The tickets for the card in Atlantic City headlined by Guillermo Rigondeaux and Joseph Agbeko go on sale today. But the fight with most action and bombs traded will probably come one fight before, when ‘Jersey Boy’ Glen Tapia takes on James “The Mandingo Warrior” Kirkland. Kirkland is coming off an 18 month layoff where he hasn’t fought, made comments to Tha Boxing Voice about his trainer Ann Wolfe drugging him with black pills, suing his former promoter Golden Boy, and looking overweight in some of his most recent photos. Amidst all that, he has reunited with Ann Wolfe who most agree brings the best out of Kirkland.
Glen Tapia likes the sound of that. “I hope so; I want the best James Kirkland, so when I beat him there’s no excuse. Like oh, it was a bad James Kirkland. I want him to be the best he can be, you know he’s strong and he’s a tough dude. It’s not really that much skill, it will, he’s always going to have that will but I have that skill,” Tapia said when I visited him this past weekend in a gym in Middletown, New Jersey.
Before his last fight in September, Tapia fought a step up fight in Abi Han. It was an entertaining scrap that Tapia won by 8th round TKO. A fight with Kirkland is seen as not just a huge step up but a task to show Tapia belongs. He senses the feeling and wants to prove himself to the world on HBO.
“It’s my shot to show everyone that I’m here to stay. Everybody’s afraid of him (Kirkland). Everyone thinks he’s a monster, so I’m here to show you that he’s not. I’m not afraid. It’s time to show my skills and that he’s not on my level.”
While reports out of the Kirkland camp are that he and Ann Wolfe haven’t missed a stride and that James Kirkland is in shape, this bout is taking place 2 lbs above the Jr. Middleweight limit, something that Tapia isn’t worried about but thinks it’s funny especially because Wolfe has said Kirkland was on weight already.
“The weight is 156, it doesn’t matter, and they’re saying he’s on weight right now. Ann Wolfe said he’s in weight right now, so I don’t know why we doing the catch weight but it’s cool, a few pounds,” stated Tapia.
Tapia has brought in a roster full of southpaws to mimic the pressure of James Kirkland. When I visited him this past Monday, he sparred Chris Chatman. Now while Chatman may hit like James Kirkland, he certainly resembled the pressure Kirkland may apply come December 7th
“He (Chatman) actually puts pressure a couple of rounds, he puts the same type of punches, he’s aggressive you know, you can’t really have a bad day with him cause he’ll come after you. He kind of looks likes James too, so I think it’s good,” Tapia said jokingly.
Now common logic would be to test a guy early who hasn’t fought in a year in a half. To Glen however, there is no specific game plan. He may want to rush him early or he may want to test Kirkland out and adapt.
“A lot of things could happen I could knock him out, I could outbox him, I could bum rush him. I’ll see in the few first rounds how I’ll have to fight him. I could change it up, either or. I could fight like he fights, and brawl, or I can outbox him, I like entertaining the crowd so we’ll see how long that lasts.”
Tapia understands that boxing is a business and a sport, so he knows the value of entertaining the TV audience and the live crowd, a crowd in Atlantic City on December 7th that is only 2 hrs away from his hometown of Passaic, NJ. That why he wants to win and do it in spectacular fashion.
“I fight real hard; I’m going to give you entertainment and a show. I want to be one of the best champions out there but it all starts with a win against Kirkland. Jersey supports me like crazy; you know I’m the Jersey Boy. Everybody from my home town comes to support me, I can’t wait.”