ST. CHARLES, Mo. (AP) – Devon Alexander is still fighting in the main event, even without a world title.
The former junior welterweight champion will return to the ring against hard-hitting Lucas Matthysse on Saturday night at The Family Arena in St. Charles, Mo.
Unbeaten champion Tavoris Cloud defends his light heavyweight title against Yusaf Mack, and Cornelius Bundrage defends his junior middleweight belt in a rematch against Sechew Powell in the undercard fights. But it’s Alexander who is headlining the show.
The popular native of St. Louis is trying to rebound from his first career loss.
“You see, this is the ‘Show Me State,'” the bombastic King said this week. “What does that mean? It means these fighters can talk all they want today, but come Saturday night they are going to have to show everyone what they are made of.”
Also on the undercard is cruiserweight prospect Ryan Coyne, hometown favorite and former champ Cory Spinks, and a heavyweight eliminator between Bermane Stiverne and Ray Austin.
“This is going to be a hell of a card,” said Eric Gomez of Golden Boy Promotions. “Sechew Powell is good, Tavoris is like a young Mike Tyson, I’ve been watching Bermane Stiverne for a long time, and I can’t wait for Saturday night.
“This is a truly historic card that Don King has put together.”
Yes, when it comes to doing big shows, King still has it.
He’s hoping that Alexander does, too.
Once touted as the next superstar, the slick-punching 140-pounder from the rough Hyde Park section of North St. Louis has a back story to go with his natural ability.
Alexander was 7 when he started boxing in the basement of the old police station. There were about other 30 boys with him that day, most of them close friends. By the time he won the WBC championship, at least eight of them had been killed and another 10 sent to prison — including his brother, Vaughn, convicted of robbery among other things.
It’s precisely the kind of despair from which boxing often provides an escape.
Alexander rose quickly through the amateurs and rattled off victory after victory once he turned pro, beating elite veterans like DeMarcus Corley along the way. He captured the WBC title in only his 19th fight, when Junior Witter quit after the eighth round.
Alexander picked up the IBF version in his next fight, knocking out Juan Urango in the eighth round. And he defended both of the belts against Andriy Kotelnik.
Then he ran into Bradley, and his dreams hit a speed bump.
Facing the most talented opponent of his young career, Alexander struggled to adjust to Bradley’s speed and defense — and his wayward head-butts. The ringside doctor eventually ruled that Alexander couldn’t keep his left eye open and halted the fight at 1:59 of the 10th round after one last accidental head-butt, and the judges awarded Bradley the victory.
It was a disheartening loss for Alexander, particularly because of the way it ended.
Now, he’s trying to make amends.
“Lucas says he’s going to knock me out. The last guy that said that (Urango) got knocked out,” Alexander said. “Just like our T-shirts say, ‘R-E-D-E-M-P-T-I-O-N’ is going to happen.”
He could have picked an easier opponent for some redemption.
Matthysse may be one of the best fighters never to win a major title.
His only loss came to current champion Zab Judah, a fight in which Matthysse knocked down the former undisputed welterweight titleholder in the 10th round. The brash Argentine puncher wound up losing by a single point on a single scorecard, a fight many believe he won.
The unfavorable outcome sure hasn’t done much to dampen his confidence.
“Devon Alexander is nothing special as a fighter,” Matthysse said during his final open workout this week. “I plan on knocking him out.”
Copyright Associated Press