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James Kirkland faces Jas Phipps on November 9 in San Antonio, TX

James Kirkland

By Jeff Aronow: Middleweight James Kirkland (33-2, 29 KOs) is fighting journeyman Jas Phipps (10-7, 5 KOs) in a scheduled 8 round fight next month on November 9 at the Alamodome, in San Antonio, Texas. Kirkland was a highly rated prospect 10 years ago, but his career never fulfilled the early promise that it had.


Kirkland, 35, will be fighting for just the second time since being blown out in three rounds by Saul Canelo Alvarez on May 9, 2015 in Houston, Texas. After that disappointing loss, Kirkland sat out of the ring for four years until returning last August in stopping Colby Courter (13-15, 10 KOs) in the first round in Austin, Texas.

It’s late in the game for Kirkland

Kirkland’s problems during his career is a mix of things. He’s not been busy enough, and his punch resistance never measured up to his offensive potential. He was knocked out by Canelo and Nobuhiro Ishida. He was also hurt by a number of different fighters during his 18-year pro career, which began in 2001. Kirkland’s best wins have come against these fighters:

  • Alfredo Angulo
  • Billy Lyell
  • Brian Vera
  • Glen Tapia
  • Carlos Molina
  • Joel Julio

Kirkland’s exciting war against Angulo in November 2011 saw both guys hit the deck in round one. Kirkland climbed up off the canvas, and went after the heavy-handed Angulo. In round 6, Kirkland knocked him out.

Two wins followed for Kirkland against Carlos Molina and Glen Tapia. However, after the victory over Tapia in 2013, Kirkland was inactive for two years before coming back in a disappointing loss to Canelo Alvarez in 2015.  From there, Kirkland stayed out of the ring for 4 years until returning recently in 2019 against Colby Courter.

At Kirkland’s age, he’s not expected to do anything spectacular. He’s too old now, and he likely would fall apart if he fought a halfway decent contender at middleweight. It would have been interesting to see what Kirkland could do against the elite level middleweights if his punch resistance and stamina were up to par, but they’re not.


An interesting fight right now would be to see Kirkland and Angulo fight a rematch. The 37-year-old Angulo (26-7, 21 KOs) is coming off of a big 10 round split decision win over Peter Quillin last September. Angulo has won his last two fights since losing to Freddy Hernandez and Sergio Mora. Although slower, Angulo still has heavy hands, and he would make for an interesting fight against Kirkland.

Kirkland undercard action

On the Kirkland vs. Phipps undercard on November 9, World Boxing Council USNBC silver middleweight champion Eddie Ortiz (9-0-2, 4 KOs) will be facing Alexis Camacho (22-6, 20 KOs).


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