Southpaw Devon Alexander has called Saturday's bout with rugged Jesus Soto Karass "a statement fight for me" while his welterweight rival insists he is "going to fight hard" to be triumphant at StubHub Center in Carson, Calif., on Showtime.
Alexander and Soto Karass share a common opponent is Marcos Maidana and are attempting to rebound from losses in their quest to remain relevant in the stacked 147-pound division.
Alexander (25-2, 14 knockouts), 27, has faced seven current or past world titleholders in his last nine fights, a run that includes decision victories over two of Argentina's most devastating punchers – Maidana and Lucas Matthysse.
Alexander's only losses are to THE RING's number five pound-for-pound fighter Timothy Bradley and THE RING's number four-rated welterweight, IBF titleholder Shawn Porter, who remained undefeated with a fourth-round stoppage of two-division beltwinner Paulie Malignaggi in April.
Soto Karass (28-9-3, 18 KOs) is a hard-slugging 31-year-old who lost his last fight, being floored once each in the fifth and final rounds of a ninth-round stoppage loss to Keith Thurman in December.
Prior to facing Porter, Alexander had scored a seventh-round stoppage of Lee Purdy in May of 2013, representing his fourth straight victory since falling to Bradley by 10th-round technical decision in January 2011.
Alexander dethroned hard-hitting Randall Bailey for the IBF belt in October 2012 before facing Purdy, has stopped former titleholders Juan Urango and Junior Witter and has decisioned former titleholders DeMarcus Corley and Andriy Kotelnik.
Entering his match with Maidana in February 2012, there were some observers who felt Alexander had lost his previous three bouts against Kotelnik, Bradley and Matthysse. Alexander, meanwhile, dominated Maidana, winning by scores of 99-91 and 100-90 (twice).
Maidana's past five fights since facing Alexander have included three straight knockouts, one of which was over Soto Karass in the eighth round in September 2012.
Soto Karass has fought as high as junior middleweight for a fifth-round knockout 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 to Maidana in September 2012, scored consecutive wins by majority decision over Selcuk Aydin in January 2013 and 12th-round technical knockout over former titleholder Andre Berto last July before losing to Thurman.
RingTV.com polled 18 insiders for their thoughts on what will transpire in Alexander-Soto Karass.
Devon Alexander W 10 Jesus Soto Karass: To paraphrase "The Wire's" Stringer Bell, this fight is boxing's equivalent of a 40-degree day. Devon Alexander takes a decision over Jesus Soto Karass in a fight that is forgotten about by night's end.
Record: 10-4 [Last pick: Miguel Cotto late TKO Sergio Martinez]
Devon Alexander W 10 Jesus Soto Karass: Devon Alexander. Nobody calls him Alexander "The Great" anymore. Like the mythic warrior for whom he was named, that's history.
At this point, Alexander is simply trying to regain the promise he once displayed. It wasn't there in losing to Shawn Porter in his last bout. If the slippage was simply an aberration – a so-called bad night – Jesus Soto Karass is in trouble.
If there's more of it, however, the trouble will be Alexander's. The opportunistic Soto Karass has put together a pretty good career with victories over fighters in decline.
Anybody hear from Andre Berto since he was stopped by Soto Karass last year? Didn't think so. Alexander is smart enough to know that he needs an impressive win if he hopes to make some real noise in the future.
Record: 12-5 [Last pick: Cotto UD 12 Martinez]
Devon Alexander W 10 Jesus Soto Karass: What's not to like about the fighting mentality of Jesus Soto Karass? The man is a warrior in the ring and he once pledged a willingness to die there if need be to win.
Unfortunately for Soto Karass – or perhaps fortunately – Devon Alexander will not give him a chance to make such an ultimate sacrifice. It won't be that kind of fight.
Stylistically, fans prefer what Soto Karass brings to the table but it's also exactly what a slick southpaw like Alexander can negate with relative ease if he fights smart against the battle-worn Mexican brawler.
