LOS ANGELES – Of the three bouts presented on Saturday’s Showtime tripleheader, the matchup getting the least amount of attention from fans and media is the welterweight bout between former IBF titleholder Devon Alexander and Jesus Soto Karass.
The scheduled 10-round bout, which kicks off Showtime’s Championship Boxing telecast from StubHub Center in Carson, Calif., is a classic boxer-versus-slugger matchup, but there isn’t a huge buzz about the fight.
Maybe it’s because the two veterans are no longer considered players in the welterweight division after being clearly beaten in their last bouts. Alexander (25-2, 14 knockouts) was shocked by then-prospect Shawn Porter, who soundly outfought him en route to an upset unanimous decision last December. One week after Alexander lost his IBF belt, Soto Karass (28-9-3, 18 KOs), one of boxing’s perennial gatekeepers, was knocked out by undefeated contender Keith Thurman.
However, Oscar De La Hoya believes Alexander-Soto Karass is going to deliver, and the president of Golden Boy Promotions, which is presenting Saturday’s show, says their losses are the reason.
“There’s added pressure on a fighter to look good and perform at his best after he suffers a loss,” De La Hoya told RingTV.com at Wednesday’s media workouts at Westside Boxing Club. “I know they’re feeling that pressure.
“A motivated Alexander is going to show up. He’s a dangerous fighter. And any fight involving Soto Karass is going to turn into a war. It’s going to be great for the fans because both guys know they have to win to get back into the mix.
“They’re looking at the big picture. They want to take the next step, which is to be involved in a big welterweight fight. The division is very hot right now. They know there are some big fights that can be made at welterweight and they want to be in those fights.”
Alexander thought he was going to be in at least one high-profile welterweight clash last year. However, three scheduled title defenses against undefeated British contender Kell Brook, a fight that had major interest in the UK as well as the U.S., were cancelled due to training injuries suffered by both fighters. A much-talked about showdown with former champ Amir Khan didn’t pan out either.
The on-off-on-and-off-again Brook situation, plus the letdown of the Khan fight not happening, led many boxing pundits to speculate that Alexander wasn’t as focused for Porter as he should have been. The 27-year-old southpaw admits that he wasn’t himself that night.
“Not following the game plan, not listening to my corner was the problem in that fight,” the St. Louis native told RingTV.com. “To be honest, I took him lightly.”
Alexander, who has decision victories over Marcos Maidana, Lucas Matthysse and former titleholder Randle Bailey, says he won’t make that mistake with Soto Karass.
“He’s a tough, tough competitor,” Alexander said of the 31-year-old native of Los Mochis, Mexico. “Soto Karass is like a Maidana or a Matthysse. I don’t expect nothing but a hard fight from him.”
Soto Karass says Alexander better believe it.
“I’m prepared for everything he does in the ring and I’m prepared to kick his ass,” Soto Karass told RingTV.com through Golden Boy matchmaker Robert Diaz on Wednesday. “I’m more focused for this fight than I was for Thurman. All due to respect to Alexander, he’s not going come into that ring and take food off my family’s plate.”
Alexander says he’s also more focused than he was for his last fight.
“I want to be one of the best in boxing,” he said. “If I’m going to achieve that I got to stay mentally focused. I don’t blame my loss to Porter on any letdowns from the fights with Khan and Brook not happening. If I’m going to be elite I have to take responsibility for my losses.”
De La Hoya agrees with Alexander’s philosophy and thinks the two-division titlewinner is still in his prime. Soto Karass isn’t, but De La Hoya says that’s partially why the Los Angeles-based slugger is dangerous.
“Soto Karass is always the underdog, there’s less pressure on him than there is on Alexander,” he said. “Alexander is the younger man, he’s the former champ; everyone is watching him. There’s more pressure on him to win this fight. That can work for him or against him. We’ll see.”
Email Fischer at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @dougiefischer