Quick Hits: Kirkland close to ring return

James Kirkland is set to take his first fight since serving a 17-month prison sentence. Fightwireimages.com

Junior middleweight James Kirkland will make his ring return Dec. 11 against Delray Raines, and he will do so with a new trainer, co-manager Cameron Dunkin told ESPN.com.

Kirkland has split from longtime trainer Ann Wolfe. He will now train with Richard Lord in Kirkland's hometown of Austin, Texas, Dunkin said.

"Richard is just training him for this fight. They have a one-fight agreement," Dunkin said. "There's no commitment past this fight, but James needed a gym in Austin and a place to train. We needed somebody for one fight, and they know each other. James has sparred at his gym before."

Lord trained former two-division titlist Jesus Chavez. Kirkland was recently released from a Texas prison, where he served 17 months after pleading guilty to gun possession by a convicted felon. His conviction caused a falling out with Wolfe.

Kirkland is currently serving the rest of his sentence in an Austin halfway house, but he is allowed to train. Dunkin said the deal with Arkansas' Raines (18-8-1, 13 KOs) has been agreed to but that the weight has not been determined.

"We left the exact weight out of the contract because we need to see where James is at," Dunkin said.

Kirkland (25-0, 22 KOs) eventually will return to 154, but his first bout back will be somewhere in the 160s, Dunkin said. HBO plans to air highlights of Kirkland's fight, which is on the Amir Khan-Marcos Maidana undercard at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas.

• Light heavyweight titlist Tavoris Cloud (21-0, 18 KOs) broke training camp on Saturday to return home to Tallahassee, Fla., after his wife was involved in an auto accident, trainer Al Bonani told ESPN.com. But Bonani said his fighter was back in camp Thursday -- Cloud's wife is OK and resting at home -- to continue training for a Dec. 17 title defense on a card that promoter Don King is putting together for the American Airlines Arena in Miami. His likely opponent: Otis Griffin. "We have a contract out to him and that's who we expect to be fighting," Bonani said. The other opponent under consideration is Yusaf Mack, who could get the fight if Griffin falls through. Griffin (23-6-2, 9 KOs) has won four in a row after going on a 1-5 skid that included losses to Danny Green, Jeff Lacy and Jesse Brinkley. Heavyweights Odlanier Solis and Ray Austin are expected to meet in the main event in a title elimination bout that will net the winner a mandatory shot at the winner of Saturday's Vitali Klitschko-Shannon Briggs title match.

• Although unified bantamweight titlist Fernando Montiel suffered several bad cuts and bruises and had a bone fragment cleaned out of his right leg following a dirt bike accident on Sunday, Top Rank promoter Bob Arum told ESPN.com that Montiel is expected to be ready to go for a Feb. 19 HBO showdown with pound-for-pound entrant Nonito Donaire. "His leg is not fractured, but he needs three weeks off the leg and then he can go back in the gym," Arum said of Montiel. "It doesn't appear like there will be any problem for February." The accident will keep the fighter from a planned November bout. Arum said Montiel (42-2-2, 33 KOs) would not take an interim bout and just go directly to the fight with Donaire (24-1, 16 KOs), which Arum said he hopes to stage at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas. Donaire first has to win a Dec. 4 fight against Wladimir Sidorenko.

• Knockout artist Randall Bailey (41-7, 36 KOs) will face Las Vegas-based Moroccan Said Ouali (27-3, 19 KOs) in a welterweight title eliminator Dec. 10 in Belgium, Bailey promoter Lou DiBella told ESPN.com. Bailey, a former junior welterweight titlist, went to Belgium in March and scored a first-round knockout of Belgium's Jackson Bonsu. Bailey was such a hit there that interest was shown in staging his next fight in Belgium, DiBella said. The winner of Bailey-Ouali gains a mandatory shot at titleholder Jan Zaveck. DiBella was succinct in handicapping Bailey's chances to win: "We win if Randall lands -- that's the bottom line. Ouali is a good boxer, but if Randall lands, we win."

