So, what are the Cotto vs Kirkland odds?
There are no surprises as they are what most would expect.
As of January 2, Miguel Cotto is a 5 to 1 favorite, according to Paddy Power and betfair. Kirkland is a 10 to 3 underdog with both bookies.
But doubts linger about Cotto vs Kirkland as both fighters will be coming off loses to Canelo Alvarez, and Miguel has openly stated 2017 will be his final year in boxing.
Will Miguel get old over night?
Does Cotto still have the hunger to compete at this level?
And will Kirkland's reunion with long-time trainer Ann Wolf take the Texan to another level? Their relationship is an odd one but she, for whatever reason, tends to bring out the best in James.
Win or lose, Miguel Cotto is still a first ballot hall of famer. On the other side, this bout could serve as James' final opportunity on boxing's big stage should he lose... And Team Kirkland is, or at least should be, well aware of that.
Who remembers when Fernando Vargas, the A-side and favorite, was upset by Ricardo Mayorga in what was supposed to be a relatively safe late-career bout? That bout, of course, set Mayorga up a high-stakes showdown with Cotto.
Kirkland's chances shouldn't be dismissed for several reasons, including his perceived hunger entering the bout and his punching power.
Who remembers when Kirkland came back from the brink of destruction to stop Angulo in Fall 2011 in what became a 'Fight of the Year' candidate. Round 1 was Hagler vs Hearns-esque... It was that good.
Cotto is the strong favorite but James is not an opponent anyone should take lightly.
And If there's anyone ripe for an upset right now it's Miguel Cotto. He's reached boxing's pinnacle and appears to have 'one foot out of the door.'
At 32-2 with 28 knockouts, Kirkland boasts an 82 percent knockouts-to-fights ratio, joining Gennady Golovkin and Deontay Wilder as one of the few active big name fighters with a KO percentage above 80 percent. And while James hasn't shown the polish of Golovkin and Wilder, his punching power, pound-for-pound, is certainly comparable.
Heavy-handed underdogs like James are always one punch away from upsetting more poised, more accomplished foes, even when far behind in the fight.