It might be the most important fight of Alexander's career up to this point.
The boxing industry is about as fickle as this year's GOP presidential primary race. Alexander knows this well. Less than two years ago he was billed as a future star, a standout member of the generation of light-to-welterweight boxers primed to duke it out for the Pound for Pound throne once Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr. eventually ease into retirement or decline.
But things are different now. All it takes is one disappointing match for an up-and-coming boxer to get branded with the dreaded Second-Tier Fighter label. String together enough disappointments and that label becomes nearly impossible to shake. These disappointments usually involve a boxer showing that he lacks at least one of four traits: ability, heart, chin or appeal. Alexander's label is based on the terrifying possibility that he lacks the latter-- terrifying because it may be the most crucial one to have at a time when Premier League soccer gets more coverage than boxing on ESPN. Nowadays there's only enough room for a handful of boxing headliners.
Alexander is 24 years old and talented, but he is creeping toward the possibility of never becoming a pay-per-view main event fighter. His last three fights were a boring loss in a highly anticipated match (to Tim Bradley), and two controversial wins over good-but-not-great fighters (Lucas Matthysse and Andriy Kotelnyk) in which many believe Alexander needed the hometown advantage to eek out close decisions. The three fights had low-to-moderate attendance and excitement.
Maidana is in a similar, though slightly worse, position, along this edge between the boxing world's top tier and second tier. He lost the two biggest fights of his career (against Kotelnyk in 2009 and Amir Khan last December). And he looked slow and sloppy in an underwhelming majority decision over aging legend Erik Morales in April.
The contest would be each fighter's debut at welterweight, each having made successful runs in the junior welterweight class.
Boxing blogger David Kassel reported on Thursday that the deal for the fight has been finalized and that the fight will take place in St. Louis either on February 18 or 25. At this point, neither boxer is a lucrative draw outside of their respective homelands.
Both Alexander and Maidana can launch themselves right back into serious welterweight contention with an impressive win. Both can also permanently knock themselves out of the top-tier picture with a poor performance.
To rejuvenate his career, Alexander could use some fireworks. And Maidana will give him the chance for just that. Maidana will attack with loose but heavy hands, which should give Alexander a chance to showcase his technical skills without getting stuck in a defensive chess match. Alexander's chin will likely be tested; 28 of Maidana's 31 wins have come by knock out. Maidana is essentially a better, even more aggressive version of fellow-countryman Matthysse, whom some thought Alexander really lost to in June.
"If the fight does happen, the fans can expect an all-out war, because there won't be a whole lot of boxing and moving from Devon," Alexander's trainer Kevin Cunningham told The Ring magazine last week.
Sounds like just the kind of fight he needs.
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