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Friday, November 4, 2011
Kirkland: 'It isn't going to go 12 rounds'

By Diego Morilla
ESPNdeportes.com

Styles make fights, as the saying goes, and it's obvious that some combinations of styles don't work well to make an attractive fight. But whenever two full-frontal brawlers get together in the ring, the attraction is all but guaranteed. And that's exactly what we'll get Saturday, when American knockout artist James Kirkland (29-1, 26 KOs) travels to Cancun, Mexico, to face fellow heavy puncher and fan favorite Alfredo "El Perro" Angulo in a formidable clash between brawlers who always come to bang. After suffering his only defeat in 2009 at the hands of Kermit Cintron and after a year-long layoff due to visa problems, Angulo (20-1, 17 KOs) will get the perfect opportunity to jump-start his career: fighting in front of his own crowd and against a ranked fighter who will give him every chance to show his fan-friendly virtues. ESPN Deportes caught up with Kirkland during the last stages of his training camp, and this is what he had to share:

How was your training for this fight?
Basically, in this training [camp] I did a lot of sparring, a lot of running, a lot of mitt work, a lot of exercise. Eating right was a big part, because I had to make sure I had the right energy in my body to make sure I am the strongest that I've ever been, the fastest I've ever been, and making sure that I am right where I need to be for this fight.

Was your weight a concern in this training camp? You've looked bigger recently.
No, because my weight has been pretty much where I needed it to be. So far, I have never had to stop to think about how much I have to weigh or what I need to eat every day. I have been consistent and I can make my fight weight easily. I have a very good and easy way to go down in weight, and we were able to put this method to work in this training camp.

What do you know about your opponent?
The only thing I really know about him is that he is a power puncher, he is a come-forward fighter, he switches from right to southpaw, he is a tricky fighter and he comes to fight. He comes to win. You know, we looked at all those things, and there are certain things about him that make a strong case on our behalf for this fight.

Lots of people have great expectations about this fight, between two brawlers like you and Angulo. Do you see it as potentially being a great fight in your career?
Man, this is a great fight for us. This is what everybody has been waiting for. This is what the boxing world has been waiting to see, a real brawl, and on Saturday that is what we plan to give to the world of boxing.

Angulo is regarded as the quintessential Mexican brawler by his many fans, and the natural heir to Antonio Margarito and other ultra-tough fighters from his country. Do you feel the pressure to outbrawl and outpunch him to win this fight in his backyard?
I know I will be in his city, and I am feeling the pressure because I am down here and I am trying to put on a show for the people. But I am not worried about the pressure and none of that, the only thing I am doing is sticking to my game plan. And with the game plan that we have, if we stick to that, that's going to be enough to win the fight. So as far as anything extra, I am not worried about it. I just don't see this fight going all the way to 12 rounds. We know for a fact that it is not going to go 12 rounds, so it's not only going to be a wonderful fight, it's going to be what everybody has been waiting to see.

With guys like Saul Alvarez, Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. and other high-profile champions fighting regularly in Mexico, do you believe you will have a chance to return and continue fighting there or is this a one-time thing for you?
No, not at all. I would love to come back here anytime. I just want to be able to have a good time every time I come out here, be in the best shape of my life and be able to give my Hispanic friends and fans who have been looking forward to watching me a great show. I am going to bring action to the ring every single time. Every time they turn the TV on and they hear the name Kirkland, they're going to be like, "Hey, man, that's my friend and I am going to watch him." That's what I want to bring to the table.

What will the Mexican and Latino fans appreciate most about your style?
What the Hispanic fans are going to like is that I fight. That's what they love to see, that's what they like. They're going to do whatever it takes, no matter how much money it costs, they are going to make sure they're in front of the TV watching an action fight, because that's what they like to see: a fight. They don't want to see a lot of movement, they want a contact fight and that's what we plan to give them -- a contact fight with a lot of class, lots of skills, and at the same time this is what the Hispanic fighters like, they like a war. And that's what we're going to bring to the table.

After your long layoff and your recent defeat, what do you think you have to prove in order to get another big opportunity in a big card in the U.S.?
I really don't have to show nothing, because this fight is going to put the icing on the cake. Everybody is going to be able to see what kind of shape I am in, because they wonder whether I still have the same mentality, whether I am the same fighter: "Is he better, is he worse?" or "What can we expect from Kirkland?" These are the things that everyone will be able to see on Saturday.

Would you like to fight the winner of Miguel Cotto-Margarito, or is there another opponent lined up for you in the future?
There is already a lot of talk going around to fight [Saul] Alvarez, but I am going with the flow. If they send me to fight Alvarez, I am all for it because that's what I want. I let everything go as planned and let my team work it out to make something happen.

How do you see Saturday's fight playing out, round by round?
As far as looking at the fight round by round, we have a goal and a game plan, and we're going to stick to it. We're going to work at a certain pace that is going to be unbearable for him; it's going to be unbelievable, and we will show it in the fight. We're coming to win. At the end of the fight, we will still be standing. But as far as expectations of what round it will end on and what's going to happen, I can't say that. All I can say is we're ready to go 12 rounds, we expect to box and to brawl, and we're planning to give them a lot of energy in the fight.

Diego Morilla is a contributor to ESPNdeportes.com.