• DiBella also ran down the lineup for ESPN.com of his super middleweight "ShoBox" tripleheader in Fargo, N.D., on Nov. 5 (Showtime). Prospect Edwin Rodriguez (16-0, 12 KOs) takes a step up in competition when he headlines against James McGirt Jr. (22-2-1, 11 KOs). Also on the telecast, Dyah Davis (18-1, 9 KOs) -- the son of 1976 U.S. Olympic gold medalist Howard Davis Jr. -- meets an opponent to be determined, while highly touted Marcus Johnson (19-0, 14 KOs) faces Kevin Engel (18-3, 15 KOs). The fight will be Johnson's first since April and a subsequent six-month suspension by the Illinois commission for a positive marijuana test after the fight. DiBella said other fighters slated to appear on the undercard include welterweight Antwun Smith, lightweight Mickey Bey Jr. and junior middleweight Ishe Smith.

• Hot Montreal middleweight prospect David Lemieux (23-0, 22 KOs), who returns Oct. 29, has finalized his fight with Hector Camacho Jr. (52-3-1, 28 KOs) at the Bell Centre in Montreal. Camacho has signed for the fight, according to the Lemieux camp. However, so as not to upstage Friday's Lucian Bute-Jesse Brinkley fight (which will be held in the same building), Lemieux-Camacho won't be formally announced until next week. Lemieux, who blew out former title challenger Elvin Ayala in the first round in June, will fight Camacho after recovering from a wrist injury that caused him to call off an Aug. 28 bout.

• Former welterweight titlist Joshua Clottey hasn't fought since losing a lopsided decision to Manny Pacquiao in March, and he hasn't been interested in taking a fight unless it's for major money, Top Rank's Bob Arum said. "Clottey is looking for a fight, but he doesn't want to fight for less than half a million. Maybe you could talk him into fighting for $400,000. He's fat and happy right now because he got a great upside [from the pay-per-view] on the fight with Manny. Every month we send him more money." Arum said Clottey's purse was $1.25 million for the fight but that he's earned way more than that because his upside of $3 per home kicked in at 300,000 buys. Since the fight generated about 700,000 buys, that means Clottey will earn roughly an additional $1.2 million.

• Promoter Gary Shaw has added two prospects to his stable: cruiserweight Lateef Kayode (13-0, 12 KOs) and junior middleweight Julian Williams (2-0, 2 KOs). The 6-foot-2 Kayode, faces Epifanio Mendoza (30-9-1, 26 KOs) on Friday in Miami, Okla., on the untelevised undercard of former light heavyweight champ Antonio Tarver's heavyweight debut against Nagy Aguilera. "Lateef is a hidden gem in the cruiserweight division. He is extremely talented," Shaw said of Kayode, 27, a native of Nigeria living in Los Angeles. "Lateef's work ethic and his desire to be a world champion will carry him to the top. His explosive power is equal to any heavyweight on the scene today. The sky's the limit for him." Shaw isn't the only one who sees promise in Kayode. The fighter is trained by Freddie Roach. Williams, 20, of Philadelphia, was 75-10 as an amateur and is a three-time Philadelphia Golden Gloves champion. Shaw liked what he saw from him when he put on his Oct. 1 fight, in which Williams scored a first-round knockout. "He is the goods. He is 100 percent the goods," Shaw said. "I've worked with a lot of world champions throughout my career and I still enjoy promoting world championship events, but nothing compares to grooming a young professional -- watching him progress and earning his stripes. I suspect Julian will stoke my enthusiasm for boxing for a very long time. He is going to make Philadelphia proud." Shaw compares Williams' fighting style to that of extremely aggressive junior middleweight contender James Kirkland. Shaw's matchmaker, John Beninati, had another comparison: "Julian reminds me of a better version of Andre Berto. He has a more powerful punch." Williams' next two fights are already scheduled: Nov. 9 in Oklahoma City and Dec. 3 in Santa Ynez, Calif.

