Southpaw Devon Alexander had put together quite an impressive resume before being dethroned as IBF welterweight titleholder following a unanimous decision loss to unbeaten Shawn Porter in his last fight in December.
Nicknamed, "The Great," Alexander (25-2, 14 knockouts) readily admits he was anything but that against Porter, who dictated a physical fight that left both men bleeding from cuts above their eyes, ending Alexander’s winning streak at four consecutive bouts since falling to former WBO 147-pound beltholder Tim Bradley in January 2011.
Alexander returns to action against Jesus Soto Karass as part of a Showtime-televised tripleheader on June 21 at StubHub Center in Carson, Calif. The card includes featherweights Gary Russell Jr. and Vasyl Lomachenko in a clash for the vacant WBO belt and former welterweight titleholder Robert Guerrero against Yoshihiro Kamegai. The card is being promoted by Golden Boy Promotions.
"I have to say that [Soto Karass]'s a tough guy. Anybody is tough once they get into the ring, in general, but he's a guy who is going to try to take your head off. He's going to come and fight and I have to be on point," said Alexander, who turned 27 in February.
"I definitely think that it's going to be an explosive evening because I'm going to go in there with the intentions of making a statement. I'm going to relax and have fun in there. I'm out to show people that I'm one of the top guys at 147."
Soto Karass (28-9-3, 18 KOs) has fought as high as junior middleweight in a fifth-round stoppage loss to middleweight title challenger Gabriel Rosado in January 2012 and is 4-2 with two knockouts over the course of his past six fights.
In succession, Soto Karass lost by eighth-round TKO to Marcos Maidana in September 2012, scored consecutive wins by majority decision over Selcuk Aydin in January 2013 and 12th-round stoppage over former titleholder Andre Berto last July. He lost his last fight by ninth-round stoppage to Keith Thurman in December.
"I don't want to compare myself to anybody. What I have to do is just go in there and do what I do. I'm definitely going to be hitting harder and my speed is going to be there," said Alexander. "I'm going to be looking more explosive and I'm going to look good doing it. I just need to go in there and do what I do and keep on beating these guys."
A product of St. Louis, Mo., Alexander’s run prior to facing Porter included a split decision win over current RING number one-rated junior welterweight Lucas Matthysse in June 2011 that preceded a unanimous decision over Maidana in his welterweight debut in February 2012.
Alexander then dethroned hard-hitting Randall Bailey for the IBF belt in October 2012 before scoring a seventh-round stoppage against Lee Purdy last May prior to his loss to Porter.
A former two-belt titleholder at 140-pounds, Alexander also owns eighth-round stoppage wins over ex-beltholders Juan Urango and Junior Witter, as well as a unanimous decision over former titleholder Andriy Kotelnik, who has beaten Maidana.
Porter admitted having borrowed a page from Bradley to defeat Alexander, using roughhouse tactics and rhythm-breaking movement although Porter was perhaps even more impressive with last month's fourth-round stoppage of ex-beltholder Paulie Malignaggi, whom he dropped twice during their fight.
Meanwhile, Maidana has gone on to dethrone previously unbeaten Adrien Broner by unanimous decision for the WBA's 147-pound bout in December before falling by majority decision to RING and WBC welterweight champion Floyd Mayweather Jr. on May 3, this a year after Guerrero lost via unanimous decision to Mayweather.
At one point, Alexander was a consideration to face ex-beltholder Amir Khan, whose welterweight debut was a one-sided unanimous decision over left-handed former titleholder Luis Collazo on the Mayweather-Maidana card.
Alexander shared his thoughts on Soto Karass and Maidana as well as potential bouts opposite Porter, Guerrero, Thurman, Khan and Garcia.
Devon Alexander on where he is at this point in his career:
"Everything's good. I can't complain. What I can complain about is where I ain't at in my career. That's what I want to complain about. I'm trying to get back and I want to do it fast and in a hurry."
On the loss to Porter, and Porter's win over Malignaggi:
"I didn't follow my game plan and my coach, Kevin Cunningham always says that once we come up with master game plans and if I don't execute, then the result of that is that you get hit too much and you're just not getting off like you're supposed to.
"So my not following the game plan is why he has so much success. There's not much of a difference between that and the Tim Bradley fight. I'm not making any excuses or taking nothing away from Shawn Porter.
