Boxing and politics are one in the same, in that many people believe that they have a particularly high understanding of the two subjects, but it must be understood that unless you are one of the components that work from the inside it’s hard to fully comprehend every aspect. The problem is the ability for the observer to understand the fallacies from the outside looking in; that is where true knowledge comes into play.
Boxing is a bit different from politics, but the understanding is similar in that we can only imagine how unethical it really is, yet, none of us could ever fully understand the true belly of the beast.
James Kirkland was a guest on ThaBoxingVoice.com’s radio show last night; it was Kirkland’s first interview since the “Canelo Sweepstakes” scandal. The perceived notion of that scandal, or at least what was being reported, was that Kirkland was offered a fight with Saul “Canelo” Alvarez on September 15th after Alvarez’s original opponent, Paul Williams, suffered a horrific motorcycle accident that left him paralyzed from the waist down. Kirkland – who was coming off of a shoulder injury – accepted the fight only to turn it down a day later, citing his shoulder wouldn’t be ready in time as the reason.
However, the very next day Kirkland reportedly said he’d fight hurt if his purse was increased to 2.5 million dollars. The backlash was abundant from both media and fans alike. Kirkland — a native of Austin, Texas — was apparently receiving bad advice from a friend of his named Curtis Meeks, as opposed to his manager Cameron Dunkin or his attorney/adviser Michael Miller.
Although James did do an interview with The Ring during this time, it wasn’t until now that he felt like opening up about everything and telling his version of the full story. Kirkland gave Thaboxingvoice.com the exclusive interview.
Kirkland described the whole “Canelo” offer and how he felt in regards to what was fair to him. First, describing the nature of his injury as it related to his willingness to take the fight.
“I tore my arm up, I went to have a Doctor look at it and they gave me the estimated time as far as my arm getting [back to normal], just now my arm is [working like a regular arm]. When you’re fighting a fight like an Alvarez fight, you want to make sure you’re at your top. You don’t want to go into [that kind of fight] with one arm working and the other half working.”
“Not just that, but in the 154lb weight class I have a worth, a certain worth that you have as a fighter and when you’re ranked number 1 in the world by 2 different belts, you’re like hey I’m ready to fight whoever. Alvarez is that Cat that I want to fight, I want to make sure I’m at my best and if I’m at my best then make sure you pay me what I’m worth, just in case my arm gives out and I can’t box no more, make sure I get paid what I’m worth,” Kirkland said.
Kirkland went on to describe his feelings towards what he perceived to be unfair terms of compensation between Ortiz and himself.
“They told me some stuff, but in the backdoor they offered [the Canelo fight] to Victor Ortiz, who’s never fought at the 154lb weight class. [Ortiz] has never been ranked at the 154lb weight class and how in the world are you going to offer him some extreme amount of money. It’s like someone offering me pennies and they’re giving him dollars.”
It seems as though this past year has really taken its toll on James, a man who is ferocious inside the ring, but like most men he’s still susceptible to emotions.
“I’m down and out when it comes down to having faith in my team right now; you know it’s just a bad thing for me right now. It’s got my spirit down,” Kirkland said.
Explaining further on the details of the failed Canelo fight, Kirkland tried rationalizing his stance on the situation.
“With my arm messed up, the type of money I asked for the fight was not overboard. This is what this fight is worth and it’s like give [me what this fight is worth] and make this fight happen. Being the warrior and fighter that I am, I’m going to get ready in the best shape of my life to fight this guy with 1 ½ arms and I’m willing to take that challenge because the money’s there and it’s right; but if I’m not going to get paid for that type of fight and my arm is still messed up then I’d rather go ahead and wait it out and wait till I get paid right.”
James Kirkland was last seen in the ring against Carlos Molina back in March of this year. That fight ended in a disqualification win for Kirkland, but he didn’t look overly impressive in that fight to say the least. In fact, he was down on two of the judges’ scorecards and aside from a very impressive 10th round knockdown of Molina, Kirkland failed to gain any merit in a fight he was clearly losing. The knockdown in the 10th is what led to the DQ when Molina got back to his feet his corner entered the ring as referee Jon Schorle was still in the process of administering Molina’s standing 8-count. Although the bell rang to signify the end of the 10th, because you can’t be saved by the bell, the round wasn’t over and therefore the corner entered the ring during the round, prompting the DQ.
James spoke about the fight and how he felt betrayed by those in his corner that night due to the fact that his team was more concerned about the fight continuing even if it meant a loss for him.
“I since then went back and re-watched the [Carlos Molina fight] and my own teammate, the people in my own camp, the people that are supposed to have my best interests at heart; I sat there and watched how they acted with the cut-man that was on my side.”
