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Golden Boy signs Kirkland despite lawsuit from Shaw

Junior middleweight prospect James Kirkland, one of boxing's most fearsome punchers, signed Wednesday with Golden Boy Promotions despite litigation from former promoter Gary Shaw, who claims he still has Kirkland's promotional rights.

"James Kirkland is one of boxing's hottest young stars and we are very excited to work with him," Golden Boy president Oscar De La Hoya said in a statement. "I am confident that he will contend for a world title in the very near future."

De La Hoya didn't address the legal wrangling that has been ongoing since Kirkland (23-0, 20 KOs) and co-managers Cameron Dunkin and Michael Miller split with Shaw during the summer.

Shaw said he previously sued the managers and was prepared to sue Golden Boy as well as HBO if the network televises Kirkland's next bout.

Golden Boy and HBO are making plans for Kirkland to face former welterweight title challenger Danny Perez on Nov. 22 in the televised co-feature on the Ricky Hatton-Paulie Malignaggi card at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. However, HBO won't committ to the bout until its legal department signs off.

"I am in court on a contractual dispute over Kirkland," Shaw told ESPN.com. "I put both HBO and Golden Boy on notice. I will file suit against Golden Boy. I already have a suit against the management."

Shaw said he was disappointed that Golden Boy would make a move on his fighter before the lawsuit had run its course.

"For Golden Boy to try to be holier than thou and talk about saving boxing and doing the right thing for boxing, then they should have stood back and let the lawsuit play out," he said. "If I lose the lawsuit, then they can go and sign Kirkland. But they're so used to raiding talent and hiding behind Oscar's pretty smile. They did it to me with Diego Corrales, trying to sign him when I had a valid contract, and I won that one. They tried to sign Manny Pacquiao with a suitcase of cash in the back of a limo.

"I know Kirkland went to other promoters to talk about signing with them and to the credit of those other promoters, they said, 'We're not interested in getting into another legal dispute.'"

Dunkin said he wasn't worried about Shaw's legal maneuvering and was happy to sign Kirkland with Golden Boy, a company he's never previously done business with. Most of Dunkin's numerous fighters are with Top Rank, which had interest in Kirkland. A few of Dunkin's fighters, including Kirkland and flyweight titlist Nonito Donaire, had been with Shaw until their falling out earlier this year.

"It's Gary's choice if he wants to sue," Dunkin said. "He can do whatever he wants. It's no shock. But we're happy with Golden Boy. Michael Miller had a relationship with Golden Boy through [retired former titleholder] James Leija. We spoke to other promoters, but when it came down to it, Golden Boy seemed more excited about James and they were willing to do more for him and they felt like the more comfortable place."

Kirkland, 24, who is trained by former women's champion Ann Wolfe, burst on the scene with a string of impressive performance on Shaw's "ShoBox" cards on Showtime before blowing away Eromosele Albert in one round in his May HBO debut, his final bout before cutting ties with Shaw.

In his last fight, Kirkland headlined the season finale of ESPN2's "Friday Night Fights" on Sept. 6 in his hometown of Austin, Texas, and knocked out Ricardo Cortes in the second round.

"I'm ready to fight the best fighters at 154 pounds," Kirkland said. "I know that Golden Boy Promotions and Oscar De La Hoya will get me these great fights. I want to showcase my talent to the boxing world on all the big television networks. I want to thank Golden Boy Promotions for giving me the opportunity to work with a boxing promoter that has the best fighters in the world, like Oscar De La Hoya, Bernard Hopkins, Sugar Shane Mosley, Juan Manuel Marquez, Ricky Hatton and many others."