Canelo Alvarez’s only career loss came against Floyd Mayweather, but the Mexican star won’t coast to an easy victory in his upcoming bout. The light middleweight is set to take on James Kirkland on May 9 in what could end up being one of the most exciting fights of 2015.
The match wasn’t Alvarez’s first choice, as he had been looking to fight middleweight champion Miguel Cotto. But when talks between the two sides broke off in January, Alvarez moved on to a new opponent. The 24-year-old is a 2/11 favorite over Kirkland (15/4).
Alvarez is arguably the top active Mexican boxer, and he’d further that case with a convincing victory over Kirkland. Juan Manuel Marquez hasn’t fought in nearly a year, and it’s unknown for sure if the 41-year-old will get back in the ring anytime soon.
Alvarez's popularity is certainly hard to deny. As Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao look to shatter several boxing records when they meet in the ring on May 2, they’ll be topping a mark that includes Alvarez. His fight with Mayweather in September 2013 drew 2.2 million pay-per-view buys and grossed a record-setting $150 million. Mayweather’s next fight with Marcos Maidana generated less than one million PPV buys.
The defeat to Mayweather in a majority decision was Alvarez’s only loss to date. Kirkland’s one defeat came against Japan’s Nobuhiro Ishida in a shocking knockout three years ago. Since then, he’s won five consecutive fights.
Even though Kirkland is on a winning streak, he doesn’t enter the fight with much momentum. His last bout came at the end of 2013 when he forced a sixth-round stoppage against Glen Tapia. Kirkland has remained out of the ring because of a dispute with promoter 50 Cent.
With his opponent having so much time between fights, Alvarez has been made a heavy favorite to emerge victorious. But Kirkland is a dangerous boxer who has a chance to make the bout closer than some might think.
Kirkland’s career has been derailed by legal problems, but he’s one of the most talented fighters in the light middleweight division. His punching power is second to none, recording 28 knockouts in his 33 career fights. Kirkland hasn’t won via decision since 2007 when he beat Mohammad Said.
While Kirkland might have to combat some ring rust for not fighting in a year and a half, his knockout ability should still be there. Alvarez has never been knocked out, but landing the right punch could help the underdog pull off the upset victory.
No matter the end result, Kirkland will bring the fight to Alvarez. Even in Kirkland’s one loss, the fight didn’t get out of the first round.
“Canelo is the total package in the ring,” Kirkland said, via fightsaga.com. “But I see certain things that I can take advantage of on fight night. At the end of the day, I want to be able to smell Canelo’s breath.
"I want to be that close to him…like a sweater. I want to bring that kind of fight to him from round one to round twelve…if it goes that far.”
Kirkland has won his last five fights, and only one has gone beyond the sixth round. He’s defeated the likes of Carlos Molina Alfredo Angulo and Alexis Hloros. After losing to Mayweather, Alvarez won both his bouts in 2014. He beat Angulo via TKO in the 10th round, followed by a split decision victory over Erislandy Lara in July.
Alvarez has plenty of punching power, himself, recording 31 knockouts in 46 career fights. With Kirkland unafraid to take chances, Alvarez could score another one in an eventful bout.
Prediction: Alvarez by TKO