“I saw that, regardless of the circumstances, the fight was supposed to be a disqualification because of [what happened in the fight with Molina’s corner stepping in the ring], but [my own teammate] was cussing [my cut-man] out and telling him to shut up because he was yelling out “disqualification” and “you have to stop this fight.” Regardless of whatever it was, they were cussing him out and telling him to shut up. When you see that on camera, you ask yourself, how do these people have my best interests at heart?”
The truth is even though we all know that it was a cheap win, still, the people in James’ corner should be more concerned with his fighters best interests as opposed to what can be misconstrued as a cheap win.
“Then my trainer [Anne Wolfe] gets in the ring and tells [Molina] you won the fight. No matter what happens, your trainer is never supposed to get in there and [tell the opponent they won the fight]. Anyone can understand that something wasn’t [going right with my team],” Kirkland said.
Then, in the most compelling part of the interview, James Kirkland described to thaboxingvoice.com never before known events that led up to the fight when he described a substance in the form of 2 black pills he was giving moments before the fight with Molina.
“When I fought Carlos Molina I was offered two black pills in the fight. They said “Kirkland, take these 2 black pills.” I took them because you’re thinking that your coach and your manager got your best interests at heart. As soon as I took those pills, maybe 10 minutes into preparing for that fight, I felt like I was high as a kite and it felt like I was seeing 2 people.”
“I was like man what the hell is this? I knew that [Molina] is an awkward Cat so I had to be on my game plan 100% to be able to beat him. My game plan was to get in and let my hands go and at the same time press him, but I was so delirious and so messed up that I couldn’t even put forth any effort into pressing because my timing was off, my equilibrium was off, my movement is off pace. I couldn’t perform like I needed to perform and everyone is like why isn’t Kirkland performing like himself?”
“I tried not to show that I was hurt, so you do the best thing you know and that is stay in there and keep fighting, something’s got to give. After all that hard work of pressing and pressing I either sweat that stuff out or it worked through my system. Then, I was able to punch the way I can punch and boom, I dropped him. They gave [Molina] the 8 count and his coach wanted to jump in the ring during the 8 count and they disqualified him,” Kirkland said.
After this shocking revelation, James went on to describe the current state of his team as it correlates with how he had been handled up to this point. He made it clear that he has fired everyone from his team including trainer Anne Wolfe.
“I don’t know if everybody knows, but I fired everybody in my team just recently, so everybody is a little upset at me right now and I understand the situation,” Kirkland said.
Another shocking statement Kirkland made was that he didn’t have any sparring prior to his bout with Nobuhiro Ishida — the first and only fighter to hand Kirkland a loss – and that they couldn’t find anyone. Kirkland came in noticeably under-conditioned in that fight, prompting a switch back to his original trainer Anne Wolfe.
Although James made it clear he is no longer with Wolfe, he did say he admired her a great deal and that she is excellent at what she does. He also made it clear that the door isn’t closed on their professional relationship, but that the only way it could be mended is if he could work with her without a contract of any sort.
Wolfe could not be reached for comment immediately after the interview, at this point James’ story is only one side of things. However, the nature of this business suggests that anything is possible. Anyone can try and discredit Kirkland’s allegations and write them off as pure speculation from a disgruntled fighter, and perhaps it’s true. However, are we so naive to believe that amongst all the atrociousness in boxing, certain scandals are just too farfetched?
The aspect that will go unnoticed is that there is a deeply hurt man in Austin right now. Regardless of the circumstances, James’ is a human being capable of compassion and vulnerability; those two entities are dangerous when given so freely. However, the most dangerous aspect of it all is the fact that this talented young man has nowhere to go at this point. Sure Kirkland can still land great fights and his name still maintains a certain amount of intrigue, but in this game you are only as talented as the man pulling the strings behind you.
Kirkland could possibly be the best 154lber on earth and he is wasting away with his mind trapped in uncertainty.
I once thought it was unfortunate for Kirkland to be in jail at a potentially lucrative time in his fight career and that he was forced to miss out on his career due to his stint behind bars. Now, I submit that Kirkland is trapped in a theoretical jail cell, with bars made of regret and despair. Perhaps I’m not the best candidate to make the assumption, but I can’t imagine what would be worse: being in prison and having your career pass you by or being free and having your career pass you by? Either way, it’s disheartening.
For Full Audio ff This Interview Click Here: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/thaboxingvoiceradioshow/2012/08/12/robert-garcia-marcus-watson-james-kirkland-ava-knight