"I watched some tape on him. I've seen the type of skills that he got. To me, he reminds me a lot of a Bryan Vera. He throws a lot more punches and he's up and down, meaning that he'll move, but you know, as far as me, I'm going to always apply that certain type of pressure. They say he's an inside fighter too, but I doubt that's going to happen. Just like everybody I've recently fought or have been fighting, you know, some guys be inside fighters and some guys be boxers, but every time I fight a person that's an inside fighter and I end up trying to fight him the way he knows how to do, they go to boxing. So okay, cool, you know, I make them go to what they only know, and that's to try and stay in that paint, and I just tear a piece of their soul, little by little, round by round. Some people just feel that punch and they can't take it...my eagerness to win and please my fans is most high because I gave them a bad error. I took away from them my time. I took away from them my skill and my ability to fight. I just want to be able to tell my fans, man, thank you for supporting me. The old Kirkland is back. I come to win and I definitely come to show and put on a good show," stated hard-hitting jr. middleweight contender James Kirkland, who talked about his victory over Alfredo Angulo, his upcoming clash with Carlos Molina, and much more. Check it out!
BT: James, what's going on my man?
JK: I can't complain; can't complain.
BT: So March 24th, you've got Carlos Molina coming up. Have you already started preparing for that fight?
JK: It's a little ways away, but I'm just gonna go ahead and start now. I watched some tape on him. I've seen the type of skills that he got. To me, he reminds me a lot of a Bryan Vera. He throws a lot more punches and he's up and down, meaning that he'll move, but you know, as far as me, I'm going to always apply that certain type of pressure. They say he's an inside fighter too, but I doubt that's going to happen. Just like everybody I've recently fought or been fighting, you know, some guys be inside fighters and some guys be boxers, but every time I fight a person that's an inside fighter and I end up trying to fight him the way he knows how to do, they go to boxing. So okay, cool, you know, I make them go to what they only know, and that's to try and stay in that paint, and I just tear a piece of their soul, little by little, round by round. Some people just feel that punch and they can't take it. They just go at, you know?
BT: You mentioned that he reminds you a lot of Bryan Vera. You used to spar with Vera, right?
JK: Yeah. I know his style to the tee. I know what type of fighter he is; I know how he throws his combinations. The dude [Molina] has the same type of skills as Bryan Vera, but he throws more than one punch. He's a person that's going to be an in-and-out fighter, meaning he's going to come in, throw his shots, try to go out and then try and confuse you and throw you off balance, he's going to be squatting down and bending over, different type of stuff that I'm going tell myself, "Don't do it! Don't do it!" Like I said, it's all fun and games to me. I've been doing this since I was kid, but I love it. I love it! I can't wait to fight. They say he's in the gym. He's been training ever since he heard about the fight. I said, "Oh shit, man, don't overkill, man! Don't do that!" He just train, train, train, train, train thinking that's going to make him super strong, but it's going to make him super weak. I guess because I train so hard, it's going to be like him training all that time ain't even going to equal up to what I'm going to be for the fight, because I train so hard. But it's good he's training. I mean, you know, I just know it's going to be a good fight. I know it ain't no pushover fight. I'm not underestimating him at all. I hear a little bit people say, "Yeah, that's what Kirkland's doing. He's underestimating him." Shit no! You see what happened with Ishida (laughing). Shit! That wasn't just underestimating him. That was underestimating him a little bit and the training wasn't halfway there. I'm going to be all the way on point this time.
BT: You had to take that fight [vs. Ishida] on short notice too, right?
JK: Ishida? Yeah. Man, I didn't know nothing about Ishida. I had like 2 or 3 people pull out and then he just jumped straight in, so I was like, "Okay, cool."
BT: A lot of people started asking questions about you after that fight. A lot of people were wondering if you had that type of performance against Angulo still in you.
JK: A lot of people are spectacting and saying they wonder if Kirkland has a chin. I mean, it didn't really mess with me, but I just kind of said, "Damn, how stupid can these people possibly be?" I lose one fight and I don't have a chin? When you don't get sparring and you don't get hit in the head or something like that...like in football, say you been practicing every day, y'all hitting the shoulder pads every day and y'all doing y'all thing poppin'. Just imagine you given 2 years off from playing football and you put on a fresh pair of pads and just go out there thinking that you gonna hit the same way or think that you can take the same type of hit that you was taking before you went. You're not. You're gonna think the dudes got either really, really stronger or think that you done got really, really fatigued; that you can't do this no more and this is not your sport. That's how you gonna feel if you're not getting that type of sparring. I didn't really spar. So if you ain't sparring and taking no punches, and not seeing any realistic moves and dodging and taking and feeling pain and giving pain back, if you not feeling that, how are you going to be able to adjust to it? That just makes perfect sense with the whole situation with what my training camp was like when I got ready and got prepared for Ishida. I ain't have no sparring. I trained once a day; it was crazy. Man, you look at all the knockouts that I got and the type of people that I fought, and people that hit ten times harder than this person, but you're telling me I fought a dude that may be the lightest hitter that I done fought, and he dropped me, but do I have a chin? I said, man, evidently, somebody don't know right from wrong.
