James Kirkland, like many up-and-coming fighters, has something to prove. It's easy for even a young and talented fighter to be missed when there are countless others to choose from. But a record of 18-0 with a boastful 16 KOs, the light middleweight has established himself as a power hitter which will surely catch even the casual fan's eye. And he has the work rate of fighters from yesteryear, fighting six times in 2006 and once already this year.
SaddoBoxing spoke to James regarding his latest obstacle, former Commonwealth Light Middle and Welter Champion Ossie Duran of Ghana, whom Kirkland fights on June 1 at the Chumash Casino in Santa Ynez , California on ShoBox, but first we spoke to his trainer, Ann Wolfe.
SaddoBoxing: What does James do well right now that is going to be a problem for the elites?
Anne Wolfe: "He puts constant pressure on you. I think a lot of people are goning say they think he's wild, but he is a very intelligent fighter and he knows how to move. Better than people can imagine. He's got some punching power, out this world."
SB: How long have you trained him?
AW: "I've been training him probably about six years."
SB: What was the rationale behind fighting Duran?
AW: "Cameron and all them put together the fights. Ossie is a good fighter, he's been 12 rounds at least six or seven times. He gotta have a chin going 12 rounds. He's completed every fight he's ever fought. James Kirkland is the type of fighter who can fight twice a month. When I came to the gym, he was 12 years old. Every single weekend he was going to fights."
SB: James, you're fighting Ossie Duran on the first next month. What threat does he pose to you?
JK: "I really don't see any threat. I spar with bangers. We go more than 12 rounds training-wise. I really don't see any major threat at all."
SB: Fighters from Ghana are typically known for their iron chins and this is your second ten round fight; is the expectation to see how you fare against a guy who more than likely is going to last all ten rounds?
JK: "No. He's not gonna last ten rounds. Whatever game plan he comes with, more power to him. As far as me and my game plan, I can punch from round 1 to round 12 and keep bangin, keep pressin'. I can do that til the end of the fight. As long as he can go on and keep taking that punishment, more power to him."
SB: What are you able to do better at junior middleweight than at the lesser weights?
JK: "I learn a lot of stuff from the people I'm fighting. Feeling a lot better, feeling more relaxed and letting my punches do what they do."
SB: Are you staying at junior middle or can you see yourself moving up?
JK: "First I'm gonna try to get some of these world titles and if not all of them, step up to 160."
SB: What fighter do you think you'll need to beat in order to break into the elites?
JK: "Whoever is in the top ten. I really don't know anybody in the top ten, I'm just taking one fighter at a time. I'm not looking past this dude, I'm just looking for a good fight. I hope he comes in good condition, well trainined and is just ready to fight."
SB: Are you worried about doing too much too soon and ending up another flavor of the month like Edison Miranda?
JK: "I believe that whoever is moving me, I just want to be put in the top ten fast. I'm not scared of nobody, I can take a punch. I'm a southpaw. I got a pretty nice defensive game."
SB: What do you think of Travis Simms and the other champs at 154?
JK: "To be honest to you I don't have cable, I don't pay too much attention to boxing. I saw the Contender show one year, I really wanted to be on there. I only got to watch that because I was in jail."
SB: Everything going okay for you now?
JK: "Oh yeah, I'm training real well."
SB: Is there anything you'd like to say in closing?
JK: "God gave me this talent so I give all thanks to God."