Award-winning St. Louis-Post Dispatch columnist Bernie Miklasz interviewed fellow St. Louis-area fighters Devon Alexander and Ryan Coyne on his top-rated “The Bernie Miklasz Show” on 101 ESPN recently. He explores many topics with the prizefighters, including the decision to train in Colorado Springs for their June 25 appearances at The Family Arena in St. Charles, Mo.
Bernie Miklasz: This is a big opportunity fighting for the WBA cruiserweight championship of the world. Ryan, this is really exciting. We’ve caught a couple of your fights and the fact you’re on a world championship card like this with a shot at a title, you’ve got to be pretty thrilled. You’ve come a long way in a relatively short time.
Ryan Coyne: “Thanks, Bernie, I appreciate that. This is a huge opportunity, the opportunity of a lifetime. I knew this fight was coming the day that I signed with Don King, the second I cracked the top 10 with the WBA in the rankings in the world. I knew this was going to be an opportunity. Did I know it was going to land literally in my back yard? I’d be lying to you if I told you that. This is just a huge opportunity to fight for the world title literally four miles from the house that I grew up in, so I plan on making the most of it.
Bernie Miklasz: This is actually your home arena, you have had fights their [The Family Arena in St. Charles, Mo.] before, correct?
Ryan Coyne: “Yes, I have it’s funny you ask that. I actually won my very first professional fight in that very building, won my last Golden Gloves championship when I was still an amateur in that building. I fought in there a couple of times and this is almost too good to be true in some sense. An opportunity doesn’t mean anything if you can’t capitalize on it. I plan to parlay this into something much bigger. I’m very excited.
Bernie Miklasz: Tell us about your opponent [WBA Cruiserweight ChampionsGuillermo Jones].
Ryan Coyne: “He [Guillermo Jones] is a very, very good champion, very good fighter. He’s almost so good that he’s a victim of his skills. He’s very big, very strong. He’s so good that a lot of guys don’t want to fight him. A lot of guys will look to circumvent taking a fight with him to take on an easier guy. Of all the champions in the division—in today’s state of boxing obviously there are a couple of champions out there—but he is probably the most dangerous of the champions out there—the least lucrative and the most dangerous. I have a mammoth task in front of me to dethrone this guy. He is a little bit older, he has not been very active, but a lot of that comes from guys that will do anything they can to just not get in the ring with him.
“I got into this game for one reason and one reason only and that was to become world champion. These opportunities don’t knock on your door everyday, so the second Don [King] called me and asked if I wanted this fight it wasn’t ‘how much am I getting paid’ or ‘where is it going to be’ or anything like that, the answer was simply ‘yes’ let’s make it happen. I’ve got to fight an A plus game to beat this man on June 25.”
Bernie Miklasz: Devon is trying to rebound from a disappointing night against Timothy Bradley. Still one of the top 140-pound fighters in the world, Devon’s got a tough customer coming up on June 25. Lucas Matthysse is known as a pretty heavy puncher, a dangerous guy. What things have you been concentrating on to make sure you don’t have a bad night again?
Devon Alexander: “As I look at the fight [with Tim Bradley], I’m the one that didn’t follow the game plan. I’m the one who didn’t listen to my corner. Timothy Bradley didn’t do anything my coach didn’t say he was going to do. I didn’t follow the game plan. I just went out there and fought his fight, let him walk to me and just do what he wanted to do. I let him come in there head butting. I let him control the fight. The Timothy Bradley fight was all my mistake. It wasn’t nothing nobody did, it wasn’t nothing that I couldn’t do, so I take full responsibility and I definitely learned from that. I’m listening and now it’s time to go back to work.”
Bernie Miklasz: Give us a scouting report on your opponent [Lucas Matthysse]. I have not seen him but I’ve read about him. Everybody says Lucas Matthysse is a tough guy who’s a hard hitter.
Devon “The scouting report is right, what you’ve been reading. People say he [Matthysse] is a hard puncher. He’s going to be coming to fight for the whole 12 rounds throwing hard punches. But you know what, Bernie? Everybody in this game can fight. Everybody hits hard and everybody can fight. They said that about [Juan] Urango, ‘He’s a hard puncher and I need to watch out.’ This is a comeback fight for me. This fight, I don’t care if he has the power of Mike Tyson, it’s going to be a spectacular performance for me.”
Bernie Miklaz: Devon traditionally trains in Las Vegas. What was it about Colorado Springs that made you think this was the best place to train for both of your upcoming fights?
Ryan Coyne: “One word, simply, altitude. Credit here all goes to Kevin Cunningham [manager and trainer of Devon Alexander]. He uses strength training coach Matt Brown, who’s actually also my strength and conditioning coach, who is working with Devon as well, so it’s a happy marriage. When it was time to go to camp, Kevin said, ‘We’re going to Colorado Springs. There is no air up there boys, so if you can’t get in shape there you can’t be in shape anywhere.’ We’re at 8500-feet elevation here. Some of the training I’m doing up here is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do in my life.”
Bernie Miklasz: Do you like training in Colorado better than in Las Vegas, Devon?
“Compared to Las Vegas, definitely. The air is definitely different up here. Colorado has much less air and more altitude. You can walk up the steps and get winded. This is definitely going to be a good camp for me. This is going to get me to go 12 hard and strong rounds.”
Bernie Miklasz: Do you think you are going to sneak up on a few people, surprise those who underestimate you?
Ryan Coyne: “Absolutely. Right now I’m ranked No. 8 in the world with the WBA, and there are a lot of people who would like to have the shot I’m getting. My concern is to be as prepared as possible. I have traveled all over the world, training with some of the best fighters out there because I knew that this day was coming and I’m going to surprise and shock the world when I get the chance to do this. I’m truly blessed to be here and I plan on making the most of it.”
Bernie Miklasz: Knowing your background and everything you’ve overcome and the people who doubted you, I think you welcome the opportunity to prove people wrong this time, Devon.
“Most definitely. I always accept every challenge from anybody. The Tim Bradley fight is going to have people thinking they can come in and just do whatever [with me], but that’s OK. Like I said, in the Bradley fight I beat myself. I didn’t do what I was supposed to do. It wasn’t like Bradley came in and dominated the fight. He didn’t dominate the fight. I think it was a controversial decision myself, but, all in all, he won. And now it’s going down for me again on June 25.”
Bernie Miklasz: “The whole town of St. Louis will be behind this event. I think Devon’s been downgraded a little bit by the national media—I think maybe they hyped him up too much. He had a very disappointing night [against Bradley]. I think the moment might have been a little too big for him especially with Timothy Bradley. Bradley is a guy who comes out and head butts you and I could see where a young fighter—[Devon] has never had to deal with that before—kind of took him off his game big time. But he’s hungry and he’ll go after it.
“You better watch out for Ryan Coyne. Don King’s behind him and he’s a crowd pleaser. Ryan Coyne comes out and throws punches, there’s nothing finesse about him, so the former football player—now a good boxer—is going to take a title shot on June 25. This is going to be a good card. I’m looking forward to it, looking forward to covering it.”