by Charles Jay
Randall Bailey will, in all likelihood, defend his newly-won IBF welterweight title on September 8 when he takes on southpaw Devon Alexander. The network is Showtime, but a site has not been found, because although one might imagine somewhere in Missouri would be a natural destination, and as peripatetic as he’s been in his career, Bailey’s people don’t want their fighter facing Alexander, a St. Louis native, in the Show-Me State.
Matchups like this are the reason a lot of people watch boxing. One of the intriguing aspects of the sport is that styles make fights. That sounds like it’s a cliche, but it’s true. It’s why you can’t really say “A beat B, B beat C, therefore A beats C” with a whole lot of conviction.
Here we have a great clash of styles and capabilities.
Bailey is 37 years old, but as they say, a guy tends to retain his power. And with his punch, Bailey is the ultimate “don’t go to the refrigerator” fighter. He’s shown that time and again, most recently against Mike Jones, who he destroyed virtually out of nowhere. He is living proof that if you can crack, you’re always going to be in the hunt. And you can keep yourself in the title picture as well; Bailey won his first championship back in 1999, when he blew out Bolillo Gonzalez in one round, and now, thirteen years later, he was won a belt for the third time, .even though he’s had seven losses in between.
But does he have some trouble with boxers who know what they’re doing? Well, we are not going to call that a massive understatement, but he has never been immune to being outclassed.
Does his September 8 foe have enough class?
Alexander is clearly the boxer in this matchup; the slick guy, if you will. He is the fighter who’ll be applying the finesse. Will something like that prove to be like “kryptonite” for Bailey? Alexander bounced back from his loss to Timothy Bradley with wins over Lucas Matthysse (albeit a disputed one) and Marcos Maidana (a near-shutout). Those guys were punchers with 54 KO’s in their 59 combined wins at the time they fought Alexander. So he’s managed to handle people with that kind of attack blueprint.
This is one of those fights where the game plan of each fighter would appear not to have a lot of mystery surrounding it.
Alexander’s people claim that they aren’t simply looking to win a decision, and maybe that’s true. His plan would be to confound Bailey with speed, piling up points early in the fight, all the while trying to avoid Bailey’s monster right hand. He doesn’t want to give him that one big shot that can change things in an instant, and so he doesn’t want Bailey to be able to get set and punch. So he’s got to keep his man off-balance.. He may have enough of a speed advantage to do that, at least for a while. If he does that on a consistent basis, he may just be able to get Bailey “sleepwalking” in the late going and score the stoppage his people have been talking about. Remember that Bailey wasn’t exactly a busy beaver against Jones before taking him out. In fact, though an exaggeration of sorts, Emanuel Steward remarked to the HBO PPV audience that the straight right that put Jones down in the tenth and the uppercut that ended it in the 11th were the only two punches he landed in the fight.
As mentioned, this shapes up as a tremendous contrast in styles, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it is going to wind up being a great action fight. A lot depends on Bailey,. If Alexander is able to befuddle Bailey, it could wind up being a lousy fight, as Bailey could be following him around the ring aimlessly. Sometimes that happens when you have the pure boxer going up against the pure puncher, and the pure puncher is loading up for one shot. .
The beauty of Bailey, however, is that if he is able to land cleanly, that’s when the fun begins. His game plan is a little simpler than Alexander. He’s looking to land the right hand and end it, or at the very least hurt Alexander and take his heart away so that he can end it later. At the same time, if Alexander devotes all his energy to staying out of the way of the right hand, he should be reminded that Bailey carries a left hook too. Diobelys Hurtado could’ve told you that, from some early shots he took before taking Bailey out, and if you can’t reach him you can ask somebody like Sugar Jackson, who got hit with a few wicked ones when he got stopped in a single round a couple of years ago.
There’s more intrigue than that, however. Alexander tends to be a bit mechanical, so he might tend to fall into a pattern where he can be timed. Also, as they get deeper into the fight, Alexander’s punches will lose some zip.
Meanwhile, while we’ve seen Bailey blow people out right away, we also know that he has late power. So Alexander might have a huge challenge holding him off if he’s throwing pity-pat punches. And we don’t see a strong possibility that he’ll have put together a big body attack, something Bailey is potentially vulnerable to. Is it an inevitability that Bailey will catch up to him? His promoter, Lou DiBella, thinks so, which is why he’s so confident that Bailey will knock him out, no matter when or where (except Missouri, of course).
Does Alexander have enough savvy to leave Bailey without his main strength? Will either man have to reach out for a Plan B? If so, will they know how to execute it?
This matchup truly arouses some curiosity. And that’s why we watch the fights.