Long before becoming a champion in the boxing ring, former WBC/IBF junior welterweight titleholder Devon Alexander spent his youth navigating the drug and crime infested streets of Hyde Park in an embattled section of St. Louis, Mo.
Alexander is one of 13 children born to Sharon Alexander, who reluctantly allowed her son to begin boxing at age seven under former narcotics detective-turned-coach, Kevin Cunningham. For Alexander, the journey began in an abandoned police station and former shooting range which served as the respite from the streets in which two notorious gangs, The Crips and The Bloods, vied for territory.
Having watched many of the friends from his youth die or become jailed often as a result of drug-related activity, Alexander has found it more than offensive that his name has been linked to performance enhancers.
But that is the case heading into his welterweight clash with Marcos Maidana (31-2, 28 knockouts) on Feb. 25, for which both fighters will supply pre- and post-fight urine samples to be tested for illegal drugs or steroids.
The move was mandated by Tim Lueckenhoff, the executive director of Missouri Office of Athletics, in response to insinuations made by Maidana’s advisor, Sebastian Contursi, regarding “rumors” that Alexander (22-1, 13 KOs) has been using performance enhancing drugs.
Alexander, who turned 25 on Feb. 10, shared his thoughts on the subject during a Wednesday conference call promoting the HBO-teleised matchup with Maidana, which is being billed, “Arch Enemies.”
Devon Alexander on his initial reactions about suspicions that he might be using PEDs:
“Well, when I first heard the news, and when my coach first told me, I laughed. I was like, ‘What? Are you serious?’ You know, my whole career has been clean. You know, no drugs, no nothing. But all of a sudden, there’s accusations of me taking performance enhancing drugs.
“That’s ridiculous. I would take any test. Any test that they would want me to take. I could test every day if they wanted me to test every day. But, it’s just ludicrous that they would even think that or put that out there. So, I’m not really tripping off of it.
“It’s just the point of putting it out there. I don’t mind taking the test. I’ll take the test. I’ll take the test the night of the fight, and before the fight. Three days before the fight, three days after the fight. At the end of the day, you’ve still got to get into the ring and you’ve still got to perform and that’s what I plan to do.”
On the idea that he would take PEDs:
“It does offend me, because, I don’t like to take any drugs. I’m a drug-free type of guy. I can’t really even take Tylenol PMs, which makes you dizzy or woozy. I can’t even take Tylenol, really, because it has a certain type of affect on me or regular Tylenol. My body is such that I don’t want to affect it with beer, alcohol, smoking or drinking or all of that.
So for them to even consider that it’s ridiculous. But, like I said, you can’t let that distract you. You have to go on and handle your business, you know? I’ll take the test. If they want to take the test, we’ll take the test. Other than that, I’ve still got to get into the ring on Feb. 25.”
On his motivation heading into the fight with Maidana:
“Definitely, I was going to make a statement anyway, regardless. But, you know, there are rumors that I didn’t look good in my last few fights against [Andriy] Kotelnk, [Lucas] Matthysse and [Tim] Bradley.
“So, you know, so I was aiming to make a statement in this fight regardless. But, like I said, this is my debut at 147, I’ve got my legs strong and fast, and I’m ready to rock and roll.”
MAIDANA LOOKS TO PICK UP WHERE MATTHYSSE LEFT OFF AGAINST ALEXANDER
Alexander’s last fight was a disputed split-decision over Lucas Matthysse, and the hard-punching Maidana is looking to finish what his countryman started.
“I have no concerns at all. In the ring, there will be only Devon Alexander and myself who fight each other. So I don’t worry at all. I’m going to do my best, and I’m going to do my job in order to knock him out, of course,” said Maidana.
“But if not, I know that I have to win by a wide margin in order to get the decision. Because, sometimes, you have the local decisions and everybody knows that. But I think that the best thing for me is to try and knock him out to put an end to the problem.”
Maidana’s camp had raised concerns about the officials for the bout, which will be refereed by veteran Steve Smoger and judged by Glenn Feldman of Connecticut, Cesar Ramos of Puerto Rico and John Keane of England.
“The main thing is that the Maidana camp wanted neutral officials,” said Lueckenhoff. “In other words, no Missouri officials. So I agreed.”
Contursi said that he is satisfied with the moves made by the Missouri commission.
“Of course, we know that we can beat Devon Alexander,” said Contursi. “We just want to be treated fairly.”
Given that Maidana is facing a slick-boxing southpaw who also has some pop in Alexander, he will have to overcome the troubles he has had against fighters with similar skills.
