factors that could shape the outcome.
As Matthew Hatton prepares to take on Mexican phenom Saul Alvarez this Saturday for the vacant WBC light middleweight title, we caught up with another fighter who knows what Matthew is going through, his brother and former welterweight champ Ricky Hatton. Here's what Ricky had to say:
by Peter Nelson
At 3:30 p.m. on Friday, the official weigh-in between 140-lb champions Timothy Bradley and Devon Alexander was held in a banquet room of the Silverdome. Through a large window pane opposite the dais, the view immediately overlooked 55,000 seats which will not be in service Saturday night of the venue’s 70,000 seat capacity, beyond which were large blue tarps partitioning a small corner for the ring, like a church scaled down to a single pew. For an event reportedly struggling to sell tickets, the room was packed with press, fans, and the families of the boxers.
Before the scales could be tipped, however, another matter needed resolution: Because Alexander holds the WBC title, Bradley the WBO, and both are undefeated, a coin toss determined who would walk into the ring first and who would be announced last. Alexander called it in the air, and no one within earshot, particularly Bradley, could have missed Alexander’s trainer Kevin Cunningham exuberantly shouting, “We win.” The St. Louis native decided to walk out second, giving Bradley the consolation to be announced in the ring last. The subsequent scowling reflected two fighters irritable from making weight and ready to fight.
The two fighters stripped down. Alexander came in at 140 lbs and Bradley at 139.5. Bradley, a strict vegetarian during his training regimen and the son of an amateur bodybuilder, lays claim to one of the most muscled physiques in boxing. Out of training, he often will walk around about 160 lbs, so to get down below 140 has some believing he had to cut muscle (not water weight or fat) to lose his final ounces.
Largely due to his experience against overall superior competition to Alexander’s, Bradley is the favorite tomorrow night, although Alexander is four years younger, an inch taller, a half-pound heavier, with a two-inch reach advantage, a higher knockout percentage, and a strategic head start in fighting from the southpaw stance (Bradley last faced a lefty two years ago when he defeated Junior Witter for his first world title).
Stylistically, it will be critical for Alexander to neutralize Bradley’s best two modes of attack: his right hand and his head-butt. Feints, a quick jab, and lateral movement should help him to this aim. Given his Herculean physique, Bradley for this very reason sometimes seems to have difficulty throwing straight punches and opens himself up the middle. Properly set up, Alexander’s straight left could be his top asset.
For Bradley, maintaining his ferocious work-rate through the late rounds will allow him an edge, in addition to cutting off the ring on Alexander, forcing him to fight toe-to-toe. Despite Alexander appearing to have the superior chin (having never been knocked down so much as knocked out in 21 professional fights and over 400 amateur), Bradley should by now have the boxing intellect to set up shots that allow him to steer clear of Alexander’s powerful uppercut.
The winner of this fight will likely be pressured to face Amir Khan to unify the entire 140-lb division. From there, a truly viable candidate to fight Floyd Mayweather or Manny Pacquiao will have emerged. While the loser of this fight is guaranteed another date on HBO, the road ahead of him to superstardom becomes that much longer. The winner of Bradley-Alexander earns not only unified titles, increased exposure, and the respect of fans, but most importantly a well-earned shortcut to vast earning potential and possibly cementing a legacy in a storied division.
By Chuck Johnson
DETROIT – Taking a cue from the Big Three automakers’ dramatic recovery, promoters of Saturday night’s “Super Fight” at the Silverdome are counting on Detroit-area boxing fans to follow the lead of the car-purchasing public and “Buy American.”
Like most boxers, I have great respect for the champions who have come before me. Since I was 7, I have known that boxing is what I wanted to for my career. I have been soaking up the history of the sport since then.
I spent the best part of the last 10 years going to a gym in St. Louis every day with Cory Spinks. His father Leon and his uncle Michael were both world heavyweight champions. I watched Cory from the amateurs all the way up to undisputed world welterweight champion.
I’ve always known about Detroit fighters and the Kronk Gym, too. Tommy Hearns, Mark Breland, John David Jackson—there have been so many. “The Brown Bomber” Joe Louis will be remembered not only for his boxing, but his military service and the groundbreaking nature of what he was able to accomplish.
It’s an honor to be fighting in Detroit. In addition to the boxing history, there is so much more that has happened here. All those old school Motown singers and groups that we all still listen to are part of American life. I drive an American-made, new school Dodge Challenger, and I love it! Nicest car I’ve ever had. Thank you for that, Detroit! And I’ve got to mention that great running back Barry Sanders. I loved watching him play for the Lions in the building I’ll be fighting in on Saturday.
I will not be able to see and do too many things in the week I will spend in Detroit leading up to my fight with Tim Bradley. If you know anything about me and you like boxing, come out and cheer for me as I’ll hear and feel you at the Silverdome. I’ll be fighting to keep my title, win Timmy’s and to entertain boxing fans in the Motor City.
Timmy and I both know this fight has been coming for a long time. We’ve been thinking about each other for years. He’s and undefeated world champion and so am I. We both have our entire professional career riding on this one. The winner moves on to another big fight. That’s going to be me. I have a feeling it’s going to be a great boxing show and something to remember. Come out and support me and watch as history is made right here in your city. Fans will be able to say, ‘I remember when Devon Alexander beat Tim Bradley at the Silverdome.