James Kirkland says he just wants to be properly compensated for a fight with Canelo Alvarez. (Photo by Scott Heavey/Getty Images)
Yesterday was an interesting, layered day for the agreed-upon September 15 fight between Canelo Alvarez and James Kirkland, and today, things are at least a little more clear in what has happened.
First, Kirkland bailed on the fight, with his team claiming his shoulder injury was still too big of a factor. This wasn't really surprising, as James just had shoulder surgery, has only now started to work out the arm, and did admit to having shoulder pain in his LIITR interview the night before, even though he'd convinced many he was truly excited to get to fight night.
Then, it was reported that the issue wasn't so much the shoulder as the money involved. Kirkland, supposedly with a new adviser in his ear, wanted to go from under $1 million to face Canelo to $2.5 million. Kirkland now tells The RING that it's not just about the injury or just about the money. It's about both.
"If I'm going to take a fight like this, and I've got one arm, and it takes time to rehabiltate and to train, then pay me for that," said Kirkland. "I would do that, but pay me for it. If my career is over with after this fight, I want to make sure that I don't walk away with nothing."
The demand is being credited to a friend of Kirkland's named Curtis Meeks, and not his attorney/adviser Michael Miller or manager Cameron Dunkin. Schaefer calls the $2.5 million demand "ridiculous," and sounds like he's in a "we don't negotiate with terrorists" sort of mood about this. There won't be any discussion of bringing that figure down some from $2.5M but up from the original offer. Schaefer appears ready to just let Kirkland miss the fight.
In the long run, that may not be the worst thing for James. His team turned down the Canelo fight initially because he wouldn't be 100% in time, instead looking to bring him back in October or November. Between the reports of injury and money yesterday, that was again the plan.
Kirkland does have some position here. Golden Boy needs him to make this fight what they originally wanted it to be. Without him, they'd have to put in Erislandy Lara (a very dangerous step for Canelo) or Cornelius Bundrage (who can't be sold like JK can be sold). But this could all just mean that Golden Boy will have to step back from the PPV idea, put Canelo on regular HBO, and accept that the stars didn't align to take him to his first real headline PPV appearance just yet. There will be plenty to come. One more night on regular old premium cable won't kill anyone.
I do understand both sides here. Kirkland wanted more money to risk fighting with an injury. It wasn't that he'd be healed for $2.5 million. He's not truly holding them up like the Ultimate Warrior at SummerSlam or anything. It's that he was running extra risk here with an iffy shoulder and he wanted to be compensated for the extra risk.
Golden Boy has a right to feel blindsided by the demand, too. They thought they had their man, which came on the heels of losing original opponent Paul Williams. In a way, Kirkland was stepping in to save their show as originally designed. Then he pulled back.
It doesn't look like we'll be seeing Canelo vs Kirkland on September 15. We will see Canelo, one way or another, and I can think of worse things than Canelo vs Bundrage/Quintana/TBA and Gonzalez vs Ponce De Leon on HBO.