An HBO double-header on January 28 at Reliant Arena in Houston is set, according to RingTV.com, and both bouts are as expected. In the main event, Erik Morales will defend his WBC junior welterweight title against Philadelphia's Danny Garcia, and James Kirkland will take on Carlos Molina in the junior middleweight co-feature.
Here's what Richard Schaefer had to say about the fights:
"With Danny Garcia, you have a strong, young guy," said Schaefer, "and with Erik Morales, you have one of the most experienced fighters who has clearly turned back the clock. ... We have seen in his fight against Maidana that Erik Morales is back. For him to take on a young, talented fighter like Danny Garcia is just showing you all that Erik Morales is made of."
... "For James Kirkland, a lot of people thought that he was finished after he lost to Ishida. But we brought him back quickly, had him fight several times, and as you saw in his last performance against Alfredo Angulo, James Kirkland is back," said Schaefer.
"Not only is he back with Ann Wolfe, but he's a big threat in the 154-pound weight class. But with Carlos Molina, he's taking on somebody who is coming off some of his biggest wins of his career in his last few fights."
From where I sit, we're looking at two good fights with four very flawed guys -- and there's not a thing wrong with that, really.
Morales (52-7, 36 KO) is a fan favorite, and deservedly so, and in some ways he deserves all this praise that he's "back." But that's for promoters to pump up, and truth is that Morales is still a very small, rather powerless 140-pound fighter, and he's still a beaten up 35-year-old fighter.
But that's OK, because Erik Morales makes for good fights. His fairly bogus title win over Pablo Cesar Cano on September 17 was a terrific bloody battle against a young and untested but clearly very hungry and determined fighter.
Against Garcia (22-0, 14 KO), he faces someone who comes much closer to top prospect status. The 23-year-old isn't quite a blue chipper in my view, but I admit I've always been a bit harsh on Garcia; he just doesn't do it for me, but his win over Kendall Holt on October 15 got him here, and that was a legit win. Holt was in good shape and fought fine. Garcia just beat him.
It may not be now or never for Danny Garcia, but his time is here. He's getting his shot against a vulnerable, big name titleholder. This is a fight where he can make a mark in boxing.
As for Kirkland vs Molina, we've already talked about that one. I like the fight a lot, even though I strongly favor Kirkland because Molina, while crafty, isn't tricky, and he can't punch. Kirkland isn't going to have to find Molina. He'll be right there.
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But James has two big factors that could work against him: His chin, which just isn't great. Nobuhiro Ishida can't punch, either. And his stamina. Make no mistake, Kirkland was gassed by the time the referee saved Alfredo Angulo from an uglier ending. And James hasn't had to go deep against a guy who still has legs in a long time. Molina has shown an ability to stay active over 10 rounds twice this year, and that came after a two-year layoff. If Molina can survive an early rush from Kirkland, stamina could be a huge factor.
I love the card. And as much as I do tend to pump the brakes on getting overexcited about Morales being "back," it's awesome to see Erik Morales headlining on HBO in 2012. Outside of pay-per-view, Erik Morales hasn't headlined on HBO since his September 2005 upset loss to Zahir Raheem.
Welcome back, "El Terrible."