• Former junior welterweight titlist Kendall Holt's fight with journeyman Octavio Narvaez (7-9-1, 4 KOs) has been canceled. Holt (25-4, 13 KOs) was supposed to face Narvaez in an eight-round welterweight bout Friday night in Miami, Okla., on the untelevised portion of the card headlined by Tarver-Aguilera. Holt was looking to end a two-fight losing streak and return from his sixth-round TKO upset loss to South Africa's Kaizer Mabuza in a February title eliminator. However, according to Holt attorney Pat English, Holt was removed from the show by Al Haymon on Tuesday. English said Holt, who had been talking to a Haymon representative about a management deal with Haymon, did not give a reason. English said he would recommend to Holt that he not sign with Haymon, whose company has been calling the shots on the show, although Gary Shaw is the official promoter.

• Middleweight Peter Manfredo Jr. of Providence, R.I., returns to his home state to fight for the first time in two years on Nov. 12, when he will face Colombia's Jhon Berrio (15-7, 11 KOs) in Lincoln, R.I. Manfredo, a former super middleweight title challenger and former participant on "The Contender," recently signed with promoter Lou DiBella, who made a deal with Jimmy Burchfield, Manfredo's original promoter, to put Manfredo (35-6, 19 KOs) on his regular card at the Twin River Event Center. If Manfredo comes through the fight without any issues, he'll likely return to headline a "Friday Night Fights" (ESPN2) card in January in Key West, Fla.

• Junior flyweight titlist Omar Niño (30-3-2, 12 KOs) of Mexico will make his second defense on Nov. 6 in Merida, Mexico, the hometown of his opponent, Gilberto Keb Baas (33-20-4, 21 KOs). Keb Baas, who has been a regular loser to quality opponents, probably got the fight because he delivered Niño his first loss -- a fifth-round knockout -- in 1998 when Niño was a 14-0 prospect. "I can assure you that this will be a great fight," Niño said. "Inside the ring we are rivals, but outside we are good friends -- and the best fighter will win. I'm a more mature fighter now than I was back then. I know what I want, and in my second time around, I will be a champion for a long time."

• The comeback fight of former junior featherweight and junior lightweight titlist Joan Guzman (30-0-1, 17 KOs), who planned to return as a junior welterweight after well-documented problems making lightweight, is off. Guzman was supposed to face Chris Fernandez on a Telefutura card Nov. 5 in New York. However, Golden Boy pulled the plug on the show because the investor it had lined up to bankroll the show didn't come up with the money by the deadline. Instead, Golden Boy said it is moving the show to Puerto Rico, where junior welterweight Jose Cotto is slated to headline.

• Former three-division champ Erik Morales' comeback will continue. The Mexican star has won two fights in a row since returning from a 2½-year retirement in March. He plans to fight again in December in his hometown of Tijuana. Morales, who stopped Willie Limond in the sixth round on Sept. 11, said he has already begun training for the fight, although he has no opponent yet. "Just as I did in my previous fights, I will be in perfect condition for this fight," Morales said. "I want to put on a great show for my fans in Tijuana this coming December."

• In case you missed it, Jaidon Codrington (20-2, 16 KOs), now an Atlanta police officer, fought for the first time in two years and stopped journeyman Jessie Davis (11-20-1, 8 KOs) in the first round on Saturday in Atlanta. Codrington, of course, is best known for two sick knockout losses: a first-round loss to Allan Green in the 2005 knockout of the year and an eighth-round knockout loss to Sakio Bika in the 2007 finale of "The Contender." Codrington fought a year after the loss to Bika and struggled to a win.


"Abraham has a picture of himself posing as a king at his house. He wears a plastic crown and a feather coat. I find that very strange, and it tells you something about him. He will certainly not be the king after we have met inside the ring. I am going to stuff him like a chicken." -- Carl Froch on Arthur Abraham, whom Froch meets for a vacant super middleweight belt in Helsinki, Finland, on Nov. 27 in Group Stage 3 of Showtime's Super Six World Boxing Classic.

"He claimed to have problems with his back. I think he has even bigger problems with his head. Judging from his dubious comments, it looks as if he has lost his senses. But I will be more than happy to put him back to reality with my fists come Nov. 27." -- former middleweight titlist Arthur Abraham on Froch.