Devon Alexander is not fighting for a title, but for something much greater, his reputation.
The young light welterweight star with the WBC and IBF titles had a chance to be the sports next big star. His nickname was “The Great” as a play off his last name.
But Alexander had a reputation-killing loss to Cathedral City boxer Timothy Bradley in a unification bout in January, where he was accused of quitting and not showing up to fight. From future star to fraud.
Alexander will step back into the ring on Saturday night against the dangerous Lucas Matthysse on HBO. Matthysse has a sold veteran with several big names on his resume, including IBF champion Zab Judah. It’s a good opponent for Alexander to exorcise some demons from his lone loss.
But if Alexander does lose, he could find himself years away from another title shot.
What people forget is that Alexander is a young fighter who skyrocketed to the title. His maturity level didn’t match his status, which Bradley exposed. Alexander came in overconfident, and his camp all agreed he failed to execute the game plan. He thought it would be an easy night, but Alexander never came up with an answer for Bradley’s constant pressure.
“I want to show people why I was considered one of the best at 140 pounds,” Alexander said, “and I want those people who believed in me to know that they were not wrong.
“I am one of the most capable and dangerous fighters in the division, a former unified world champion that wants to return to the top. My goal is to prove my greatness and be International Boxing Hall of Fame material before I hang up my gloves.”
Alexander’s trainer, Kevin Cunningham, has faith in his 24-year-old former champion.
“I’m not too concerned because it’s not like Devon got beat up against Bradley,” Cunningham said. “He just didn’t do as well as he should have.
“Now he has the man I believe is the most dangerous at 140 pounds in front of him on Saturday night, this kid from Argentina, Lucas Matthysse, so this is an opportunity for Devon to answer any questions about how good he can be. I believe he will shine.”
Fact is, a loss to Bradley is not bad. Bradley is one of the top-10 pound-for-pound fighters in the world. Former Bradley victims, like Kendall Holt and Lamont Peterson, continue to make noise.
But the loss revealed some ugly things about Alexander. So Saturday will be a chance to prove the who the real Alexander is.
If Alexander wins, he will stay in the mix of the hottest division in all of boxing. A case can be made for Alexander to fight against the loser of the Amir Khan-Zab Judah unification fight. Or he could get the winner if the Khan-Bradley fight fails to be made again.
A loss, and Alexander’s reputation could be DOA.