Timothy Bradley and Devon Alexander have each won two major sanctioning organization belts, but the undefeated junior welterweight standouts, who meet in a highly anticipated showdown on Jan. 29, will have to wait for the opportunity to add THE RING title to their collection.
The possibility existed that the magazine’s vacant junior welterweight title would be up for grabs for the winner of Bradley-Alexander, which takes place in Pontiac, Mich., and will be televised live on HBO (in the U.S.).
Bradley (26-0, 11 knockouts), who defeated Junior Witter and Kendall Holt for alphabet belts, is THE RING’s No. 1-rated junior welterweight. Alexander (21-0, 13 KOs), who defeated Witter and Juan Urango for alphabet titles, is the magazine’s No. 3-rated 140-pound contender.
RING championship vacancies are normally filled by a box-off between the magazine’s No. 1 and No. 2 contenders. However, in certain instances, such as if the No. 2 contender is unavailable, a box-off between the No. 1 and No. 3 contender can fill the vacancy.
Amir Khan, THE RING’s No. 2-rated junior welterweight, is available, and indeed, there has been talk of the talented UK star facing the Bradley-Alexander winner later in the year. For that reason, the magazine’s editorial board, with the participation of its Ratings Panel, decided not to put THE RING title on the line for the Bradley-Alexander winner.
“After much deliberation, THE RING has decided not to recognize the Timothy Bradley-Devon Alexander bout for the vacant RING junior welterweight championship,” said Nigel Collins, Editor-in-Chief of THE RING magazine. “We began discussing whether or not we should recognize the No. 1 contender (Bradley) against No. 3 (Alexander) soon after the Bradley-Alexander fight was announced. We decided to wait until after the Amir Khan-Marcos Maidana fight (on Dec. 11) to make a final decision, as Khan was No. 2.
“Khan’s performance against Maidna, in one of 2010’s best fights, only served to reinforce his status as No. 2 at 140 pounds. Therefore, we decided to wait until the Bradley-Alexander winner fights Khan before awarding THE RING belt, which has been vacant since Manny Pacquiao voluntarily relinquished the title when he moved up to welterweight.”
Some fans will undoubtedly be upset by the editorial board’s decision. Those fans likely believe that Alexander, who is coming off a unanimous decision over former beltholder Andreas Kotelnik, is just as deserving of THE RING’s No. 2 ranking as Khan.
Of course, Khan supporters can point out that apart from victories over RING-rated contenders Maidana and Paul Malignaggi, their man dominated Kotelnik to a title-winning unanimous decision in July of 2009. Alexander struggled during his fight with Kotelnik, which took place in his hometown of St. Louis last August, and his decision victory was controversial.
THE RING’s editorial board can see merits to both arguments but believes that a prudent approach to filling championship vacancies makes the most sense.
“Since THE RING launched it new championship policy in 2002, we have generally taken a conservative course when filling vacancies,” said Collins. “No. 1 versus No. 2 is still the best way to go. The most recent instance when we recognized a bout between No. 1 and No. 3 for a vacant title was when Wladimir Klitscho, who was No. 1. fought Ruslan Chagaev, then No. 3, in 2009. The reasoning was that Wladimir would never fight No. 2 because it was his brother, Vitali.”