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Kirkland not going to waste third chance

Steve Cofield
Boxing

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Kirkland

Unbeaten James Kirkland is 27 years old with a ton of knockouts. He's been devastating in boxing yet he's missing one thing. Where's the world title? It's tough to grab a strap when you've spent half of your career behind bars.

You'll get no excuses from Kirkland. He knows he's blown it to this point in his life. Kirkland has run with the wrong people and made stupid mistakes on two occasions, spending nearly four years in prison.

The latest stint was ridiculous. His first jail stay was for a 2003 robbery. The most recent came after he was nailed for possession of a firearm while on probation. There was no slap on wrist. He went to the pen for 17 months and hit a halfway house in September.

On the verge of huge things in the junior middleweight division, Kirkland's arrest and conviction tore him apart.

"Basically, man, your dreams are all shattered," said Kirkland. "You're hurting physically, you're hurting mentally, spiritually. You're all down; everything is just like a sore thumb. Everything about you is just gone.

Kirkland let down a lot of people around him.{ysp:more}

"You lose, not just access to the boxing, you lose access to your family. Your key is your loved ones, people that really care about you, people that have been backing you up for many years, staying behind you and people that wish the best for you. And then you make a dumb and a careless decision."

Kirkland has been fortunate to be able to jump start his boxing career again with two tuneup fights. Time is of the essence, so Kirkland is fighting again this weekend. He faces Nobuhiro Ishida (22-6-2, 7 KOs) on the Marcos Maidana-Erik Morales card (HBO ppv).

Kirkland sounds like most ex-felons who get another chance, saying he's learned his lesson. Only time will tell. If he can keep it together there are some potential mega-fights in the 154 and 160 pound weight classes. Kirkland's style and power would make for great fights against guys like Sergio Martinez, Kelly Pavlik, Paul Williams, Alfredo Angulo, Antonio Margarito, Miguel Cotto, Pawel Wolak and Saul Alvarez.

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