Look for Alexander to outbox Soto Karass and win in the range of 98-92. Alexander "The Great" gets back in the win column but afterwards, nobody will be talking about what a great fight this was.
Record: 11-6 [Last pick: Martinez TKO 10 Cotto]
Devon Alexander UD 10 Jesus Soto Karass: Devon Alexander will be well-rested after his heartbreaking loss to Shawn Porter six months ago and he'll be ready to get back on the horse.
A St. Louis native, Alexaander is leagues above Jesus Soto Karass in terms of technical skill and he is too cute to be drawn into a fight by the rampaging Soto Karass. I see Alexander controlling time and distance, winning wide and moving on.
Record: 13-4 [Last pick: Martinez TKO 10 Cotto]
Devon Alexander W 10 Jesus Soto Karass: Devon Alexander hasn't fared well against physical fighters and if Jesus Soto Karass is anything, he's physical.
However, Alexander's precision will tear holes through Soto Karass' extremely porous defense and because he's closer to his best than Soto Karass is, he'll win on points.
Record: 6-4 [Last pick: Martinez W 12 Cotto]
Devon Alexander UD 10 Jesus Soto Karass: Devon Alexander is in dire need of a performance that will remind us of who he was supposed to be before the Tim Bradley and Shawn Porter fights.
Jesus Soto Karass could be the perfect opponent for Alexander to do that against. Alexander is too quick and possesses just enough pop in his punches to keep the plodding Soto Karass from loading up in fear of a counter.
I wouldn't be surprised if Alexander stopped the aging Soto Karass late but I think he'll play it safe and do exactly what he did to Marcos Maidana for 10 rounds.
Record: 13-3 [Last pick: Martinez UD 12 Cotto]
Devon Alexander UD 10 Jesus Soto Karass: Every time we think Jesus Soto Karass is finished, he beats someone supposedly better than him. I still can't see that happening again, particularly because he'll encounter a suddenly desperate Devon Alexander.
Back-to-back losses to Porter and Soto Karass would ruin even an Al Haymon-backed fighter. The relentless, tough Soto Karass might make it interesting but Alexander's hand speed and movement will be too problematic for him to overcome. Plus, Alexander CANNOT lose this fight. And he won’t.
Record: 4-1 [Last pick: Chavez Jr. UD 12 Vera]
Devon Alexander W 10 Jesus Soto-Karass: Jesus Soto Karass is the ultimate spoiler, as he showed in his first fight against Mike Jones, despite being robbed on the cards, as well as in his upset of Andre Berto.
This time, however, I think Devon Alexander will steer clear of the Mexican's wheelhouse and stay on the outside. I think Soto Karass will have a hard time getting inside on the southpaw.
Alexander is under pressure to deliver the type of boxing exhibition he did against Marcos Maidana in order to remain in the discussion for the lucrative fights at welterweight.
Record: 4-0 [Last pick: Cotto W 12 Martinez]
Devon Alexander TKO-9 Jesus Soto-Karass: Devon "Alexander the Great" is in fact not great, but he is good, and he does know his way around that ring. Devon, with his style, can be agony to watch.
But Jesus Soto-Karass is made to order for him. He'll come forward, and Alexander will use his bag of tricks to frustrate hiim, build up the volume of punches as he goes along and eventually stop him late in the fight
Devon Alexander W 10 Jesus Soto Karass: Devon Alexander and Jesus Soto Karass are both coming off tough losses. Alexander was overwhelmed by Shawn Porter while Soto Karass was brutally stopped by heavy-handed Keith Thurman.
I think that Alexander, who is the younger man by four years, has the style to handle Soto Karass. I see him boxing his way to a 12-round decision.
