During an earlier discussion of a potential bout featuring his former IBF and WBC junior welterweight titleholder Devon Alexander and Newly-crowned IBF welterweight beltholder Randall Bailey, trainer Kevin Cunningham wondered if Bailey would eventually try to avoid Alexander’s challenge.
“Devon has responded with ‘let’s do it,’” said Cunningham, in response to Bailey’s having called out Alexander. “So I hope that Bailey doesn’t do the moonwalk like Michael Jackson and start backing up out of the fight.”
But Bailey (43-7, 37 knockouts) says that if he does, in fact, face Alexander (23-1, 13 KOs) in a proposed Showtime-televised bout at a venue to be determined on Sept. 8, the 37-year-old titlewinner has no intentions of dancing.
“Earlier in my career, people wanted to see you move around the ring and see rounds, and when I was knocking people out, I was given the impression that it wasn’t good enough. Now everybody wants to see knockouts, and I’m able to produce that. So people should be embracing my style,” said Bailey, adding that he was in agreement to meet Alexander “a couple of weeks ago.”
“I think that this is a very, very winnable fight for me, and I’m not really worried about it to tell you the truth, you know what I’m saying? So once we get everything signed and sealed and everything, I can begin my preparation and we can go from there. But I still haven’t gotten a contract, so that’s still up in the air. But once it’s on, I’m definitely going into it thinking I should be able to knock Devon out.”
“We still have to finalize a few loose ends, but it’s definitely the fight that we want to do,” Schaefer. “It is correct that Lou and I have agreed on the deal, and so everything looks good.”
“I’m still waiting for the contracts from Golden Boy, but it looks like it’s basically a done deal for Sept. 8,” said DiBella. “I’ve got to get a contract from them, but Bailey has agreed to the fight.”
Although Bailey’s manager, Si Stern, confirmed that no contract has been signed, he also acknowledged that Alexander is a major consideration.
“There has been discussions,” said Stern. “But nothing final has been done.”
Cunningham said Alexander welcomes the matchup.
“You have a boxer-puncher in Devon and a one-punch knockout artist in Randall Bailey. I don’t think that Randall Bailey gets enough credit for being one of the biggest punchers that the welterweight division has seen in a long time. The welterweight division hasn’t seen a one-punch knockout artist like Randall Bailey since the likes of Thomas Hearns,” said Cunningham.
“But Devon is one of the most talented fighters out there, skill-wise, and he’s a bigger puncher than people give him credit for. It’s a really interesting and exciting fight. We’re excited about the opportunity and excited about the chance to become a three-time world champion.”
BAILEY’S WINNING HISTORY IS ONE OF KNOCKOUTS
Bailey is coming off of a come-from-behind, 11th-round knockout of Philadelphia’s previously unbeaten Mike Jones on June 9 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas that took place on the undercard of a split-decision victory by Tim Bradley which dethroned Manny Pacquiao as WBO welterweight beltholder.
Against Jones (26-1, 19 KOs), Bailey won his fourth straight bout, and his second by knockout during that time, having last suffered defeat by 11th-round stoppage against Juan Urango in a failed bid to earn the IBF’s junior welterweight belt in August of 2009.
In his next fight in March of 2010, Urango was dethroned by eighth-round knockout against Alexander, who laughs at Bailey’s assertion that he already had taken the heart out of Urango before Alexander did.
“That’s really funny to me. I mean, that’s the opposite. How can he say that when he got knocked out and got stopped by Urango. But that’s what he’s saying, that he softened him up for me?” said Alexander, laughing.
“Well I don’t see how he can say that when he knocked you out. But if he says that’s what happened, oh well. But I got in there and took care of business and got Urango out of there, which is something that he couldn’t do.”
Known for his powerful, lights-out right hand, Bailey landed two of those punches against Jones. Bailey dropped Jones once in the 10th and again in the 11th of a clash Jones had been dominating up to that point.
Jones led by 99-91, 98-92, and, 97-93 on the judges’ cards prior to being dropped for good with 10 seconds left in the final round.
“That last punch he hit Mike Jones with was devastating. His power is explosive. The thing is that the probability of how Randall is going to win a fight is always by knockout. So the merits of the fight with Devon Alexander are that if Randall hits you on the chin, you’ve been knocked out,” said DiBella.
“Against the young guys, like the Mike Jones and the Devon Alexanders, the likelihood is that Randall is going to be behind on points during the fight. These guys move a lot and they’re more cautious, but all Randall has to do is to land that one punch.”
In victory, Bailey earned the IBF’s vacant belt. He won his first title via a first-round knockout of Carlos Gonzalez to win the WBO’s junior welterweight crown in May of 1999. His record at the time was 18-0, all by stoppage.
The win over Gonzalez marked Bailey’s 13th first-round knockout, after which he defended twice to improve to 20-0, all by knockout, before losing the title to Ener Julio by split-decision in July of 2000.
Bailey went to 24-1 with 24 knockouts after earning the WBA’s interim title with a third-round knockout of Demetrios Ceballos in February of 2002, but was stopped for the first time in his next bout by Diosbelys Hurtado.
“The old expression is that the punch is the last thing to go, and this guy is a true puncher. Randall Bailey is the definition of a pure puncher, and that helps with your longevity when you’re a puncher, if you look at, say, what George Foreman did to Michael Moorer,” said DiBella, referring to a 10th-round stoppage that made Foreman the oldest man to win a heavyweight title at the age of 45.
