The full card is finalized for the "minor" HBO pay-per-view event on April 9, as an opponent has been named for James Kirkland, as the Texas native continues his comeback.
Kirkland (27-0, 24 KO) will be facing Japanese veteran Nobuhiro Ishida (22-6-2, 7 KO). Ishida is 35 years old, doesn't have much power, and is of no serious danger to Kirkland, but does represent another half-step up the ladder as Kirkland continues to work his way back into shape, and back into contention at 154 pounds.
Ishida last fought in October, losing a split decision to Rigoberto Alvarez in Mexico. He's a former OPBF and Japanese junior middleweight champ, and held an interim alphabet belt that he lost to Alvarez. That fight was his first outside of Japan, and the bout with Kirkland will be his first on American soil.
Kirkland, 27, returned from a prison stint earlier this month, beating Ahsandi Gibbs (KO-1) on the Saul Alvarez-Matthew Hatton undercard on March 5, and was back in the ring on March 18 on Solo Boxeo Tecate, beating Jhon Berrio (KO-2). He weighed in for those fights north of 160 pounds and did look noticeably soft, but that's to be expected given where he's at right now. The good news is he's staying incredibly active and working hard to get back to where he used to be. At this pace, he could be back in competitive fights by late summer or early fall, which would be pretty impressive.
So here's what you have for that April 9 show: Marcos Maidana v. Erik Morales, Robert Guerrero v. Michael Katsidis, James Kirkland v. Nobuhiro Ishida, Paul Malignaggi v. Jose Miguel Cotto, and Danny Garcia v. Nate Campbell. It's one of the strangest mixes of a PPV card in recent memory, as there is a fight that turns me off (Garcia-Campbell), a fight that I mostly just don't care about (Malignaggi-Cotto), a fight I see as unfortunately uncompetitive but significant (Guerrero-Katsidis), the Kirkland deal, and then a main event with two guys I love, but one that might make me want to hide my eyes once the bell rings. And having seen some recent shots of Morales in training, my stance on the main event hasn't changed.