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James Kirkland's Next Fight: Dunkin Wants Carlos Molina, But Sergio and Lara Also Mentioned

Scott Christ is the managing editor of Bad Left Hook and has been covering boxing for SB Nation since 2006.

Coming off of a head-turning win over Alfredo Angulo on November 5 in Cancun, James Kirkland's team is hoping to line up a tough fight with another contender: Carlos Molina. From Cameron Dunkin, Kirkland's manager, via Ryan Maquiñana:

"The fight makes sense.  Molina’s a good fighter.  He beat Cintron, [and] should have beaten Lara.  We’d like that fight next."

Dunkin also says that middleweight world champion Sergio Martinez and Erislandy Lara have had their names come up. Lara, like Molina, is currently in a position where his phone isn't ringing. Back in March on Friday Night Fights, Molina returned from a two-year absence from the ring to push Lara to a 10-round draw in a fight Lara was favored to win, and many felt Molina deserved the duke that night. At the time, it was thought to be a bit of an "exposing of" the Cuban standout.

But four months later, on the same night, Molina (19-4-2, 6 KO) and Lara (15-1-1, 10 KO) really made their marks. Lara was robbed blind in New Jersey after delivering a consistent beating to Paul Williams on HBO, while Molina easily routed Kermit Cintron in California, an upset that viewers were able to see live on Showtime.

Here we are in November, and neither of them have fought since July 9. Cintron, though, is getting a shot at WBC junior middleweight titlist Saul "Canelo" Alvarez on November 26. That's boxing for you.

Either would be a fine opponent for Kirkland (30-1, 27 KO), but I sense that Dunkin would prefer Molina for a few reasons:

  1. He's a come-forward, aggressive guy, while Lara is not. Lara is at his best picking apart his opponents. Molina likes to be in the pocket, throwing.
  2. In addition to that, Molina really can't punch. Lara's no thunderous bruiser himself, but Molina really has no zip on the old fastball. He overwhelms with volume and crafty in-fighting.
  3. Lara is a southpaw.

As for the Sergio Martinez idea, I kind of feel like that benefits Martinez, who could use a hot opponent right now, more than it does Kirkland, who would be getting a shot to be middleweight champion, sure, but in a fight where he'd really be a big underdog. Sergio is also a southpaw, and is slicker, faster, and a harder hitter than Lara. If Dunkin doesn't like a Lara fight, I can't imagine he'd like a Martinez fight. James Kirkland will have a lot of time to make money in boxing, win or lose, if he can keep his head on outside of the ring. No reason to rush him in there with Sergio Martinez and risk an immediate step back. Maybe in a year, if it really makes sense, but not just yet.

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