Randall Bailey believes he has the tools necessary to knock Mike Jones out tomorrow night in Las Vegas.
Quite literally, in fact.
The welterweight contender, known unassumingly as “The Knockout King,” was given a welcome surprise on Thursday when Jones selected 8 oz. gloves instead of the more cushiony 10 oz. versions for their vacant IBF title fight on the undercard of the Manny Pacquiao-Timothy Bradley pay-per-view clash. As a fearsome puncher, Bailey predictably asked for 8 oz. gloves, but if Jones has disagreed, the default ruling would have been to use the heavier gloves.
Instead, Bailey says, Jones put himself in the danger zone.
“All I can say is thank you,” joked Bailey, who has used 8 oz. gloves for all of his welterweight appearances. “He ain’t introducing me to anything I’m not used to.”
While it may seem minute, and could turn out to be completely trivial, it is the first small break the 37-year old has received in quite some time. Since picking up a pair of welterweight trinkets more than a decade ago, Bailey has essentially remained in title contention ever since. Recently though, he fell into the sanctioning body carousel that has kept him waiting for his next big chance.
Early in 2010, Bailey (42-7, 36 knockouts) flattened Jackson Bonsu in the first round of an IBF eliminator in Belgium. But then, he was back in another eliminator in the same arena eight months later against Said Quali. The night ended abruptly in the second round as Quali took a pro-wrestling style tumble over the top rope after a rather aggressive clinch in the corner, rendering the bout a no-contest.
Since he had sent Quali to the canvas prior to the melee, it was expected to be enough to land him a shot at then-IBF titlist Jan Zaveck. That spot was instead given to Andre Berto. Bailey stepped aside for Berto, as the two share the same promoter in Lou DiBella, with the expectation that he would fight the winner. Berto defeated Zaveck, while Bailey cruised to a unanimous decision over Yoryi Estrella that night in Biloxi, Miss.
Then nothing happened.
The Berto-Bailey fight was allegedly on the table, but HBO reportedly didn’t have interest in airing it, and the issue was never broached again.
“I think it was Berto. At the end of the day, he’s a man, and he’s got a mouth. He can stand up and say this man did a favor for me. I even spoke to him after the (Zaveck) fight and said I did this favor for you, now you owe me. He said we can sit down and talk about it, but I knew it was all smoke screens, so I’m not even worried about it,” said Bailey, of Opa-Locka, Fla.
The idea of being dangerous and avoided is not entirely unfamiliar to his opponent on Saturday, either. Jones (26-0, 19 KOs) is a freakishly tall 147-pounder whose frame alone can present a nightmarish matchup for plenty of foes. That, combined with the fact that he is not wholly promoted by a huge outfit, has arguably slowed his progress through the ranks as well.
“I’m looking for him to try to outbox me, but he has no idea what type of boxer I am,” said the 5-foot-9 Bailey, unphased by his foe’s four-inch height advantage. “I choose to come forward because I can. But if I had to rely on boxing, I do know how to box, and he’s gonna find that out. And he’s gonna have to stand up sooner or later, and that’s when the fight’s gonna start.”
In recent affairs, Jones has shown an affinity for abandoning his height and mixing it up, particularly against Jesus Soto Karass, and to a lesser extent, last December against Sebastian Lujan.
If he enacts the same game plan this time around, it could be his second gift to Bailey this week.
“I wasn’t impressed at all with the Lujan fight. If that’s what he calls sitting down and brawling, then we’re on two different levels,” said Bailey with a laugh.
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Photo/Chris Farina – Top Rank