|Catching Up With James Kirkland
By Gabriel Montoya (Aug 14, 2007) Doghouse Boxing
Last week I had the pleasure of talking to rising junior middleweight contender James Kirkland. To my surprise, the Austin native is here in L.A. sparring with Sergio ‘The Latin Snake’ Mora to prepare him for his showdown with Kasim ‘The Dream’ Ouma on September 15th. Kirkland, last seen having the fight of his life while headlining a ShoBox card against Ossie Duran, was both very open about that fight and optimistic about the future.
Gabriel Montoya: Hey, James. I’ve been wondering what’s been up with you. We haven’t talked in a minute. What’s the
latest with James Kirkland?
James Kirkland: I’ve been preparing for September 1st (on Showtime against TBA). I’m in training camp in Los Angeles right now.
GM: You’re in Los Angeles?
JK: Yes, sir. You know Sergio Mora? From the Contender show?
JK: I’m training with him. Getting him ready for Kasim Ouma.
JK: Yeah. I’m working with him and also getting in shape for my fight.
GM: Who’re you fighting next?
JK: Fighting some guy. I don’t even know his name.
GM: Have you seen any tapes of him or anything?
JK: No, sir.
GM: Is this a sort of stay busy fight for you?
JK: No. I’m training hard. I’m getting in shape and working hard. The weight’s dropping fast.
GM: Good to hear, man. Let’s talk a little about your last fight versus Ossie Duran. When we spoke before it, you said you weren’t 100%. You weren’t getting the sparring you needed. If you had to grade your last performance, how would you?
JK: Very, very poor. I didn’t get the proper training. I had to lose a whole lot of weight in a short period of time. I wasn’t eating right. I wasn’t drinking right. I had to really try and break him down. I had to dig deep down. But you know, sparring with Sergio and helping him get focused is really helping.
GM: It sounds like a whole other level than what you were getting in Texas.
JK: No it’s not a different level. It’s just I get to think boxing, sleep boxing, eat boxing. I can put all of my focus on boxing.
GM: Is Anne [Wolfe, Kirkland’s co trainer] with you?
JK: No. I’m out here alone. But they [Wolfe and Pops Billingsley] are coming up next week.
GM: So is that basically the difference in you now? That you don’t have to do like you were in Texas where you had to drive three hours to Houston just to get good sparring?
JK: Yeah. We’re training like every other day.
GM: Just you and Sergio or are you sparring other people?
JK: Just him and me. But they said they are bringing in like four other people. I need more rounds. I want to try and get at least like 15 rounds every time I spar. So they are bringing in more people so they can split it up and give two to me and two to him.
GM: So after this fight, are you looking to fight again this year?
JK: I am looking to fight for a world title real fast. So we are looking to fight some one in the top ten.
GM: Like maybe fighting the winner of Vargas/Mayorga?
JK: Hell yeah. I would love to fight that. You can print that, too.
GM: I will, I will. Either way the winner would be a natural for you. Getting back to your last fight, you seem like you came out the gate strong, then kind of faded a bit in the middle, then you had to use your skills and your intelligence. Can you talk a bit about what got you through to that win?
JK: What got me through that fight was like, I ran out at a certain pace. I seen that his jab was real long. So I let him come to me. Used my jab just a little bit. I would let him flurry so I could try and catch him. I seen that ain’t working. So I started giving him a little rock, just a little something. And I started moving, turning him, feinting.
GM: So you’re looking for a title shot by the end of the year?
JK: By the end of the year or beginning of next year.
GM: When we last talked you said you were still working off the rust. You still feel that way or are you more into a groove now?
JK: Yeah I am starting to feel my groove. Starting to enjoy it. Guys think that [to beat me] they need to take me into deep waters ‘cause I throw so many punches. They don’t understand I am starting to enjoy the late rounds cause I get to have fun beating on my opponent. I don’t run out of gas cause I train hard, real hard. I can take any kind of punch. I spar heavyweights and super, super heavyweights. Small kids, fast kids. I train with them all.
GM: Anything else going on with you?
JK: Yeah, man. (A smile can be heard over the phone.) I am about to be a father again next week. A little girl.
GM: That’s cool, man. Congratulations. How many kids do you have?
JK: I’m about to have two. I have a little boy and now a little girl.
GM: That’s great, man. You have a name picked out?
GM: That’s a nice name. That’s who you are fighting for, man. Do you ever think about that in a fight? It’s the late rounds , it’s getting tough and the guy keeps coming. Does that get you through?
JK: If I lose a fight it’s like I am losing money for kids. I always give it more than an opponent. If a guy gives me one, I have to give him two. I can box, too. People don’t think that. What they don’t realize is that it isn’t that I don’t have those skills. It’s that I prefer taking it to him.
GM: Have you come close to your potential?
JK: No not at all. But I’ll get there. The way I am training, what I am doing. I’m giving it that all. And people will say ‘there he goes’.
GM: Thanks, man.
JK: No problem.
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