It has been more than three years and six fights since southpaw Devon Alexander scored his fifth straight stoppage victory with a sixth-round KO of Juan Urango for the IBF junior welterweight belt in March 2010.
In his previous bout, in August of 2009, Alexander had earned the WBC’s 140-pound title with an eighth-round stoppage of Junior Witter, who, like Urango, was stopped for the first time in his career.
On Saturday night at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, N.J., Alexander will make the first defense of the IBF welterweight belt he won from hard-punching Randall Bailey last October, doing so against Lee Purdy, of the United Kingdom, on Showtime.
“I’ve seen all different types of styles. Punchers, boxers, sluggers, whatever you name,” said Alexander. “I’ve seen it all, and I’ll be ready for whatever he brings. I’m a student of the game.”
On a recent media conference call, Alexander (24-1, 13 knockouts) said he wants “to send a statement to everybody at 147 that I’m a force to be reckoned with” against Purdy (20-3-1, 13 KOs), a 25-year-old Brit who has won last four bouts by stoppage, including a ninth-round TKO of of veteran gatekeeper Cosme Rivera in March.
“[A knockout is] long overdue. So, Lee Purdy is coming to fight, and he’s hungry,” said Alexander of Purdy, whose three losses were by decision to Peter McDonagh, Denton Vassell and Colin Lynes in December of 2008, April of 2010 and November of 2011, respectively.
“He wants my title, but he’s just in the wrong spot at the wrong time and the wrong timing for him. I’m in another lane and he’s in another lane, but my lane is headed to super stardom, and he’s in the wrong place at the wrong time.”
Purdy represents the fourth straight fight during which Alexander will be facing a power puncher, having won his past three matchups over RING No. 1-rated junior welterweight Lucas Matthysse, Matthysse’s Argentine countryman Marcos Maidana and Bailey — all of whom pack a wallop.
Meanwhile, Alexander has not lost since January of 2011. That’s when, as a junior welterweight, Alexander suffered an 11th-round technical decision loss to unbeaten fellow titleholder Tim Bradley, who went on to score a controversial split-decision over Manny Pacquiao that earned him the WBO 147-pound belt last June.
Alexander blamed extreme weight loss for his setback against Bradley and for his dull performance in the disputed split-decision win over Matthysse in June of 2011.
Alexander looked much more impressive in his next bout, a one-sided unanimous decision over Maidana last February, which Alexander’s trainer, Kevin Cunningham, said is a testament to his boxer’s being more energetic and dominant as a welterweight.
“I’m comfortable at 147. I believe in my skills,” said Alexander, 26, who handled Bailey by scores 115-111, 116-110, and, 117-109. “A lot of people actually don’t give me the credit that I deserve and they take me lightly and take me for granted, which is cool. Sometimes, you’ve got to make people respect you and that’s what I’m going to do.”
While Alexander said his fight with Bailey was “about being smart,” and “getting out of there with the belt,” he believes there are moments in the Maidana fight where he should have gone for the kill.
“When I went to go back and look at the fight, I did feel like, ‘damn, I could have stopped him.’ But I was just so anxious to put a hurt on him and I wasn’t relaxed enough and just wanted people to know that Devon is back at 147,” said Alexander.
“I’m better and I’m stronger, and I wasn’t as calm as I needed to be for me to see the knockout. But when I went back and I looked at it, I was like, ‘Wow, I could have hit him with this shot or hit him with that shot,’ and it could have ended the fight. But the Maidana fight is over, I’m constantly learning. I’m going to make up for that.”
Alexander-Purdy is the co-featured bout to the Lamont Peterson-Lucas Matthysse main event. Purdy was chosen late last month after Alexander’s original opponent, Kell Brook (29-0, 19 KOs), pulled out because of an ankle injury.
It was the third postponement of a scheduled fight between Brook and Alexander, which was pushed back from its original date of Jan. 19 due to Brook’s ankle problems. The second postponement happened following a “freak” biceps injury to Alexander, moving the bout from its second date of Feb. 23.
“As far as me fighting Kell Brook, it was a roller coaster, going back and forth, he got injured, that postponed it, and then I got injured, then they postponed it again. Then he got injured again, and then we had to do something else. So it was a roller coaster, and it was very frustrating,” said Alexander.
“Now, I’m fighting Lee Purdy for a reason. He must be a super opponent, and he must be the guy that I’m supposed to be fighting at this particular time. I wanted to fight Kell Brook because they considered him to be one of the best at 147. I wanted to beat him. But they put Lee Purdy in front of me, and now, I’ve got to beat him next.”
As far as his biceps, Alexander said that’s “good.”
“Right after I injured my bicep, I did therapy on it. I started doing immediate therapy,” said Alexander. “I found out that it was just a little tear and that it was heal-able with therapy and that going to therapy every other day would heal it. I’m ready to rock and roll 100 percent.”
Purdy said, however, that it is he is “ready to make a statement out there.”
“I’ve obviously seen him fight before, and I believe I can cause him some problems,” said Purdy. “I’ve watched him a lot. He holds a lot. I didn’t come all this way to fight and then… If we have a decent ref and doesn’t allow the holding, then it will be a good fight.”
No matter Purdy’s intention, Alexander said it won’t make a difference come fight night.
“I know that he’s going to come to fight. But it’s not going to matter. I’m versatile,” said Alexander. “I’ll be ready for anybody on May 18. There are better things to come for Devon Alexander, and I assure you of that.”
Photos by Tom Hogan Photos, Golden Boy Promotions
Lem Satterfield can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org