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Boxing News, June 15, 2007

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Hungry Like The Wolf
Two Fighters Who Actually Want To Fight



James “Mandingo” Kirkland is a compelling jr. middle that’s been getting invaluable exposure on ShoBox. Like his trainer Anne Wolfe, he’s built like a brick house and doesn’t take a backward step. While he revealed several technical flaws against the tough and savvy Ossie Duran, he proved that he possesses a necessary intangible for success as a prizefighter: character.

Now 19-0 (16), Kirkland went 10 invaluable rounds at the Chumash Casino in Santa Ynez, CA, against a wily vet who’s never been stopped. The scores were 92-97 twice and 94-95 all for Kirkland.

Going in, the southpaw Kirkland complained that he hadn’t had good sparring and was in poor condition. I believe him. His hometown, Austin, Texas, has never been recognized as a boxing town speckled with gyms. I wouldn’t be surprised if Wolfe gives him his best work.  If he ever wants to live up to his potential, he needs to move, if not to Las Vegas or Los Angles, then at least to more active parts of the Lone Star State. Houston and San Antonio come to mind.

What impressed, however, was that James didn’t fight like a guy who was allegedly under-trained. He threw a ton of punches, and broke down Duran with thudding blows that never stopped coming.  

Kirland did a bid in prison that interrupted his young career from 2004 to 2005. He fights like a man who doesn’t want to return and has the fortitude to go places in this game. He was in a fight this night, and won by drawing his deep reserves of will, not skill.

Ossie, now 23-6-1 (9), is no slouch and owns wins over some decent names, including Jamie Moore. He didn’t have much an amateur career in his native Accra, Ghana and can’t punch, but like most members of the Ga tribe, he tough. The bulk of his pro career took place London and in 2006 he moved to Providence, RI, where he’s now trained by Peter Manfredo, St.

Duran was dropped with a short right hand on top of his head early in the first. He shook it off and smartly went to his excellent jab and lateral movement, which neutralized his man. Ossie had most of his success when he kept it on the outside, but since he’s also comfortable in close, he often lapsed into that range. Kirkland was glad to mix it up there.

Kirkland doesn’t have deft footwork and has a tendency to square up and get flat-footed. Even though he moves his head, he ate a lot of lefts because he forgets to jab his way inside.

Still he scored the more telling blows, and never stopped pitching.  Duran’s corner—which had been doing a solid job—told their charge he was winning the fight after the eighth. Were they thinking he couldn’t handle the truth? ShoBox’s reliable ringside analyst Steve Farhood had it 77-74 for Kirkland.

Kirkland continued to press in the ninth and Duran decided to go toe-to-toe for the first time. James’ work-rate didn’t wane in the final round and Duran just didn’t have enough pop to turn the tide.

No matter what the rankings might suggest, Kirkland is merely an interesting prospect. He’ll need a lot of fine-tuning in order to beat the caliber of boxers that await him. But at 23, time is on his side. Duran, seven years his senior, is not so lucky.

Jnr. welter Timothy Bradley, 23, is another fighter we’ve gotten to know through his recent outings at the Chumach Casino televised on ShoBox. A decorated amateur, he looked suspect in his first appearance on the network last December against veteran Jaime Rangel. But a couple months later against Manuel Garnica, we learned what all the fuss was about. He looked the total package in knocking down this foe three times.

Against gutsy Donald Camarena, the question wasn’t whether Bradley would win but how good would he look doing it. And could he possibly stop a fighter who had never lost that way before.

In this one sense, Bradley failed. He won a UD 10 by scores of 99-91 twice and 100-90. In every other way, he aced the test—no one can say he didn’t win in grand fashion.

Bradley is now 20-0 (11) and Camarena goes to 18-4 (9).

“Desert Storm,” as Bradley calls himself, had no problem solving his opponent’s southpaw style. Speed, movement, athleticism and power, Bradley had the edge in virtually every category. Except height—at 5’6’’ he’s a bit short for the weight class.

A beautiful right hand counter by Bradley in the second set the tone for this 10-rounder. In spite of his protests to the contrary, it had to be very discouraging to Camarena. And the hits just kept on coming. Bradley is a sharp boxer with catlike reflexes who—unlike, say, Floyd Mayweather—tries to mow you down. He doesn’t have homerun power but he’s got a fighter’s mentality, a willingness to bring it and give the fan’s what they want.

Bradley is among the sharpest prospects in the game. We now know without question that he’s graduated from the Camarenas of the world. Steve Farhood threw out a couple potentially threatening names for his next outing—Juan Lazcano and Panchito Bojado.

I’m game. I’m sure Bradley is too.    





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