If there’s one theme running throughout many of the fights going on this weekend, the one which keeps popping up is a need to prove oneself. Whether that is done through continuing a rise to the top of your division, in the case of Diego Magdaleno, or re-establishing yourself as one of the best in your division, in the case of Zab Judah, or simply reminding people you are just as good as you were once thought to be, in the case of James Kirkland, the boxing ring provides no better an opportunity to do so. Life is black and white once you step into that ring. There is nowhere to run, nowhere to hide, you need to stand toe to toe with your opponent if you want to prove yourself. Judges may be able to skew a decision in your favour, but what you cannot have influenced by any other outside factor is what the fans see and the opinions your performance leads them to form about your ability.
One of the fighters this weekend, headlining HBO’s card, is the legendary “El Terrible” Erik Morales. Morales is the poster boy for leaving it all in the ring and giving the fans exactly what they want. Morales does not know how to move backwards, or stop swinging. His decision to switch to a southpaw against current P4P King, Manny Pacquaio, was one of the ballsiest moves ever seen. Yet even a legend such as Morales has the need, and we would go ahead and guess desire, to prove himself still capable at this stage in his career. Since making his comeback his only loss has been to Marcos Maidana. Given that many, including us, were worried for Morales health going in with a cat like Maidana and Morales ended up showing the fight was still in him we can never write his chances off. But the question persists, how much can a guy who had two legendary trilogies with Marco Antonio Barrera and Manny Pacquaio still have left in his tank? Frankly Maidana has been the only top level fight Morales has had since his comeback and he lost that fight. This is where his opponent, Danny Garcia, factors in.
Danny Garcia is currently undefeated. He does not have the fanfare of other up and comers in the welterweight ranks, but he is a more than competent competitor. This fight with Morales is a chance to prove he is a worthy title contender and ready for more big time fights. The fight has the chance to be reminiscent of Morales win over Daniel Zaragoza, a fight which put Morales on the map and on the road to a spectacular career. But Morales was a much more complete boxer when he met Zaragoza, a ferocious animal who never stopped coming forward or hitting, beating down the veteran with body blows. Garcia simply is not that kind of fighter, and in any relatively big time fight so far in his career he has yet to get a convincing win. Saturday night is his chance to prove the doubters wrong and begin to establish his own legend. It’s all in his hands now.
Garcia simply needs to be at his absolute best come Saturday night. He isn’t going to beat Morales otherwise. Many might look at Morales coming in over weight as a sign he simply does not care about the fight, that the fire is gone. Don’t believe that for a second. Morales has too much pride to go into the ring if he simply does not care about a fight, and he’ll be ready tommorow night.
James Kirkland’s rise and fall and subsequent rise again could easily be a Hollywood movie. The cat is one of the baddest dudes in the ring, a powerful puncher who loves to stalk down his opponents and lay a beating upon them. He isn’t the prettiest boxer, never has tried to be, he understands exactly what his strengths and weaknesses are and sticks to them. He also has one of the most underrated and interesting trainers in the business, Ann Wolfe. Wolfe motivates Kirkland like no other, knows what Kirkland needs to do to win. His one fight with Kenny Adams as trainer showed that. His fight on Saturday evenings undercard against Carlos Molina is yet another step towards regaining legitimacy in the fight game and returning to the top of his weight division. After last November’s Fight of the Year candidate with Alfredo Angulo there was suddenly a lot of people jumping back on the Kirkland bandwagon. You can understand why they jumped off in the first place, once Kirkland left Wolfe after returning to the ring from a prison sentence. But Ishida’s first round KO of him was, we’ll say it, a fluke. Never would it happen again. It reeks of a man lost in his own head, lacking the confidence which is so important to a fighter. It’s back now though. And Carlos Molina better look out.
Molina, a 28 year old Mexican American fighter, does not have a spectacular record. It currently stands at 19-4 with 6 knockouts. Frankly he isn’t in Kirkland’s league. Molina lacks the ring generalship to be able to force Kirkland where he wants him, or the lateral movement to dance around him. Those two factors are huge in this fight. If you can’t get away from Kirkland’s punishing offensive attack you aren’t going to last 10 rounds with him. And if you don’t have the KO power to stand and trade with this cat you’re in an even deeper hole. Molina needs to have the fight of his life to stand a chance otherwise this is one more step in the path to redemption of James Kirkland.
Saturday nights “proving ground” makes its next stop with the Main Event on NBC Sports pitting former top 5 welterweight fighter Zab Judah against Vernon Paris. Judah’s last outing was a controversial KO loss to Amir Khan. You might remember it for Judah’s protesting for a low blow, which would be believable if you’ve never taken a human anatomy course. Unless this cats nuts are in his belly button he got put down with a clear body shot. His constant protesting throughout the fight leads us to believe Judah simply does not have that much left in him. Staying on the canvas, hoping to get a point deduction for Khan for the apparent low blow, stunk of a man no longer having the fight in him which brought him off the streets of Brooklyn to the top of the welterweight division. Because of that we believe Vernon Paris is going to earn himself a very big victory in his still young career. Judah is the more talented boxer but if you don’t have the fire in you anymore you’re done.
Don’t forget to check out Friday night’s ShoBox as well. Diego Magdaleno is one of the best upcoming prospects in the game and he’s going to do the business once again and continue to move on up the rankings in the 130lb division.