Manager: James Kirkland to return in '11

11/11/2010 - Boxing

Junior middleweight James Kirkland was transferred from an Austin, Texas-area jail Tuesday after spending the past week there on a probation violation, co-manager Cameron Dunkin told ESPN.com.

He was moved to a drug-rehabilitation center in Austin, according to police at the Bastrop County Jail.

It was the second time in the past couple of months Kirkland was incarcerated. The 26-year-old with a powerful punch was released from a federal prison near his hometown of Austin into a halfway house on Sept. 30 after serving 17 months after pleading guilty to gun possession by a convicted felon.

According to Dunkin, when Kirkland's probation officer paid an unannounced visit to the Austin gym where he was training, Kirkland was not there when he was supposed to be. According to Dunkin, Kirkland had left the gym briefly to see a dentist, who was fitting him for a custom-made mouthpiece.

The infraction put Kirkland back in jail briefly.

"He's out now and he's training again and he's doing fine," Dunkin said. "He has to watch everything he does and says from now on."

Kirkland (25-0, 22 KOs), regarded as one of the top 154-pound contenders before he went to prison, had been training for a comeback fight against Delray Raines on Dec. 11 on the Amir Khan-Marcos Maidana undercard in Las Vegas.

However, Dunkin said he and co-manager Michael Miller have pulled Kirkland off the card, and that he will instead make his return in early 2011.

"He'll be back sometime early next year, but I don't know when," Dunkin said. "We have to get with Golden Boy and work it out. We all want what's best for James."

Dunkin said they decided to call off the return fight instead of rushing things in addition to the fact that he had missed valuable training time while he was back in jail.

"We want to make sure he's completely together and we don't want to rush him," Dunkin said. "We want to sit down and get a schedule set up for him based on Golden Boy's schedule. We want to figure out exactly where we want to fight him and see which leads him to a major television fight as soon as possible, but also do it as smartly as possible.

"So he's not going on Dec. 11. The training wasn't coming around the way it should. We thought we were rushing it. The incident also didn't help. We lost a week of training and seemed like too many things were being rushed and going 100 miles per hour. Michael and me talked, and we said we're rushing him. I'm in no rush for any of my fighters. The money for James Kirkland will be there and all that good stuff, but when we get there, he needs to be ready for it."

Dan Rafael covers boxing for ESPN.com.