Julio, Kirkland to battle March 7

Updated: January 14, 2009, 1:42 AM ET
By Dan Rafael | ESPN.com

Junior middleweights Joel "Love Child" Julio and James Kirkland both have enormous power in their fists and have scored several highlight-reel knockouts. Now, they'll turn those fists on each other in a potentially action-packed fight matching two of boxing's most exciting young fighters.

Kirkland promoter Golden Boy and Julio co-promoter Main Events came to terms Wednesday for them to meet March 7 at a site to be determined in the main event of an HBO "Boxing After Dark" card.

"It's a dangerous fight," Kirkland manager Cameron Dunkin told ESPN.com. "Julio can really punch. I'm not afraid of his boxing ability as much as I am that he can hit you on the chin and hurt you. But I have a lot of belief in James, who can also really punch. Winning a fight like this will really get him to the next level. I think it's the right kind of fight for him at this stage of his career to find out where he is at."

Julio, 23, the 2005 ESPN.com prospect of the year from Colombia, is coming off a competitive decision loss to 154-pound titleholder Sergei Dzindziruk in Germany on Nov. 1. Julio got the fight after former junior middleweight titleholder Sergio Mora passed on the fight, Golden Boy matchmaker Eric Gomez said.

Even though Kirkland, 24, of Austin, Texas, is older than Julio (34-2, 31 KOs), he isn't nearly as experienced against the caliber of fighters Julio has faced. But Kirkland (24-0, 21 KOs) is an explosive puncher coming off an eighth-round destruction of former "Contender" participant Brian Vera on Nov. 22 on HBO.

"It's a hell of a fight," said Gomez, who was finalizing the paperwork. "We know we are taking a big risk with Kirkland, but we have to make good fights. If our guys want to be on HBO, they have to fight tough fights."

Also set for the televised undercard: Junior welterweight Victor Ortiz, the 2008 ESPN.com prospect of the year, will take on former titleholder Vivian Harris in a crossroads bout.

"We have agreed to the terms, but I am waiting for the paperwork. But the fight is on," Harris promoter Gary Shaw said. "For Vivian, if he wants to continue the quest, he has to beat Victor Ortiz or there may not be a tomorrow. For Ortiz, it will be a major notch on his belt to beat somebody like Vivian Harris."

Ortiz (23-1-1, 18 KOs), 21, is one of the fastest rising talents in boxing. Given the prime co-featured slot on the Dec. 6 Manny Pacquiao-Oscar De La Hoya undercard, Ortiz overwhelmed Jeff Resto for a second-round knockout in his closing argument for prospect of the year honors.

Harris (29-3-1, 19 KOs), 30, lost his 140-pound title in September 2007 when he was brutally knocked out in the seventh round by Junior Witter in England. Harris won his only fight since, a sixth-round knockout of Octavio Narvaez in October. However, Harris had a very tough time in the bout, suffering two hard knockdowns in the first round.

Golden Boy is also in talks with HBO about expanding the card into a tripleheader to include former two-time featherweight titleholder Robert Guerrero, 25, who recently signed with Golden Boy after winning an arbitration case against his former promoter. Guerrero first returns to action to face Edel Ruiz after an 11-month layoff on Jan. 24 on the Antonio Margarito-Shane Mosley undercard in Los Angeles.

Guerrero (22-1-1, 15 KOs), now campaigning as a junior lightweight, is from the San Jose, Calif., area, where Golden Boy would like to put the show, Gomez said.

Dan Rafael covers boxing for ESPN.com.