“Randall doesn’t have the same legs as he used to have or the same movement that he used to have, but his power has translated tremendously as a welterweight. In fact, I think that he’s stronger as a welterweight than he was at 140 in terms of punching power. I don’t care who you are, if Randall Bailey hits you on the button, you’re going to be knocked out.”
ALEXANDER’S PATH OF REDEMPTION
Although he is among the premiere young fighters in boxing, Alexander had to restore what had become a maligned reputation with a unanimous decision over Marcos Maidana in February that occurred 15 days after his 25th birthday before a partisan crowd at the Scottrade Center in his native St. Louis, Mo.
In victory over Maidana, Alexander rebounded from a series of lackluster performances, having lost his WBC junior welterweight belt following an 11th-round technical decision loss to current Bradley in January of last year, and escaped with a 10-round decision win over Lucas Matthysse in June.
“This fight with Bailey means a lot more to me, and I’m excited, because this will be my third title fight that I’ll be fighting for and winning at the age of 25,” said Alexander.
“So I’m excited about that. It’s going to be a tough fight, but I’m definitely going in there and taking control from the opening bell until the end.”
Prior to facing Bradley, Alexander won a disputed decision over former titleholder Andriy Kotelnik in August of 2009, and blamed extreme weight loss for the efforts against Kotelnik, Bradley and Matthysse.
“The weight was the issue when I was fighting at 140. I didn’t know it at first, but I was like, ‘something is wrong, because I’m not being as elusive as I could be, and I don’t have the legs I used to have anymore,’” said Alexander. “I felt like I wasn’t strong enough and that I had way more energy than I was able to put out. So the weight was definitely an issue, but hey, it happens.”
Having faced Kotelnik and Matthysse in St. Louis Family Arena and Scottrade Center, respectively, Alexander was perceived to have benefited from home-cooking by the judges.
“I still got some criticism because I still feel like I haven’t proven myself, because you still have people out there who are talking bad about me,” said Alexander. “But in life, everything happens for a reason, so I’m still going to continue to prove myself. I think that my situation is great right now.”
Cunningham said that Bailey offers Alexander yet another opportunity to display his overall abilities, including his punching power.
“When you look at this fight, most people would think that Devon is going to be running around, moving around and trying to win on points and to win by a 12-round decision, but that’s not the game plan, man. The game plan for us in our mind is that we’re going in there to win this fight, and we’re going in there to take tht title,” said Cunningham.
“The way that you that you take the title and make a statement is to win by knockout. So our game plan is to knock out the knockout king. That’s what the game plan is for us. We’re planning on stopping Randall Bailey. Point blank. Period.”
BAILEY-ALEXANDER GOES OPPOSITE HBO’S ANDRE WARD-CHAD DAWSON
Bailey-Alexander will compete with an HBO-televised bout between RING light heavyweight champion Chad Dawson (31-1, 17 KOs) and RING super middleweight champion Andre Ward (25-0, 13 KOs) that is slated for Sept. 8 at the Oracle Arena in Ward’s hometown of Oakland, Calif.
“We’ve got one of the biggest events of 2012,” said Ward’s promoter, Dan Goossen. “We’re looking forward to promoting it, and I have no problem with any events being opposite.”
Dawson is dropping to 168 to challenge for Ward’s WBA and WBC belts. Cunningham, however, believes that it makes sense for Bailey to defend his belt against Alexander in St. Louis, where the challenger is a big draw.
“We have some of the greatest boxing fans in the world in St. Louis, and this game is a business. It only makes sense to take the fight where it can do the best draw at the gate. Obviously, that would be St.Louis. But we’re just concerned at getting a shot at the title, so it doesn’t matter to us where the fight happens,” said Cunningham.
“You’ve got another great fight on the same night with Andre Ward and Chad Dawson, and the fight is happening in Oakland, and I’m pretty sure that they know that they’re going to do a big gate. But like I said, as far as we’re concerned, the fight can be anywhere. We’re just happy to get the shot. Much respect to Randall Bailey for stepping up to the plate.”
IS ALEXANDER READY TO JOIN BOXING’S ELITE?
Having vanquished Matthysse and Maidana during each of his past two victories since falling to Bradley, Alexander said he’s ready to join the sport’s best fighters, pound-for-pound.
Bradley dethroned Pacquiao, and it appears that Floyd Mayweather Jr. has vacated the 147-pound division, his unanimous decision dethroning Miguel Cotto as WBA junior middleweight titleholder to add that belt to the WBC’s welterweight crown he already owned.
“All of the pound-for-pounds and the big-wigs that are at the top of the game right now are fixing to be leaving out,” said Alexander. “So this is my shot to be one of the sport’s new stars. Boxing is going to need some, and I want to be one of those.”
TIME IS ON BAILEY’S SIDE
Even at his advancing age, there is room for Bailey to face Alexander because IBF President Daryl Peoples informed RingTV.com that there is no rush for the titleholder to make a mandatory defense. Although Bailey has six months in which to take a mandatory challenge, Peoples said that the current scenario allows him much more time.
Peoples said that England’s Kell Brook (27-0, 18 KOs) and Oklahoma City’s Carson Jones (34-8-2, 24 KOs) are preparing to face each other in an eliminator on July 7, with the Brock-Jones winner being in line to meet Argentina’s Hector Saldivia (41-2, 32 KOs) for the No. 1 mandatory spot and the right to challenge Bailey.
Photos by Chris Farina, Top Rank
Photo by Tom Hogan, Hoganphotos/Golden Boy Promotions
Photo by David Martin Warr, Don King Productions
Lem Satterfield can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org