Kirkland-Julio Fight Preview

March 7, 2009

Tonight, the HP Pavilion in San Jose will showcase a potential future world champion in the 154 pound division, as rising junior middleweight prospect James "The Mandingo Warrior" Kirkland (24-0, 21 KO) will clash with Colombian slugger Joel "Love Child" Julio (34-2, 31 KO).

Because both men bring concussive punching power, this fight is all but certain to end in a knockout.

So, who will be the last man standing?

The answer is found below, in the's fight breakdown and crystal ball prediction of the outcome.

What Julio Must Do to Win

Julio is considered to be another in a long line of marginally-skilled Colombian sluggers. Although known mostly for his power (Julio's 31 knockouts in 36 career fights gives him a KO percentage of 86%), Julio has shown some boxing ability, most notably in his narrow victory over slick counter-puncher Ishe Smith. However, as with many Colombian fighters, his early record is believed to have been padded with fights against sub-par competition under uncertain conditions in his native country.

Nonetheless, Julio will be effective against Kirkland if he is able to remain calm in the face of a sure-to-be furious onslaught. Kirkland's hard charges should provide Julio with his best chance to land cleanly. Therefore, it is crucial for Julio to counter Kirkland's left-hand bombs with big right hands of his own.

That same strategy briefly proved successful for Allen Conyers in his bout against Kirkland, as he was able to drop Kirkland in the first round before eventually losing. Julio would be wise to use a similar counterattack in tonight's fight.

If Julio cannot catch his man with big right hands, his only remaining hope would be to try to box, hold, and take Kirkland into the proverbial "deep waters." Since Kirkland's stamina is unproven, Julio may gain an edge the longer the fight lasts.

Julio does have one promising factor in his favor. In his preparation for this fight, Julio sparred extensively with former Junior Middleweight Champion Kassim Ouma. Reportedly, Julio more than held his own against the experienced, crafty southpaw.

What Kirkland Must Do to Win

Land punches. Quite simply, when Kirkland connects, he knocks men off of their feet. His numbers speak for themselves -- 21 knockouts in 24 career fights, 19 fights lasting four rounds or less, and countless opponents knocked silly.

However, there are those who have voiced concerns that Kirkland's stunning punching power may actually be his own worst enemy. In other words, their fear is that Kirkland may become seduced by his own power, and thus, swing wildly for the fences. As a result, he not only could expose himself to sharp counters, but also could neglect the other, more subtle aspects of his game.

Kirkland is a freakishly strong and gifted specimen, who has routinely knocked opponents back with his thudding "up jab." As long as trainer Ann Wolfe keeps Kirkland focused on calmly breaking his man down shot by shot, then Julio will simply be overpowered. Hence, Kirkland must be wise enough to stick to his gameplan and avoid throwing any impulsive haymakers.

And the Winner is . . .

Kirkland, via 6th Round TKO stoppage.

By Kweku Turkson
Staff Reporter for

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