Former WBC/IBF junior welterweight titleholder Devon Alexander has climbed into the welterweight division and acquired the WBC’s No. 1 spot in the wake of organization’s former titleholder Victor Ortiz losing to Floyd Mayweather Jr. last month.
For Ortiz’s manager, Rolando Arellano, the challenge now is how to get Ortiz back to a title shot, and the question for him is less about ratings and more about clout.
“Someone like Andre Berto has marketing issues, not because he isn’t a good fighter, but because he doesn’t attract the fans that Victor does. Put Victor any place, and wherever there are Mexican fans, Ortiz can put 10,000 people into the arena,” said Arellano.
“Ultimately, we want to fight the best of the best, but I believe that Victor’s status has elevated him beyond Timothy Bradley and Devon Alexander and Andre Berto. Put Devon Alexander in an arena as the main event, and No. 1, will HBO buy the fight, and No. 2, will he fill the arena?”
The answer has been to the affirmative for Alexander, whose drawing power in his native St. Louis is among the reasons he was signed last month by Golden Boy Promotions CEO, Richard Schaefer.
“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 of Alexander, who routinely has packed local arenas in his hometown.
“I think that he’s a very talented fighter. I have met him a couple of times at some of our fights. Devon Alexander is a very polite and nice young man outside of the ring and he comes across very well…I really believe that Devon has a tremendous future at 147.“
It certainly appears that way, even though Alexander’s No. 1 ranking doesn’t necessarily place him any closer to a title shot, according to WBC Secretary General Mauricio Sulaiman..
“Mayweather automatically goes to the championship. For Alexander to compete for the world title as a mandatory, you need to have either a final elimination bout, or, a voting to name you as the specified mandatory,” said Sulaiman.
“We will review the division during the WBC’s convention in December regarding the times of the mandatory. Alexander is a former champion, and he moved up in weight, and basically, he’s the No. 1 contender. But there is no obligation yet. So he’s just rated No. 1.”
Aydin is slated for a rematch with fifth-ranked Ionut Dan Ion on Nov. 19, this, after having won by split-decision over Dan on June of last year. Jones meets sixth-ranked Sebastian Lujan (38-5-2, 24 KOs) on Dec. 3.
That leaves Alexander, seventh-ranked Ed Paredes (27-3-1, 17 KOs) and eighth-rated former IBF junior welterweight titleholder Paulie Malignaggi (29-4, 6 KOs).
Arellano, nevertheless, argues that Ortiz’s drawing ability takes him above “the rankings games” and directly into consideration for a rematch with Mayweather, even though he’s not holding his breath that a return bout will happen.
“I’m really not too concerned whether Victor is ranked No. 1 or No. 5 or No. 7. We want the rematch with Floyd Mayweather,” said Arellano. “But he’s not going to give it to us. His team’s going after Pacquiao, and rightfully so. If I was Floyd Mayweather, I would do the same thing.”
Alexander bounced back from the loss to Bradley with a 10-round decision win over hard-hitting Lucas Matthysse (28-2, 26 KOs) in June, and has expressed interest in Ortiz.
“Victor’s known by the Spanish community and has cross-over appeal, so we’ll use that to basically try to bring him back,” said Arellano. “If the opportunity puts him in a position to go for a title, and Victor Ortiz doesn’t mind playing the politics that go with that, then I’ll go ahead and start to position him against a Devon Alexander.”
Lem Satterfield can be reached at email@example.com