BROOKLYN, N.Y. – The crowd at the inaugural boxing event at Barclays Center waited in anticipation. They waited for a big punch from knockout artist Randall Bailey, a shot that never materialized.
That was Bailey’s only chance against the superior boxer Devon Alexander and he lost his IBF welterweight title wide on the cards (115-111, 116-110 and 117-109) in the opening bout on the Showtime Championship Boxing telecast, a dull affair that bored the audience.
“I was cautious. I had to be smart, he’s a veteran,” said Alexander, fighting for just the second time at 147 pounds. “I could have let my hands go a little bit more, but I still had to be smart. He was definitely slower than I thought he would be, but you have to fight smart with a guy who can throw a punch like he can. I felt like I hurt him with my jab a lot. I know my coach (Kevin Cunningham) is going to yell at me because I should have worked harder and let my hands go. But I will just keep learning with experience and now that I’m champ again I can do that.”
Bailey did manage to set a record in the bout, though not one he’ll want to boast about. He broke the record for fewest connected punches in a 12-round fight tracked by CompuBox, landing just 45 shots (throwing 198). The previous record in the 27-year history of CompuBox was held by James “Bonecrusher” Smith, who landed just 48 shots against Mike Tyson in 1987.
“He’s young and fast and he moves a lot faster than I thought,” said Bailey, who won the title from Mike Jones with a highlight reel, come-from-behind knockout. “I couldn’t get him to stay in front of me. He kept moving, I couldn’t get him to stay and fight my fight. The jab wasn’t a factor. He’s just young. He had youth on his side tonight.”
Alexander (24-1, 13 knockouts) out-boxed Bailey (43-8, 37 KOs) from the beginning, beating his opponent to the punch, while Bailey methodically pumped his jab and measured him for power shots.
Alexander, 25, was clearly wary of Bailey’s knockout power. He held his right hand out as a measuring stick from his southpaw stance, jabbing and turning Bailey, 38, around. Alexander landed few shots of significance, winning rounds purely on activity. He threw 534 shots in the bout, more than double Bailey’s output.
The first big punch of the night came from Bailey, an overhand right that caught Alexander on the chin. Alexander immediately held and wrestled Bailey to the canvas, prompting referee Arthur Mercante Jr. to rule a slip, giving Alexander valuable recuperative time. Bailey, of Miami, followed up with a few more nice rights in the round, giving the fans their first action of the night. But the excitement didn’t last.
After tasting Bailey’s power, Alexander, of St. Louis, got on his bike, darting in with shots before escaping harm’s way. He displayed poor sense of range, often coming up just short on shots, but Bailey, rated No. 7 by THE RING, rarely countered.
Mercante Jr. dubiously deducted a point from each fighter in the sixth for holding, with no stern warning given to either.
They tussled on the inside, as Bailey led with his head and rabbit-punched.
A clash of heads opened up a slice over Bailey’s right eyelid in the 11th round, drawing blood.
Bailey connected on some nice power shots in the bout, but those moments were fleeting.
Alexander is the new champion (even if it’s likely he didn’t win any new fans with the performance), as well as now being a two-division titlewinner.
“I could have done way better. Way better than that,” said Alexander. “I expected him to be strong, he’s got more knockouts than I got wins. He’s a veteran and he hit hard. But I got a chin.”
Photo / Al Bello-Gettyimages
Photo / Alex Trautwig-Gettyimages
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