Monday, March 2, 2009

HBO BAD Preview: James Kirkland vs Joel Julio, plus Ortiz-Arnaoutis & Guerrero-Yordan

Michael Nelson breaks down this Saturday's HBO BAD triple-header.

HBO is on a roll.

Coming off the unforgettable nine round war between Juan Manuel Marquez and Juan Diaz, and the gutsy efforts of Chris John and Rocky Juarez in the preceding bout, HBO is treating boxing fans to a meaty triple-header on Boxing After Dark this Saturday Night when Robert Guerrero (23-1) takes on Indonesia’s Daud Cino Yordan (23-0), upstart Victor Ortiz (23-1) steps up against Mike Arnaoutis (21-2), and KO artist James Kirkland (pictured right, 24-0) looks to slug it out with Joel Julio (34-2).

Photos © Ray Kasprowicz

Robert Guerrero wants to properly introduce himself to the Jr. Lightweight division after spending the first seven years of his career at Featherweight. He dipped his toe in the water in January when he knocked out the over-matched Edel Ruiz within one round using his patented left hand to the solar plexus. Now, fighting more serious opposition, he’ll have to jump in the pool.

How deep the waters will be is a bit unknown, as footage of 21 year old Daud Cino Yordan is scarce. Recently signed to Golden Boy, Yordan is described by Indonesian press as an aggressive fighter with rocks in his gloves. Expect the young man to come fully prepared; he has been in camp for two months and he has already been in the US for a week to get acclimated to the unfamiliar environment.

Guerrero, for his part, has been chipping away at the perception that he’s an inconsistent fighter. Since his porous performance against Orlando Salido in late 2006, he has been utilizing his boxing skills more by keeping his opponents on the end of his punches. As a result, he’s on an impressive four fight knockout streak.

If Yordan is as hungry as he says he is, the opener should be a heated one.

Vivian Harris was originally penciled in to face Victor Ortiz (pictured left making short work of Jeffrey Resto) in the second bout of the evening. Vivian, now on the downturn of his career, wouldn’t have brought much to the card except the fading perception that he’s a dangerous puncher. Negotiations fell through and the more steady and talented southpaw Mike Arnaoutis stepped up in his place.

Arnaoutis’ physical talents should give Ortiz the stiffest test of his young career. He has some of the faster hands in the 140 pound division to go along with solid technique and a more than respectable punch. If Ortiz gets too eager, he can quickly find himself on his backside.

What Arnaoutis appears to lack is a mean streak. When he decked Ricardo Torres in a fight he lost controversially, instead of immediately ripping into him to finish the job, he touched his glove. Apparently, he wanted to congratulate him on getting up.

Then, against Kendall Holt, he froze, intimidated by the prospect of facing a man with more hand speed and an equal amount of power. Frustrated Mighty Mike fans watched as their man let round after round slip away attempting to outbox a superior boxer with an iffy set of whiskers. Instead of making a concerted effort in tapping Holt’s chin, he dropped a lopsided decision.

In stark contrast, 22 year old Victor Ortiz has never been mistaken as a tea-and-crumpets type of guy once the bell rings. He has knocked out his last seven opponents, often in brutal fashion. The durable Emmanuel Clottey was the only man to escape the 5th round in a fight where young Ortiz showed maturity and poise in breaking down his more experienced foe en route to a 10th round stoppage.

The questions that immediately stand out are whether or not Ortiz can hurt or knock out Arnaoutis, in addition to whether or not he can take Mike’s punch without wavering.

If he does waver, let’s hope that Arnaoutis doesn’t give him dap for not keeling over.

The main event of the night has had hardcore boxing fans buzzing since it was announced. Joel Julio is an aggressive heavy handed fighter with a leaky defense. James Kirkland (pictured below-right against Brian Vera) is an aggressive heavy handed fighter with a leaky defense. This fight will be very violent, and possibly very short.

Most would agree that Kirkland has the more dynamic offensive arsenal to go along with his advantage of being a southpaw. Mixing in a devastating right hook, as well as a strong short left hand and a nasty uppercut, he swarms his opponents and overwhelms them, knocking out 15 of the last 16.

What makes this fight so intriguing is that he’s also reckless and easy to hit flush. He has gotten away with it against fighters with less durability, experience, and power than Julio. But his propensity to run into straight right hands may teach him a hard lesson against a man who throws them with the velocity of the Columbian banger.

Joel Julio has vulnerabilities that Kirkland can expose as well. He has lost decisively to the two skilled southpaws he has faced in Carlos Quintana and Sergiy Dzinziruk. A key reason for his issues with lefties is that his footwork is lacking; he constantly finds himself off balance and open for a counter right hook. Against a right hook as strong as Kirkland’s, falling out of position is an error that can leave him face first on the canvas.

The critical difference between those two southpaws and James Kirkland is that Kirkland is nowhere near as slippery and hard to find. Make no mistake, blows with knockout intentions are going to be landed in every round, and the results are likely to be quick and conclusive.

Keep your bathroom breaks short.

e-mail Michael Nelson


Andy said...

It should be a fun card. I can't wait for Kirkland/Julio. Bombs away!

GG said...

I'm trying to be there live. Should be a great night of action.