Randall Bailey defends his International Boxing Federation (IBF) welterweight title against former World Champion Devon Alexander on Saturday, Sept. 8, in the main event on Showtime from Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas. The fight is still over a week away, but if these confident boxers had their way, they’d fight tonight.
“Oh, yeah, I’m definitely ready to rock ‘n roll,” said Alexander from his camp in Fort Charles, Mo. “Let’s do it now. I’m really anxious to get in there and prove to a lot of people that I am one of the best.”
Added Bailey from his training camp in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.: “I’ve never felt better and I’m ready to fight this guy right now. When I hit him right, it’s going to be goodnight.”
In the 12-round co-feature, unbeaten Nigerian Ajose Olusegun (30-0, 14 KOs) will face power-punching Argentine Lucas Matthysse (31-2, 29 KOs) for the vacant WBC Interim Super Lightweight crown.
Alexander (23-1, 13 KO’s), of St. Louis, and southpaw Bailey (43-7, 37 KO’s), of Miami, Fla., have concluded the majority of their training and are in the midst of final preparations. Each camp lasted approximately two-and-a-half months. They’ll both arrive in Las Vegas early next week.
Alexander and his longtime manager-trainer, Kevin Cunningham, are “putting the finishing touches on camp,” the fighter said. “My weight is good and everything is running great. Camp is always a little different from fight to fight, but the regimen and the training are basically always the same.
“We know Bailey’s style and what he brings to the table. If he thinks I am underestimating him, he hasn’t been paying attention to the interviews. I never take any fighter lightly; I learned that in the amateurs. A man can beat anybody on a given night.
“This is going to be a tough fight. Anybody who has that kind of power is dangerous. I know I have to be prepared (for Bailey’s right hand), but I’m not concerned about it. I do what I have to do. I just want to take control from the opening bell until the end.”
“We’re starting to wind down a little,” Bailey said. “Training camp’s been great. I’m a happy camper. I’m motivated and relaxed. Strength and conditioning, everything’s gone smoothly. We’ve really been working it. I saw the tapes and know what I have to do. I never felt this good when I was at 140 pounds.
“My trainer, John David Jackson, was one of the best defensive southpaws in the game and he’s got me slippin’ and slidin’ in the ring like I never have before. I’ve fought a rack of southpaws so it shouldn’t be a problem (facing Alexander). I fought three southpaws back-to-back-to-back (DeMarcus “Chop Chop’’ Corley, Francisco Figueroa and Juan Urango) in late 2008 and 2009.
“Talk’s cheap. I don’t take things personally. I fight, that’s what I do. I’m trying to tell you, this (guy) is perfect for me. I don’t know what they’re thinking in St. Louis, but it isn’t going to be easy like they think.”
Alexander, a former World Boxing Council (WBC) and IBF 140-pound world champion, is making his second start at welterweight. In his debut in the weight class, the world-class boxer-puncher won a one-sided 10-round decision over Marcos Maidana this past Feb. 25.
“I love fighting at 147. It’s awesome. I feel so much stronger and have so much more energy,” said Alexander, who turned pro in 2004. “I don’t have to struggle as much and I don’t have to worry about draining myself. I outgrew the 140-pound weight class. You definitely haven’t seen the best of me at 147. There are a lot of action-packed opponents at 147. It’s going to be interesting.”
Alexander says to expect a varied attack. “I’m going to be versatile in this fight,” he said. “I can come forward, box and use my power. I plan to do a lot of things. I don’t think I have to prove anything. I just need to continue to win. People have always had high expectations of me since I started coming up as a prospect. It’s strange how things go. People were highest on me at a time when I was having all the weight problems. Now, it is almost like starting over and I have to make my mark at 147.”
The 25-year-old Alexander, whose lone blemish on his record is a loss to Timothy Bradley, fought once on SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING and twice on ShoBox: The New Generation. “I won my first title on SHOWTIME when I knocked out Junior Witter (TKO 8 on Aug. 1, 2009). It was on SHOWTIME that I first made my mark.
“I hope to make a mark again. We definitely saw Bailey’s fight against Jones. It’s the reason we made the fight. Bailey is a suitable opponent. Jones fought scared the whole fight against him and it made for an ugly fight. Fighting scared against a guy who’s throwing five to six punches a round? I’m just going to go to work and do what I do. I’m really looking forward to this fight.
“I really don’t know why he’s saying what he’s saying. I haven’t disrespected him. I haven’t done anything to his family. This is the wrong sport in which to have a chip on your shoulder. You can’t take it into the ring. You’ve got to have discipline. I guess he’s angry about taking this fight or maybe he’s trying to hype himself to fight. I don’t care.”
Bailey showed why he is regarded as one of the most prolific one-punch knockout artists in history in his last start on June 9 when he dramatically rallied from the brink of defeat to render previously unbeaten Mike Jones unconscious in the 11th round to capture the IBF 147-pound title. After nine rounds, Bailey was losing by the scores of 90-81, 89-82 and 88-83, but he scored a knockdown in the 10th with the great equalizer – the right hand – and another in the 11th with a right uppercut. Jones was counted out at 2:52 and a spectacular Bailey knockout victory was in the books.
“It’s been such a long road, I really wanted to win a world title again,” said Bailey, a former WBO and WBA Interim super lightweight titleholder who’ll be entering the ring on Sept. 8 as a defending world champion for the first time since 1999. “I went through a lot of nonsense and hardship for a long time. It was really frustrating. I hung around at 140 a lot longer than I wanted because I wanted a title shot, but I didn’t argue when it never came. I just stayed steady, fought who they put in front of me and got the job done.”
Bailey, who knocked out Carlos “Bolillo” Gonzalez to capture the WBO title on SHOWTIME in May 1999 and made his first two defenses on the network, knows he’ll have to let his fists fly significantly more often than he did against Jones. He thinks he’ll benefit from facing a shorter man this time around. Bailey is 5’9”, an inch taller than Alexander.
“I know I have to throw more punches and definitely be busier,” Bailey said. “He’s going to require that. Alexander isn’t nearly as tall as Jones, a big guy who uses his height well. l have what I have, the punching power to catch guys, and Jones left the door open for me. I knew I was losing the whole fight. My corner was cussing me out between every round to get busy, but I got the job done.
“No one gave me a chance against Jones and no one is giving me a chance again, but I’m prepared and I’ve done my homework. Devon is in for a rude awakening. He’s smaller than me. If I have to walk him down and throw caution to the wind, I will. I won’t wait to counter. They’re saying he’ll go to my body. If that’s what they want, be my guest, but I’m not buying it. He won’t stay in front of me. Just like Jones until he got caught, he won’t want me to get close. I hit too hard and one punch is all it takes.”
Since December 2004, Bailey has knocked down 16 of his 18 opponents – seven were on the canvas two times, and one was decked five times. A pro since 1996, Bailey will turn 38 five days after the fight.
“I’m looking forward to an early birthday present,” he said. “The odds will be against me, but I am going to knock out Alexander like I did Jones.
“Believe me, I jumped at this opportunity. When we were promoted by the same promoter years ago, I asked for the fight, but they said no. When this fight gets out of hand, I know Kevin’s not going to let his kid get messed up. Any fight I’m in, if it gets rough, it gets rough, I’m not backing down. They’ve spoon-fed these guys to a world title, but he’s running into a bad man. I’m going to bust his butt. Fight night can’t come soon enough for me.’’