Lem Satterfield

Q&A: Cunningham on Alexander, Khan, Mayweather


BROOKLYN, N.Y. — Trainer Kevin Cunningham will be a busy man tonight at Barclays Center, when he works the corners of both WBC super middleweight titleholder Sakio Bika and IBF welterweight beltholder Devon Alexander in their defenses against Anthony Dirrell and Shawn Porter, respectively.

On a Showtime-televised card that is promoted by Golden Boy and headlined by a 147-pound clash between Paulie Malignaggi and Zab Judah, the Bika and Alexander fights will be sandwiched around a battle of junior middleweight contenders Austin Trout and Erislandy Lara, giving Cunningham some adjustment time between their bouts.

Cunningham and Alexander had hoped to be facing two-division titlewinner Amir Khan, who instead may be in line to face Floyd Mayweather Jr. on May 3. Mayweather said he could name his next opponent as early as next week.

Pointing to Mayweather’s past troubles with fellow southpaws Judah, DeMarcus “Chop Chop” Corley and right-hander Shane Mosley — all of whom landed quality blows against Mayweather — Alexander made his case for a bout with the No. 1-rated, pound-for-pound fighter during an earlier interview with RingTV.com.

“Just go back and look at the skillful fighters that he’s fought… Every one of them gave him problems. You’ve got Chop Chop, you have Sugar Shane Mosley, and you have Zab,” said Alexander, who is 26. “Those have been his toughest competition, and you have to look at that. I would match up very well against Floyd Mayweather. It’s skills versus skills. I don’t think that Floyd wants to deal with that.”

Alexander’s seventh-round stoppage of Lee Purdy in May 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, who is currently THE RING’s No. 1-rated 140-pounder, 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.

Alexander has also knocked out former titleholders Juan Urango and Junior Witter, and decisioned ex-beltholders Corley and Andriy Kotelnik.

“You stack my resume on top of anybody’s and it will out-do anybody’s resume. I’m going to get my respect one way or another. I’m going to keep winning. I don’t what it is about people, but I just know that I have to continue to win. That’s all I can do is keep winning.”

Khan’s repertoire is also impressive, including unanimous decisions over Kotelnik and Maidana, a technical decision victory over Mexican great Marco Antonio Barrera, and knockouts of titlewinners Malignaggi and Judah.

Khan was stopped in 54 seconds by Breidis Prescott in September of 2008 before reeling off eight consecutive victories, four of them by stoppage.

Khan suffered consecutive losses to Lamont Peterson and Danny Garcia by split-decision and fourth-round knockout, respectively, prior to winning his past two bouts by 10th-round knockout and unanimous decision over Carlos Molina and former titleholder Julio Diaz, the latter in his last fight in April.

Khan would be looking for his third straight victory in as many fights under new trainer Virgil Hunter if he were to challenge Mayweather

RingTV.com: What will it take for you to work two championship fights in one night?

Kevin Cunningham: Sakio will be the first television fight and Devon’s the co-main event so we’ll have the Lara-Trout fight in between. It shouldn’t be too bad. If I was a betting man, I would say tha the Lara-Trout fight is going to go the distance, so we’ll just have Devon over a little earlier than he would normally come over, so I can prep him a little bit.

After Sakio’s fight, I’ll go in and get Devon ready to go. It’s no big deal. I’ve been at this for over 20 years, and I’ve promoted over 50 fights myself back in St. Louis where I’ve had six or seven of my guys on the card and gone back-to-back-to-back-to-back. Being in the amateurs, you could be in a tournament with 12 or 13 guys in a tournament and you’ve got to get them all ready. So it’s no big deal.”

RingTV.com: Is Bika an old or young 34 and will this be his last stand?

KC: I would say that he’s a young, strong 34 and he’s seasoned and he’s got the experience of being in with some of the best fighters in the sport.

He’s had his highs and his lows, and, now, being a world champion, I think that his confidence is at an all-time high as the WBC champion of the world. He’s with a trainer that he believes in and that’s just a whole new mentality and a whole new approach to everything.

Sakio’s a tough out for anybody, and to come and take what he’s worked so hard to get is going to be a rough tow to hoe. If Dirrell comes to fight, like he says that he is, this could be potentially the fight of the night.

I think that Dirrell is going to box a little more than he says that he’s going to box, especially after he gets hit by Bika. But I’ve known Dirrell since he was 12 or 13 years old, and he’s always been a fighter. He’s got to take the champ’s title, so he’s got to step up to the plate and come and get it.

RingTV.com: Is this a statement fight for Alexander?

KC: Every fight when you go out and defend your title, then it’s important. Being that we’re in a division where the pound-for-pound king reside, you want to put your best foot forward. You want to try to be as dominant as you can make it.

You want to make a statement every time you go out in order to put yourself in the position to fight Floyd Mayweather or Manny Pacquiao.  We’re looking at that and we’re planning on going out and winning this fight as impressively as possible.

RingTV.com: How disappointed were you at not getting the Khan fight?

KC: Well, Khan shouted out and called out Devon’s name and said that he wanted to fight Devon, and then when we agreed to give him a shot at the title, he back-peddaled and found a way to get out of the fight.

So it looks like he’s going to probably be fighting Mayweather next, so his team probably decided that if you fight Devon, there’s a good chance that you might not make it to Mayweather.

So they decided to bypass taking a shot at winning Devon’s title, which would have given them even more leverage in a Mayweather negotiation if they could have come in and beat Devon and won the title.

But they decided that the title wasn’t worth it, evidently. So, hey, they’ve got to live with that, and that’s the decision that Khan and his team made.

So we’ve got to move on and deal with whoever we have in front of us, and that, at this time, is Shawn Porter. So we’ve got to move on and deal with whoever we have in front of us, and that, at this time, is Shawn Porter.

I think that Devon is seasoned and experienced and still young. He’s seen it all and fought some of the best guys in the 140-pound division and the 147-pound division. He can box and he can fight and he’s smart and he can make whatever adjustments need to be made on the fly.

If you’re one-demensional, the chances of beating Devon are very slim. Shawn Porter’s a very strong, tough, ready and willing opponent, but I think that he’s going to find himself out-gunned and find out what this level is all about.

RingTV.com: Do you have any hopes of ever getting a fight with Mayweather?

KC: A lot of people are talking about who Floyd’s next opponent is going to be, and I think that if I was a betting man, I would say that it’s going to be Amir Khan.

Is Amir Khan a deserving opponent? I don’t think so, but hey, that’s Floyd’s business. That’s the direction they’re going in. Me, personally, I would like to see Floyd fight a fighter with the athletic ability that could match him with the same athleticism that Floyd possesses.

Nine times out of 10, that’s going to take an African American fighter to possess that kind of athleticism. I don’t see him fighting any brothers any time soon.

You would have to be alert, quick on your feet, and be able to to play chess. Floyd sets a lot of traps, and if you don’t have the athleticism to deal with that then you’ll never beat a Floyd Mayweather.

It would be interesting to see Devon in there with him. Take nothing away from Floyd. He’s one of the best ever and will probably go out as one of the best ever

But it would be nice to see him match up with guys that can match his athleticism, and fighting the guys that he has been fighting lately are just a half-step slow and slow-footed. They’ve been the perfect opponents for a slick, quick fighter like Floyd.



Photo by Tom Hogan, Hoganphotos/Golden Boy Promotions

Lem Satterfield can be reached at lemuel.satterfield@gmail.com

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