The proverbial puncher's chance is all Randall Bailey has on Saturday night. He'll face a far more skilled and physically gifted southpaw in Devon Alexander at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. Skill sets aside, the puncher's chance is a bit of a joke—until the puncher lands the blow.
Conventional wisdom says Bailey will be severely outboxed, even though he's the defending IBF champion. He picked up the vacant title by scoring a stunning KO over Mike Jones. Who? Mike Jones. Who? Mike Jones.
Jones had outpointed Bailey throughout the entire fight, but he got careless in the 10th round. Bailey caught him with a vicious right hand that changed the night. Jones seemed to gather himself in the 11th round, but Bailey landed a more devastating right uppercut, and it was over.
Just like that, Bailey became a world champion. Here's a look at the sequence:
Alexander has undoubtedly seen this footage plenty of times, or at least enough to be aware of Bailey's power. Will he take heed?
He is 23-1, with his only loss coming by technical decision in his fight with Timothy Bradley in January of 2011. The fight went to the scorecards after an "accidental" head butt, and Alexander came out on the short end.
Ever since then, I question his confidence. He's struggling to regain it, but I wonder if that struggle will get in the way of his better judgement. Will he be too aggressive and put himself in unnecessary harm's way?
Here's how to find out:
When: Saturday, October 20, 9 p.m. ET
Where: Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York
Live Stream: Showtime Anytime (Pay Service)
The Book on Bailey
What Bailey doesn't have in pure boxing acumen, he attempts to compensate for in experience, power and heart. He's got plenty of the three. He's been fighting since 1996, and this will be his 51st professional fight.
He's 43-7, and 37 of those wins have come by KO. This is a big-time puncher that will test the chin of anyone he connects with. This video of Bailey's clash with Francisco Figueroa is evidence of his less-than-stellar boxing skills, but also his tremendous power. You can observe the former throughout the first part of the video, but if you want to skip to the thunder, it begins at the 6:15 mark:
The fight against Jones was a pure test of his perseverance. At 38 years old, he could have easily said: I just can't beat this kid. He's too fast, too long and too young.
Instead, he stuck it out and took advantage of two huge opportunities late.
That said, Alexander is an even slicker boxer than Jones. Jones looked terrible in the fight, even when he was seemingly on his way to victory. Though the ending was exciting, it was one of the least impressive title-winning performances you'll see.
He'll need a much better showing in this one, or a repeated display of poor judgement by his opponent.
The Book on Alexander
He has been looked at as part of the future of the welterweight division for at least four years. His 23-1 record is a good representation of the type of fighter he is. At 25 years old, he still has time to become who many thought he'd be in the sport.
He doesn't bring a ton of power to the table. He has only 13 KOs in his career, but he's fast and fundamentally sound.
His defense isn't quite as sharp as it needs to be. He trades too often when he has a clear speed advantage, and he doesn't have a distance-keeping jab.
You can see that in this video of his fight with Lucas Matthysse. This fight was a controversial split-decision win for Alexander, but I thought Matthysse deserved the decision. You can also see in the post-fight interview that Larry Merchant should never be allowed in the ring to talk to fighters.
Alexander went down in the fourth round, and Matthysse handily won the final round. Still, one judge scored the fight 96-93 for Alexander.
Is this fight a good indication of what we can expect to see when Alexander faces Bailey? Possibly, but I will say Matthysse is a superior boxer to Bailey. He counters better and has better defense.
His power isn't quite on Bailey's level, but it is formidable. One thing to watch in this fight is to see what Alexander has learned from this bout. It appears he built on the performance, as he completely outboxed Marcos Rene Maidana in his last fight.
Can he dominate Bailey, or will he be KO'd?
Alexander still feels that he has something to prove, and that could be dangerous for him in this fight. Bailey can end it with one punch, and I predict something like that will happen.
Alexander is the better fighter here, that's no question. However, he is seeking public approval and trying to prove his toughness. This is the wrong guy to fight this way, especially when you're not bringing big enough guns to the battle.
I predict another stunning KO win for Randall Bailey.
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