Amir Khan, Devon Alexander focused on their fight, not Mayweather
LOS ANGELES – Amir Khan and Devon Alexander thought they were in position to challenge Floyd Mayweather Jr. one year ago.
Khan, who was in talks to face Alexander on Dec. 7, 2013, was so sure he’d won the sweepstakes for Mayweather’s May 3 dance partner that he pulled out of the all-but-agreed-upon bout.
Alexander, who had been mentioned as a potential opponent by the pound-for-pound king and was viewed as a more credible B-side for Mayweather given that he held a major welterweight title, agreed to defend his IBF belt against Shawn Porter on Dec. 7. He dropped a unanimous decision to the unbeaten prospect, losing his title and any hope of facing Mayweather in 2014.
Both Khan and Alexander – who had to watch a guy they beat, Marcos Maidana, get two shots at Mayweather this year – admit that they got ahead of themselves at the end of 2013, a mistake they won’t make again.
The two former junior welterweight titleholders will finally meet in a scheduled 12-round welterweight bout on Dec. 13 at MGM Grand in Las Vegas. Khan signed the dotted line this time, and there’s no way Alexander will overlook the British star as he did then-under-the-radar Porter.
“This was a fight that was talked about when we were both at junior welterweight and it almost happened last year, but we’re here now and I know it’s going to be a good fight,” Khan said during the kick-off press conference on Tuesday at the Conga Room at L.A. LIVE.
Khan (29-3, 19 knockouts), who ended a 13-month layoff with a one-sided decision over former welterweight titleholder Luis Collazo on the undercard of Mayweather-Maidana I, says fans can expect an even better performance against Alexander.
“I’ve been in training camp more than I’ve been at home this year,” said the 2004 Olympic silver medalist who turns 28 on Dec. 8. “Alexander will be my second southpaw in a row, so it’s like I’m continuing the Collazo camp. I learned a lot in that camp and I’m still learning and correcting my mistakes.
“I’m going to be a different fighter on Dec. 13. I’ll be ready. Fans are going to love (this fight) because it’s (between) two fast, explosive fighters in their prime.
“There’s talk of Mayweather but my whole focus is on this fight. To get to the dream fights, I have to win this one.”
For Alexander (26-2, 14 KOs), the showdown with Khan is a dream fight.
The 27-year-old native of St. Louis, Missouri native has fought in several states and as far away as China but he’s never fought in Las Vegas as a pro. It’s something Alexander says he literally dreamed about when he first put on a pair of boxing gloves.
“I had this dream about fighting in a city filled with bright lights back when I was seven years old,” Alexander told the assembled boxing media at Tuesday’s presser. “I didn’t even know it was Las Vegas. It was just a special city with bright lights everywhere. I was in a big arena filled with fans, and Sugar Ray Leonard and Mike Tyson were in the audience, cheering me on. And I won the fight.”
Twenty years later, Alexander still dreams about the adulation, recognition and respect. He’s won two world titles at junior welterweight, one at welterweight, and he’s had his share of impressive victories, including the most dominant decision anyone has ever scored against Maidana, but he dreads being defined by his losses.
Alexander knows he could have earned pound-for-pound status had he won his showdown with Tim Bradley in January 2011, and he believes he would have received the opportunity to prove he’s an elite boxer had he beat Porter.
Alexander’s trainer Kevin Cunningham, who started him out in the sport, says he’s never seen him as focused as he is for the Khan fight.
“This is one he wants, I see something in his eyes with this one,” said Cunningham, who expects Khan to be just as intense as his fighter given the setbacks the Bolton, England native has suffered in recent years.
“Both need a win like this to catapult them to a Mayweather or Pacquiao situation,” he said. “Devon’s been right there, on the cusp, on a few occasions.”
Alexander says he’ll get over the hump with this fight.
“I want to welcome you all to my graduation to the big time,” he said when he took to the podium on Tuesday. “This is my coming out party. It was a lot of work and sacrifice to get to this position. I don’t plan on going back. There’s no going back.”
Khan’s trainer Virgil Hunter isn’t sure what to expect from Alexander but he knows the southpaw will bring his A-game.
“You can’t predict what a fighter as talented as Devon is going to do in a fight,” said Hunter, who has trained Khan for his last three bouts, “you just have to prepare for everything.”
The matchup is an even one on paper.
Both boxers are battle tested. Khan has faced eight opponents who have held world titles. Alexander has faced nine. Both have been in with a variety of styles, including common opponents, such as Maidana and former WBA 140-pound beltholder Andreas Kotelnik. Alexander generally does well against sluggers and punchers. Khan tends to excel against boxers and technicians.
Both boxers are gifted with fast hands and above-average power.
Golden Boy Promotions vice president Eric Gomez put on his matchmaker hat to analyze what he expects to be a quality fight.
“Amir is always aggressive with a lot of speed,” Gomez told RingTV.com. “He’s got good legs and moves around a lot. But Devon is also fast and he’s got good head movement.
“If Devon can time Amir it’s a tough night for Khan. If Amir can get his jab working, move around Devon and keep him at a distance, it’s a tough night for Alexander. It’s just a matter of who can strike first.”
Khan-Alexander tops a Showtime Championship Boxing tripleheader that is co-featured by the return of undefeated welterweight contender Keith Thurman.
THE RING’s No. 7-rated welterweight takes on unbeaten European champ Leonard Bundu, who is making his U.S. debut.
In the opening bout of the broadcast, undefeated WBO junior middleweight titleholder Demetrius Andrade defends his 154-pound title against Jermell Charlo. Andrade is THE RING’s No. 4-rated junior middleweight. Charlo is rated No. 6 by the magazine.
Former titleholders Abner Mares and Victor Ortiz will be featured on the undercard. Their bouts will most likely be part of a Showtime Extreme broadcast that leads into the tripleheader on Showtime.
Email Fischer at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter at @dougiefischer