"Shawn Porter came to fight but I didn't do what I was supposed to do. My losses are a result of something that I didn't do that I was supposed to do and because I didn't do something that we worked on in camp. No excuses, though."
On the notion of Porter's emulating Bradley's roughhouse style and dictating the scope of their fight:
"You know, they were rugged both times but each one of those times, I did get off my game plan. The rough tactics, I've fought guys with rough tactics before but it's just that I didn't do what I was supposed to do as far as the game plan. I know that it can get rough.
"Lucas Matthysse was rough and so was Marcos Maidana but I stuck to the game plan. I should have followed the game plan against Bradley and Porter and I should have beaten both of those guys.
"But I still know that I'm way better than I showed in those fights. I'm way better. In my opinion, Porter's an average fighter. Malignaggi didn't have the pop to keep him off but Porter got the victory."
On whether the Maidana who lost to him is better than the Maidana who beat Broner and lost to Mayweather:
"Not at all. Not at all. I will give him credit for what he says about Robert Garcia having changed his style up a little bit. But as far as his style, he's still basically a come-forward guy that throws a lot of punches and who won't stop coming.
"He had his A-game against Floyd but I think that if he's fighting somebody who is boxing him and who is not willing to just stand there and trade with him, then it's different and that's the way that I fought him.
"But I'm not taking anything away from anybody. He has improved a little bit with Robert Garcia but I still see the same fighter for the most part."
On being out of action for over six months by the time he faces Soto Karass:
"For sure, I've used my time productively. You don't want to stay too long out of the ring but I've been using this time to make sure that we capitalize and that we're not making the same mistakes that I did in my last fight.
"Like I told you earlier, I've been talking and it's good to say what you don't do but people want to see action, so I'm glad to be back. I am so anxious to be back in the ring and to show that I'm still one of the best fighters in the world.
"But you don't want to get used to starting over and over again. We've been working in the gym and we're getting back to the basics because those always work.
"As far as listening, that's all that I need to do. I've always been a good listener. I've always listened to Kevin in the ring but when I don't, things don't go right or go as planned.
"So we're just focusing where I was when I beat Junior Witter or when I beat Juan Urango and when I beat all of those guys with speed, quickness and skill. Nobody can beat me when I use my skills because I'm on point when I do that.
"That's what you're going to see on June 21. So, this is one of those things where I have to keep on winning to show them where I should be in this division, so you will see."
On the division and whether or not he is getting the respect he deserves:
"Of course, I'm not getting the respect and I don't know why. I guess that's because of the two losses that I have and I guess the way that I lost. Ever since I was coming up, I've been a hot prospect and people have always expected more from me.
"They don't expect me to do anything but to beat a guy up and to beat a guy like I am supposed to. So when I come up short, you're going to hear it. But all in all, I've beaten top opposition and guys that people don't want to fight.
"I've been in the ring with some top-notch guys or guys like Randall Bailey, who can hurt you with both hands and who can punish you. But it didn't matter. You know, I've beaten them easily.
On Keith Thurman:
"Thurman's record, it's okay but it's padded in my opinion. Keith Thurman does not compare to me at all, really. Who has he fought to be one of the top guys? He may be coming up but he hasn't fought anybody of my caliber or the caliber of the guys that I've fought in my opinion."
On whom he would like to face, in order, should he defeat Soto Karass among Guerrero, Thurman, Porter, Khan and Danny Garcia:
"You want to be smart. All of them guys sound excellent for after this fight and I'm surely not looking past Soto Karass. But after this, Guerrero does make sense.
"You know, he's coming off of a loss to Mayweather and he would be coming off a win after Mayweather. So that would make sense. I would love Guerrero after Soto Karass.
"In my opinion, I would like to fight Thurman. Thurman is somebody that I would like to fight because they're really pumping him up like he's the next big thing.
"Keith Thurman and then Shawn Porter and then Amir Khan. But I don't think Amir Khan would want it. He's still on this Floyd Mayweather thing. He's obsessed with it.
"So Amir Khan don't want to come nowhere near nobody. He wants to fight Floyd, so I'd have to pick him last. I don't know what Garcia's doing. I don't know if he's moving up or moving down. That's would be the fifth person.
"Garcia would be the last because he's not sure what he's doing. Either one of those fights would be good for me. All five of those fights would definitely be good. I can definitely beat all of them."