BoxingScene.com's Miguel Rivera reports that the November 5 clash between Alfredo Angulo and James Kirkland will be a WBC junior middleweight title eliminator, meaning that the winner is theoretically in line for a shot against Saul "Canelo" Alvarez.
Angulo (20-1, 17 KO) and Kirkland (29-1, 26 KO) are meeting in Cancun, with HBO televising the brawl. Both are exciting action fighters with plenty of power who don't like taking steps back, and both are currently rebuilding careers where a lot of time has recently been lost. Kirkland lost two years of his career to a prison stint, and was also shocked this year in an upset TKO-1 loss to feather-fisted Nobuhiro Ishida, while Angulo's problems with ex-promoter Gary Shaw and his visa situation cost him a year of his career, too. Angulo currently can't fight in the United States, though Golden Boy is presumably working on changing that for the near future.
Would the winner really get a shot next against Alvarez? It's unlikely, but not impossible.
A lot will depend on what GBP's matchmakers see from Angulo or Kirkland here. Alvarez (38-0-1, 28 KO) is going to be fighting on November 26 against Kermit Cintron, which is a somewhat weak attempt to dispel the notion that Alvarez doesn't fight punchers. Cintron's KO rate is good, but he's shown no power at all in his last two fights, and just doesn't appear to have the thump at 154 that he had at 147. So really, it's a fair criticism still that Golden Boy and Alvarez aren't lining up against anyone with power.
Kirkland and Angulo do have very legitimate power at 154 pounds. Both are highly-flawed fighters, too, and I suspect that if GBP feels Alvarez could take advantage of those flaws, they'd do the fight. Kirkland has a highly suspect chin and a questionable mental game, while Angulo is just plain slow and can be somewhat easily neutralized with a pretty simple approach.
Both would be very dangerous against Alvarez simply because they can bomb and would be dangerous against anyone, but boxing's matchmakers -- the good ones, anyway -- are paid in large part to find fights that accentuate the positives of the fighter who is being more heavily promoted, even if the fight appears risky on paper to most of us. There aren't a ton of fighters in boxing who are looking to take true risks on a regular basis, and there are even less promoters who desire to do so with their name guys. A big part of handling a boxer's career is making sure the right guy wins, whoever the right guy might be, and with Alvarez's star potential, he's being handled carefully.
The move to make the fight an eliminator would also give Golden Boy a certain amount of control over the whole situation, as they promote all of the fighters involved. The winner might bark about fighting Alvarez in early 2012, but GBP will be able to handle that and put it on the back burner for a bit, too.
From a standpoint of whether or not it's deserved, Angulo was in line for a WBC eliminator already, but Kirkland has really done nothing to put himself in line for a title shot in real terms, as long as you're for the moment taking the title really seriously. But it's boxing, so whatever. We all know what the titles are, and sometimes they serve a purpose, and sometimes they don't. I can think of far less deserving guys who have been given title opportunities or eliminators.