Maidana was 25-0 when he lost his first bout by split-decision to Andriy Kotelnik in February of 2009, and his other defeat came by unanimous decision against fleet-footed Amir Khan in December of 2010.
“I know that Devon is a very fast fighter, not as fast as Amir Khan, but he’s very fast and a very good boxer. Of course, I’ve trained very, very hard for this fight,” said Maidana.
“I’ve had a great training camp here. I’m strong and I have faith in myself that I’m going to win…I took the fight because I have faith in myself that I can win this fight, that I can beat Devon Alexander in his home back yard, and to demonstrate that I am not scared to fight anyone out there.”
ADRIEN BRONER: ‘FLOYD MAYWEATHER HAS HIS OWN LEGACY, I’M MY OWN MAN’
WBO junior lightweight titleholder Adrien Broner (22-0, 18 KOs), who will defend his belt on the Maidana-Alexander undercard against Eloy Perez (23-0-2, 7 KOs), admits having modeled his fighting and trash-talking style after Floyd Mayweather Jr.
“A lot of people say that me and Floyd fight just alike…Every time Floyd Mayweather performs, it’s an epic night, and I always try to be bigger than the next,” Broner once said during an interview with RingTV.com.
“Floyd is great, and I take a lot from him, and at the end of the day, I want to accomplish what he has accomplished and more. Just watching him makes me want to go out and punish somebody worse than he did.”
But during a conference call promoting his bout with Perez on Wednesday, Broner said he wants to develop his own identity.
“A lot of people say that I am the next Mayweather, but I’m going to clear that up. Floyd Mayweather, he has his own legacy. I’m my own man. So I don’t ride off of other people’s waves. I respect him to the fullest,” said Broner, who is nicknamed, “The Problem.”
“I’ve learned a lot off of just watching him, but I’m going to do what I do, and that’s be Adrien Broner. We’re going to work off that. I look up to him, and I’m trying to do more to get to where he’s at, but I’m going to do what Adrien Broner do.”
Broner’s plans are to do exactly that against Perez.
“I don’t care how strong he is or how hard he hits, he still has to hit me. Power and you’re working on your power, that don’t mean nothing if you can’t hit nothing. That’s just all talk, man, you know? He’s going to have to see me,” said Broner.
“I’m going to be in his face all night. He’s going to try to outwork me and saying that he’s going to be stronger than me. But what can you do, man? I’m ready, and I’m going to make a statement and I’m going to show people why I’m the world champion.”
PEREZ SAYS POWER, MEXICAN HERITAGE WILL SOLVE ‘THE PROBLEM’
Pointing to his upcomign rival’s 10-round unanimous decision over Daniel Ponce De Leon and his eight-round majority decision over Fernando Quintero, Perez claims that Broner’s most difficult bouts have been against fighters of Mexican descent.
“I’m Mexican, and it’s in my blood, and all of Adrien’s problems were against Mexican fighters. And I am Mexican,” said Perez.
“I am going to solve ‘The Problem.’ I’m going to have all of the answers. I just feel like I’m the real champion and I’m not a clown. I’m the people’s champ.”
Perez is coming off his second straight knockout, scored in the sixth round over Ira Terry on Oct. 28. Before that, Perez scored September’s impressive second-round stoppage of Daniel Jimenez.
He says that his improving power will surprise Broner, and, in fact, could give him an edge.
“Earlier in my career, it’s like your trainer says, you’ve got to learn how to box before you learn how to fight. Now, it’s time to fight and to show the world what Eloy’s about and what kind of skills I’ve got. And I will show all of my skills against Adrien Broner. He’s a great fighter, he’s got skills, and he’s fast, but I’m hungry,” said Perez.
“When it comes to the power, it’s always been there. But now it’s time to sit down and go for it. It’s just the way that my body is changing. I’m just getting stronger, better and faster. I’m peaking, and it is my time. The power’s coming and I’m impressed with that. I’m taking that title home with me. I hope Adrien’s polishing it and taking it home with me.”
Perez also took a shot at Broner’s post-fight hair-grooming maneuver, during which he asks his father to brush his hair in the ring prior to the post-fight interview.
“You’re going to have your dad comb your hair on national television? Respect your dad. He’s the one who gave you life. If I asked my dad to comb my hair, he would probably smack me,” said Perez.
“He would be like, ‘Dude!’ But I’m a respectable guy, and I owe my dad my life. But, you know, Adrien Broner, whatever floats his boat, and whatever pumps him up, more power to him if that’s working for him.”
Photos by Mark Buckner, Hogan Photos/Golden Boy Promotions