BT: (Laughing) That's a good point when you bring up the football comparison. I never looked at it that way.
JK: People don't know it because they haven't stepped in that zone or they're not thinking with common sense. If you think with common sense, you'll be like, "Oh, now I see why. Kirkland didn't get the right type of training for that fight." Any other fight besides that, that fight and the fight that I had before that. They said, "Oh, Kirkland looked good. Kirkland got hit with this, but oh, Kirkland did that." I overcame the situations, but just that fight right there, man, I didn't have nothing really right, you know? But now they see Kirkland fight one of the hardest punchers in this game and in my weight class, a one-shot firepower person, not nobody who has to cumulate and set up punch after punch after punch to make his opponent go down, he can make it happen off one shot, you know, and it's crazy, I fight him and we go toe to toe, but I still got a glass chin (laughing). Y'all believe that. Keep that in your mind (laughing).
BT: Talk to me about your fight with Angulo. What was going through your head when you guys went to war?
JK: I came well, well, well prepared. I knew what I was up against. I told myself, "I'm going to die in this ring before I let this man beat me." I already took a loss to Ishida because I didn't train the way I trained for ol' boy [Angulo]. It was a learning experience for me. Everybody had me counted out. People were like, "Aw, Kirkland's not going to be able to come back." Now they gave me Fighter of the Year and Round of the Year, all different kinds of stuff (laughing).
BT: When Angulo caught you with that right hand, you didn't appear to be quite as hurt as he seemed to think you were. Was that just a flash knockdown?
JK: On that punch right there, if you look at the type of combination that I throw and watch what I do with my back right leg, it's like I turned and positioned myself to where I was square in front of him. I was throwing flat-footed straight in front of him. Instead of being sideways, I'm just square in front of him, so if you was to push me, I would fall off balance. He drops a right hand right on point and I fall back, not that I was hurt and falling back, but I fall back because I didn't have no balance. You can see when I'm going back, I can't pull forward, I can't move my legs nowhere, so I just fall flat back, and then at the same time, I kept my hand up there to try and make sure that he don't throw no punches while I'm down. Other than that, I wasn't hurt. And then when he came to me again and started throwing all wild, I said, "Oh yeah. I'm just going to let him throw and I'm gonna catch him in the mix," which I was doing, but then he caught me with two body shots, which hurt like hell (laughing), and then I tried to grab his ass. I said, "Let me grab this dude," and he pulled back. I said, "Okay, well shit, the body shots still hurt, but I'm still going to be catching him on the end." Eventually, he threw a certain shot, I seen it, and I jumped to the side and basically hit him with a 1-2. Shit, I seen that leg kind of do a little James Brown, but no one really caught it but me. I saw it, so I said, "Oh, okay, I gotcha now. Don't do it. Nuh uh." Shit, I said, "It's on. Let's fight." So when he went down, I said, "Oh yeah! 1 for 1." I said, "Okay Ann, watch this round right here." I told Ann, in the ring, I told her, I said, "Watch this! These people want to see a fight? I'm finna give it to 'em. The wanna see a real fight? Let me give it to 'em." Ann said, "You gotta do this. You gotta do that." I said, "Yeah, but watch this though. I already got something else planned." I was like, "Shit, we about to fight like hell. They want to see blood, sweat and tears and I'm finna give it to 'em." (Laughing)
JK: Yeah, so, it was fun. At the same, I was having fun inside the ring, so that made it perfect.
BT: Do you prefer to go to war like that? I ask because midway through that fight, you looked like you decided to change it up a little bit and give him a little bit of a boxing lesson.
JK: That's another thing too. A lot of people don't know that I can box. Our mindframe was to press him and bang him, press him and bang him, but at the same time, give him a boxing point of view of it; let him see us coming from a boxing angle, because I can hit hard with both hands, so I'm jabbin', jabbin', mixing, mixing, bop, bop, bop, bop, bop, and then be gone. Jab, jab, jab, jab, jab, and keep that to where he's second-guessing every time I'd get ready to make a move, like, "Is he just moving or is he finna throw and move." Get him to be uncomfortable.