Record: 12-5 [Last pick: Martinez W 12 Cotto]
Devon Alexander W 10 Jesus Soto Karass: After Shawn Porter just mauled Devon Alexander, the chance that could happen to Devon here against Jesus Soto Karass seems possible. It's more likely he turns in a performance on par with his drubbing of Marcos Maidana.
Record: 9-7 [Last pick: Martinez KO Cotto]
Devon Alexander W 10 Jesus Soto Karass: Jesus Soto Karass is a solid, extremely tough fighter who gives most opponents trouble. But a large disparity in talent and athleticism will work in the favor of Devon Alexander, who will win a comfortable decision.
Record: 9-3 [Last pick: Carl Froch UD 12 George Groves]
Devon Alexander UD 10 Jesus Soto Karass: I've got Devon Alexander using his speed and overall boxing ability to turn back what will be a very spirited effort from Jesus Soto Karass. I'm thinking a very clear but competitive unanimous decision for Devon.
Record: 8-4 [Last pick: Martinez W 12 Cotto]
Devon Alexander UD 10 Jesus Soto Karass: Devon Alexander begins what he hopes will be a climb back to a world title shot after his loss to Shawn Porter. Jesus Soto Karass has been a gatekeeper in the welterweight division and will look to end the Alexander comeback before it gets started.
Alexander is the more skilled fighter and will look to win a boxing match while Soto Karass will try to force Alexander into a war. There is more at stake for Alexander and I think he will be able to box on the outside and use his superior hand speed to fight his fight. Soto Karass is a live underdog and will be in the fight until the end. I'll go with Alexander by close unanimous decision.
Record: 10-2 [Last pick: Martinez UD 12 Cotto]
Devon Alexander UD 10 Jesus Soto Karass: Devon Alexander will outbox Jesus Soto Karass, who knows only one way to fight and that's straight ahead with fists flying.
Record: 9-2 [Last pick: Martinez SD 12 Cotto]
Devon Alexander W 10 Jesus Soto Karass: Devon Alexander against Jesus Soto Karass could be one of two things: a fun-filled-action bout or a 12-round snoozer. Either way, I'll go with former champ Alexander keeping it safe from the distance and maintaining some hope for himself in what has been an up-and-down career.
Record: 10-5 [Last pick: Martinez W 12 Cotto]
Devon Alexander W 10 Jesus Soto Karass: For a fighter with nine losses on his record, Jesus Soto Karass is almost always just one win away from being in a high-profile fight. That's because he's rarely ever in a boring fight and tends to fight with the same sort of intensity the classic idea of a fighter fought with. Journeyman, gatekeeper, contender, whatever you want to call him, "boring" usually isn't on the list.
Devon Alexander, on the other hand, has had some genuine snoozers in what can be considered a truly respectable career. Alexander has been blessed with excellent hand and foot speed and respectable power if he ever actually tried to genuinely knock someone out. The problem is Alexander has always been content to jab his way to victories that could have been punishing victories.
Karass has some sneaky veteran moves and is certainly capable of overwhelming Alexander with volume on the inside to steal a win. The problem is that while Karass has pulled the upset a few times, he's on the downside of a shortening career due to the punishment he's taken. Look for Alexander to control the fight from the outside and frustrate a forward-charging Karass in 12 rounds.
Record: 6-6 [Last pick: Martinez UD 12 Cotto]
Devon Alexander W 10 Jose Soto Karass: In the build-up, Devon Alexander has talked about this being a statement fight. I expect him to use that awkward style he used against Marcos Maidana and Lucas Matthysse and outfox Jesus Soto Karass, who'll be left hitting thin air for large parts of the contest.
It'll be interesting to see if Alexander will look to engage Soto Karass and make that statement by scoring the stoppage. I suspect he wont get it. I like Alexander to win a wide decision, around 118-110.
Record: 11-4 [Last pick: Martinez W 12 Cotto]
The insiders favor two-division titlewinner Devon Alexander to defeat welterweight rival Jesus Soto Karass, doing so by a shutout, 18-0.