The manager of former WBC/IBF junior welterweight titleholder Devon Alexander told RingTV.com that the 24-year-old southpaw will rise into the welterweight ranks in the fall, this after entertaining entreaties from other promoters as a free agent.
"The last few fights, Devon has struggled to make 140 (pounds, the junior welterweight limit). We were tearing down muscle to get to 140," said Cunningham of Alexander (22-1, 13 knockouts), a resident of St. Louis, Mo.
"So at some point during the fight, he's more or less fighting against himself because you're killing the body to make the weight,” Cunningham continued. “So it's time to move up to welterweight and go to 147. We're looking forward to going to 147 and trying to make the big fights at welterweight."
Although Alexander has been promoted by Don King, Cunningham said that their contract has expired, adding that he plans to wait until August before broaching the fighters' options with other promoters.
"We're not in any kind of situation where anybody has any kind of options on us. We're free and clear to do business with whoever we chose to do business with," said Cunningham. "We're pretty much taking a vacation and then we'll probably get into some serious talks sometime in August. So we're waiting to see what the options are and what the best direction is to go in. We haven't been in any talks with anybody as of yet."
King could not be reached for comment. But Top Rank CEO Bob Arum and Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer have each expressed interest in promoting Alexander.
"I think that he's a very talented fighter. I have met him a couple of times at some of our fights," said Schaefer, who promotes WBA and IBF junior welterweight beltholder Amir Khan (26-1, 18 KOs) of England.
"Devon Alexander is a very polite and nice young man outside of the ring and he comes across very well. So he's definitely a fighter which we would be interested in."
A popular attraction in his native St. Louis, Alexander's bouts routinely pack local arenas in his hometown.
"I think that he's highly marketable and he has a built-in fan base. Very few fighters can sell the amount of tickets that Devon Alexander can," said Schaefer. "I have not had any conversation with Alexander or his manager, Kevin Cunningham. But I definitely will, over the coming weeks, reach out to them and see if there is an interest in working together."
At his best, Alexander was a brilliant boxer-puncher at 140 pounds.
With those skills, Alexander scored consecutive wins over former beltholders DeMarcus Corley, Junior Witter and Juan Urango. Witter and Urango were stopped for the first time in their respective careers — each in the eighth-round — in August of 2009 and March 2010 for the WBC and IBF belts.
But Alexander soon began to struggle to make the 140-pound limit, a weight at which he had competed since his amateur days.
Instead of being able to move opponents with his power — as he did in dropping Urango — Alexander suddenly appeared to be slapping with his punches.
That seemed the case during Alexander's next fight in August of 2010, a disputed unanimous decision over Ukrainian-born former WBA beltholder Andriy Kotelnik, who, at times out-worked and out-landed Alexander.
"The Kotelnik fight is where he hit a wall in camp. Devon got to like 146.5, and it's like he just hit a wall," said Cunningham. "It had never been like that before. That was the first fight that I realized that Devon had really outgrown 140."
In January, Alexander lost his crown by 11th-round technical decision to WBO and WBC titlist Tim Bradley (27-0, 11 KOs). Alexander rebounded with last month's narrow 10-round decision win over hard-hitting Lucas Matthysse (28-2, 26 KOs).
Now, said Cunningham, it's time to move up to 147 pounds.
"I would like to get back into the ring in late November, early December," said Cunningham. "But we're just waiting on the right situation."
Cunningham said that he would take aim at former titlist Paulie Malignaggi and then perhaps the winner of the Sept. 3 bout between IBF titlist Jan Zaveck and former WBC beltholder Andre Berto.
"If we have to wait until early next year for the fight fight and the right situation, then we'll do that," said Cunningham. "We're taking our time with this situation and putting things into the proper order."