But the kid gloves were off for both fighters during a national conference call on Tuesday promoting their Dec. 7 Showtime-televised welterweight bout at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, where Alexander’s IBF 147-pound belt will be on the line.
“I’ve seen him fight before,” Alexander said. “I know Shawn Porter from the amateurs. I fought him when I was little and I beat him… I remember the fight. That was one of my bigger tournaments that I won. It was one that stuck with me… I don’t see no difference in Dec. 7, and I might as well keep the thing going. I know Shawn.
“He’s a good fighter and a good kid, but his skills are limited. You can’t beat me if you’re limited. You have to do something special, but I’m going to be ready on Dec. 7, whatever he brings. At the end of the day, his plans, they’re just not going to work. My coach is a natural strategist. He done broke Shawn Porter down from the feet to the head, so it doesn’t matter.”
Porter sees things differently
“I remember going three one-minute rounds throwing pillows at each other,” he said. “I remember that. He said that there’s not much of a difference between then and now, but we’re grown men now, and I’m hungry and I’m up for the challenge. I ain’t got much trash-talking to do.”
“But we’ll see Dec. 7. There’s a lot of excitement built up inside of my body, and I can’t wait to let it out. I’m going to be ready, mentally, physically, spiritually, emotionally, all the way around. I’m a well-rounded fighter and I’ve got way more to bring to the ring than Devon thinks, and I’m going to show him that on Dec. 7.”
In his last fight in May, Alexander (25-1, 14 KOs) scored a seventh-round stoppage of Lee Purdy that represented his fourth straight victory since falling to current WBO 147-pound beltholder Tim Bradley by 10th-round technical decision in January of 2011.
That run has included a split decision over Lucas Matthysse, as well as a unanimous decision over Marcos Maidana in his welterweight debut. Alexander dethroned hard-hitting Randall Bailey for the IBF belt in October of last year before facing Purdy, and has also knocked out former titleholders Juan Urango and Junior Witter, and decisioned ex-beltholders Andriy Kotelnik and DeMarcus “Chop Chop” Corley.
Alexander said that he has fully recovered from a damaged left hand suffered in the fight with Purdy, and that he expects to deliver a signature victory over Porter.
“The left hand is good. It’s well-rested,” said Alexander, who dethroned Bailey at Barclays for his belt. “I’ve been doing therapy for about a month and a half and I’ve been throwing the left hand like a rocket ship, and you guys will see evidence of that on Dec. 7. You guys will see multiple punches. I’m in tremendous shape, and I’m ready to rock.
“During each fight at 147, I’ve just gotten better and better and better. I’m learning something different every day. You don’t see just one style in Devon Alexander. You can see me stand there, or you can see me box. You can see me do multiple things. So, that’s what people don’t realize. But this fight is going to be one of my signature fights.”
“I just let my team handle that,” he said. “Of course I want the big names and I want the big wins so that I can get the notoriety that I want, and Kell Brook fell through and the Amir Khan fight fell through, which both would have been great wins for me. But everything happens for a reason. I’m just a fighter.
“If the fighters don’t want to get into the ring with me, what can I do? The only thing that I can do is to trust in my team to get me the best opponent and the best thing that I need at the time. Every time I’m scheduled to fight a UK fighter something happens. I just leave that up to my team. If Shawn Porter is going to be the next victim, then so be it.”
“You have to be a true champion. I’m an old school fighter. Something happened in the Khan camp; I can’t call it. There were a lot of rumors out there about why Khan pulled out and all of that, but I can’t speak on that,” said Alexander.
“I wanted the fight because I know that that fight would have given me the notoriety that I needed to say that I’m one of the best welterweights in the division. It didn’t happen. Who knows what he’s thinking. I think that they thought I was a big risk and that I was too much for him, or whatever. I don’t know, but I was ready to fight him December, but he pulled out, so it didn’t happen that way.”
Meanwhile, Porter (22-0-1, 14 KOs) is coming off September’s unanimous decision over ex-beltholder Julio Diaz that made up for the draw they had in December of 2012. In between, Diaz dropped Khan in the fourth round of a unanimous decision loss in April.
Porter believes that he can not only duplicate Bradley’s victory over Alexander, but that he can be more impressive.
“I’m going to do whatever it takes to win this fight,” he said. “If that’s making him quit, and if that’s making him sit down and not get up. If that’s knocking him down and him not getting up, or if that’s taking this fight 12 rounds and winning a decision, I’m prepared. I will be prepared to do whatever it takes to go home with that IBF title. I’m just too head-bent on winning that fight and winning that title not to have it.
“I’m looking forward to nothing but the fight. You look at the Bradley fight, and you look at what he did, and I know that I’m a little sharper than Bradley was in that fight, and I can get to Devon’s body a little bit better than Bradley did, and I can get to his head a little bit better than Bradley did. I know that I can do some things better than Bradley did. If it comes to Devon quitting, which the kid is from St. Louis, I’m not expecting Devon to quit at all. I’m expecting him to come 100 percent at his best.”
Some of Porter’s confidence comes from his success as a former sparring partner for eight-division titlewinner Manny Pacquiao, a southpaw he helped prepare for his triumphs over Miguel Cotto and Shane Mosley by 12th-round knockout and unanimous decision in November of 2009 and May of 2011, respectively.
“I trained with Manny for Miguel Cotto and also again for Shane Mosley, so I’ve got a lot of rounds under my belt with Manny Pacquiao and a lot of experience. But I think, more than anything, it just makes me comfortable against a southpaw with some quick feet and quick hands and it’s nothing that I’ve never seen before. It’s nothing that I’ve never been in the ring with,” said Porter.
“So I think that on Dec. 7, I’ll be bringing a little bit more to the ring than Devon will in terms of experience with fighters with the fighting style that I’m up against. Manny Pacquiao is obviously one of the best of our time, right now. I’ve gone toe-to-toe with him and I’ve backed him up, and I’ve made him literally fight me. So I’ve been at it with him in the gym and around the world, fighting with him. This is an opportunity where I can’t help but rise to the occasion.”
Alexander’s response: “I ain’t no sparring partner.
“Shawn Porter’s going to come to fight, of course he is. That’s what he’s supposed to do. But it’s not going to be enough. You’ve got to believe in yourself, and I believe in myself, and I believe in my skills….As far as him sparring with Manny Pacquiao, well, I ain’t no sparring partner and I don’t go around sparring people. I don’t have that mentality.
“When you go around sparring with people, you can have that sparring mentality like, ‘I can take a break,’ or, ‘I need to take off,’ or, ‘I need to let him beat me up.’ I don’t have that. I’m not a sparring partner. You can have all of the experience in sparring and this and that, but this is fighting. You get into the ring, and it’s about skills and craft. I’m getting better and better, and you’re going to see on Dec. 7 what I’m going to do. You guys are going to be, like, ‘Wow.’”
Photo by Tom Hogan Photos, Golden Boy Promotions
Lem Satterfield can be reached at email@example.com