Devon Alexander will make the first defense of the welterweight title he won from Randall Bailey.
Since winning the IBF welterweight title from Randall Bailey last October at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, Devon Alexander (24-1, 13 KO) has seen more than one high-profile bout slip just outside his grasp.
He was supposed to be facing rising British star Kell Brook this Saturday night at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, but the bout, which had previously postponed on two separate occasions, was again put off as Brook had to withdraw with a stress fracture in his right foot.
Alexander had also previously been rumored to be in contention for a showdown with Floyd Mayweather before that fight was instead given to Robert Guerrero.
That leaves the IBF welterweight champion to face Lee Purdy instead in the televised co-feature of a Showtime card. Purdy (20-3-1, 13 KO) has never ventured outside the United Kingdom for a fight and is an unknown in the United States.
Read on for our preview and prediction of this IBF welterweight championship bout.
Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained first-hand by the writer.
Alexander has a tremendous edge in experience.
Devon Alexander has competed on a world-class level and has won world championships at junior welterweight and welterweight.
While he has only had one more professional fight than his opponent, the difference in competition is night and day. He fights in a tricky southpaw stance and likes to use distance to control the fight.
Lee Purdy, despite his 20 professional wins, hasn't really beaten anyone of consequence. He will be competing outside the United Kingdom for the first time and has never faced anyone the caliber or with the experience of Alexander.
24-1, 13 KO
20-3-1, 13 KOs
|Hometown:||St.Louis, Missouri||Colchester, England|
Alexander lost out on a higher profile challenge.
For Devon Alexander, the equation is pretty simple: Fight the guy in the ring.
It's easy to see how Alexander could be disappointed and discouraged with this fight. He was originally scheduled to face undefeated rising star Kell Brook in what would've been a substantially higher profile bout. He was also being linked to a possible bout with pound-for-pound king Floyd Mayweather before Money settled on Robert Guerrero.
Lee Purdy just doesn't provide the level of excitement or the importance that either of those other fights would have offered. Instead, this fight has just become one of those traps for Alexander that he'll need to navigate in order to keep his career on track.
Purdy is young and will be fighting outside the United Kingdom for the first time in his career. He had no amateur career and has absolutely nothing to lose, but everything to gain.
Devon Alexander is a slick, southpaw boxer with a tricky, if not terribly crowd-pleasing, style in the ring. He is most comfortable when he can control the distance of the fight and is an extremely talented fighter who excels in the technical aspects of the sport.
The St. Louis native is known for the fluidity with which he approaches his task in the ring and has exceptional footwork. He is well equipped to outbox most any opponent and can frustrate opponents with his safety-first style that leaves few openings for offense.
He will also look to give the fans something to cheer about.
"This is boxing, you have to be entertaining," said Alexander. "In this fight you have to be smart but you can do a little bit in this fight. I'm expecting an exciting fight."
Lee Purdy has made a lot out of a little. He is a conventional fighter who, despite his nickname of "Lights Out," doesn't have tremendous one-punch knockout power. He does enter the fight on a four-fight knockout streak, including most recently the terribly shopworn Cosme Rivera, but hasn't beaten anyone of consequence.
His biggest strength might be that he has nothing to lose.
Devon Alexander must be disappointed with this fight. It's nothing close to what he was hoping for and he must guard against a letdown.
He has shown an unfortunate propensity to lose focus in the past and that, combined with an opponent with nothing to lose, often spells upset.
When he does lose focus, he tends to leave himself open to punches that otherwise would never land. That could be a dangerous proposition against a fighter who is really an unknown on this type of stage.
Lee Purdy has never been here before and while it's not pay-per-view or anything of that sort, it's still the biggest stage of his career and his first trip across the pond. He has nothing in his resume that shows he's ready for a world-class boxer like Alexander.
Purdy's biggest win came over former world title challenger Cosme Rivera, whom he knocked out in his last bout. However, Purdy insists the lack of quality opposition and the hostile environment will not impact him on Saturday night.
“It doesn’t matter where the ring is in the world," Purdy said. "It’s the ring at the end of the day and Devon that’s going to be in front of me."
Devon Alexander will win if he simply takes care of business.
He's the overwhelming favorite in this bout, owing to his vast edge in experience and boxing ability. The worst thing he can do is take his opponent lightly or not seriously at all and go in there with his focus on someone else
That is something Alexander says he isn't worried about:
I'm a firm believer that things happen when they're supposed to happen. In boxing, whatever happens, it's supposed to happen. I'm fighting Lee Purdy for a reason.
Alexander likes to use his footwork and boxing ability to keep the fight at a distance where he's comfortable. He doesn't throw a ton of punches and his safety-first style isn't very pleasing to the crowd, but when he does connect, he is precise enough to score with them.
Look for him to try and outbox Purdy from the get-go and leave him few avenues to attack. Pretty or not, that's just Alexander's style.
Lee Purdy is just living the dream at this point.
He's young, unknown and fighting for a world championship as the co-feature of a Showtime card televised worldwide. It's the opportunity of a lifetime for him and one that doesn't come around every day.
To win this fight, Purdy will need to crack inside Devon Alexander's usually solid defense. If Devon gets lazy and loses focus, which has been a big problem for him throughout his career, that could give Purdy opportunities to get on the inside and land shots.
Purdy doesn't have the greatest punching power with 13 KO in 20 wins, but he is on a four-fight knockout stream. Granted, none of those fighters are on the par of Alexander, but stranger things have happened.
Purdy feels that his willingness to go all-out will make the difference:
I come to fight, three minutes of every round. And they're gonna expect me to put the pressure on Devon. I'm not gonna sit back and let Devon outbox me. I'm gonna put my heart and soul into this fight and come out victorious.
Alexander will win convincingly.
Devon Alexander is just too quick, too slick and too good for Lee Purdy. The Brit will come to fight for sure as he attempts to cash-in on what is possibly his one and only shot at glory.
Then again, better boxers than he—namely, Randall Bailey, Lucas Matthysse and Marcos Maidana—have been unable to crack through Alexander's defense and there is little reason to think Purdy will be the one to solve the riddle.
Motivation, and desperation, are both great qualities for a fighter to possess, but Lee Purdy will quickly discover that he's a few leagues out of his depth.
However, that doesn't mean Alexander is underestimating him:
I know he’s a tough cookie who is coming to take my belt. I’m 100 percent ready and 100 percent prepared for him.
Look for Alexander to employ a technically sound style, utilize his footwork to stay out of range and thoroughly outbox his younger opponent to win a clear, if not exciting, unanimous decision with the possibility of a late stoppage.
Kevin McRae is a featured columnist for Bleacher Report.