BT: Do you think maybe they let that fight go on a little longer than it should have because they were hoping to still give him every opportunity to somehow turn it around and still win?
JK: Yeah, they know he got one-punch power. It doesn't take him a bunch of punches to make something jump. He can crack a person with one shot and the dude be out of there. Look how he did with Joel Julio. Boom! I think it was the 11th round or something like that and he seemed to be losing that fight. He got one-punch power, so they was like, "Shit man, he might catch Kirkland, because Kirkland's letting them hand just go. He might catch him in the mix." But shit, that's something that I practice on every day. It's like Mayorga, you know, how he throws all type of crazy ways and he's a crazy type of fighter, but he does that in training, so that crazy shit that you see, man, he's professional with it, he's accurate with it, you know what I'm saying?
BT: Speaking of Mayorga, that would have been a helluva fight too.
JK: Yeah man. They had that set up for us to fight at one point in time, but I was just like, if he jumpes out there, I'm gonna do just like what Cotto did with him. At first, that fight was so weak, I got up and left that fight. I'm not trying to down the fight; I'm just saying the fight was just not what I like, you know what I mean? So I got the hell up out of there. But Cotto won that fight; let him throw that little bullshit and catch him in the mix and catch him in certain situations. But me, I just feel myself applying a lot more pressure, just keep them hands up, let him throw that shit and in the mix, pop that body; bop, bing, bing, boom!
BT: You just mentioned Cotto. Obviously he's one of the champs. There's also Canelo and K9. How does the 154-pound division look to you?
JK: I see a lot of room too eat, meaning I'm ready to fight any one of those guys, K9, Alvarez, or Cotto. I just got to put myself in that position where I can be able to allow people to want to see those fights and get those fight. I'm willing to take 'em, you know, especially Alvarez. They say after this fight, it's an automatic set up for me to fight Alvarez; the same thing they said when I beat Alfredo Angulo. They was going to give me Alvarez, but evidently, something else popped up. Now I gotta fight somebody else to see about Alvarez. What I feel they're trying to see is, "Okay, he knows how to bang a banger up. We're trying to see if we can catch a flaw in Kirkland. What's Kirkland's flaw? Okay, he does this. He does that. Now let's put him in there with a dude that kind of boxes and moves, and then if that plays any type of good part in the game, we'll give Kirkland Alvarez. Alvarez knows and will try to box, give a little of this and a little of that and see if that will work, and try to set up a certain game plan and try to win." But you know me, I'm sharp, I'm on 10 toes, and I understand what the game is. It's the same thing when Pacquiao fought Marquez. When he fought him, shit, he showed too much. He opened up and showed something he wasn't supposed to show and somebody can use that as a flaw. It'll be like Mayweather saying, "Shit, you did that and you don't think I'm not gonna want to take that fight? I got to take that fight. Why won't I fight Pacquiao? Shit yeah I'll fight Pacquiao." You know what I mean? Now he can go back and look at that fight 100 times and see every mistake that Pac made and adjust to 'em, and watch the good things that ol' boy made and use those in his forte, man, his little game plan. Floyd is a scientist, man, when it comes down to certain things. He's a scientist. He's going to analyze, he's going to re-look it, he's going view it, he's going to see the structure, he's going to know what it is.
BT: Yeah, as far as I know, Floyd is licking his chops to get in the ring with Manny, but I don't think Bob Arum will ever let that happen.
JK: I let a lot of people get their hype and hopes up, but I tell them, "Hey man, officially, I understand this business and I think I understand to a certain tee that these two people are not going to fight." They're going to have in everybody's mind for years and years to come, people that are 100 years old will go, "Remember Pac? Remember Floyd? Floyd would've beat him. Nope, Pac had that Bruce Lee kick and he's going to kick his ass." (Laughing) They're going to keep those type of jokes in the house; one of those type of "if this would've happened" fights.
BT: (Laughing) I hear ya. Well I don't want to keep you on too long my man. We'll defintely get you on the site a lot more now. Is there anything else you want me to get out there for you?
JK: Just that my eagerness to win and please my fans is most high because I gave them a bad error. I took away from them my time. I took away from them my skill and my ability to fight. I just want to be able to tell my fans, man, thank you for supporting me. The old Kirkland is back. I come to win and I definitely come to show and put on a good show.
[ Follow Ben Thompson on Twitter @fighthype ]