Mexican light middleweight superstar Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez squares off against dangerous American puncher James ‘Mandingo Warrior’ Kirkland on May 9th at Minute Maid Park in Houston, Texas.
Simply known as ‘Canelo’ for his distinctive cinnamon coloured hair, Saul Alvarez is considered as one of the leading lights in the sport, the natural successor to ‘Golden Boy’ Oscar De La Hoya who now promotes him under Golden Boy Promotions.
The 24-year old Mexican is looking for another win but is really on the hunt for a win in style after his last victory where he really struggled to victory against the slick Cuban boxer Erislandy Lara.
Lara boxed on the back foot but was ultimately punished for his style on the scorecards which was too passive for the judges liking. Canelo was clearly the aggressor and was rewarded for his pressure but the mix of the two styles made it an extremely hard fight to score. Lara certainly went away feeling he should have got the decision, as did some fans, but ultimately he didn’t quite do enough to convince.
Canelo has been a professional boxer since the age of 15 when he was already knocking out tough Mexican journeymen and other talented upstarts in impressive fashion. He has already achieved so much at a young age. He is the former WBA and WBC world light middleweight champion but had to relinquish his titles to Floyd Mayweather who beat him comfortably via majority decision in 2013. Mayweather is and remains the only man to have beaten Canelo to date. Although Mayweather had too much ring craft and experience for him, after the fight he hailed his defeated opponent as the future of the sport such was his respect for Alvarez.
James Kirkland is a Texan native so will have his share of supporters, however, even though he is on his own patch it’s unlikely that he will experience any sort of home town atmosphere as Canelo’s superstar status in his native Mexico will ensure that his fans and growing American fan base will turn out in force for the popular flame headed assassin.
Kirkland is an explosive southpaw fighter who packs a lot of power having won 28 of his 32 victories by way of knockout. However he is also vulnerable to being dropped and hurt himself. In 2011 he was defeated by Japanese fighter Noburo Ishida who beat him in a 1st round TKO. Kirkland was knocked down 3 times within the opening 3 minutes. That loss is a really bad stain on his record as Ishida was considered a real light puncher with a low knockout record.
Kirkland has beaten some good fighters though. In 2011 he beat Alfredo Angulo with a 6th round TKO in an attritional war of a fight in which saw both fighters visit the canvas in a rip roaring opening round. He has slowly rebuilt his record after losing to Ishida but hasn’t fought since December 2013 after spending a long time out of the ring. That inactivity can only be a hinderance to his chances of winning.
Physically the two fighters are very evenly matched on paper. Both stand at 5 ft 9 inches tall with very similar reach. However, Canelo is the better and more rounded fighter and whilst both fighters can dish out punishment he the one that can take a good shot. That could be key factor in him winning this fight as both can punch hard.
Canelo: W44 (KO 31) L1 (KO 0) D1 KO% 67.39
Kirkland: W 32 (KO 28) L1 (KO 1) KO% 84.85