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Feature Story

Randall Bailey: “Alexander Ain’t an Elite Fighter”

Interview by Sam Geraci
Photos by Chris Cozzone

Randall “The Knock-Out King” Bailey (43-7, 37 KOs) will make the first defense of his IBF welterweight title against Devon “Alexander the Great” Alexander (23-1, 13 KOs) this Saturday at the inaugural night of boxing at the new Barclays Center.

Bailey – the former WBO jr welterweight champion – captured the vacant 147 pounds title back in June with a dramatic eleventh round knockout over previously unbeaten Mike Jones.

The Bailey vs. Alexander contest was originally slated for Saturday, September 8th but was postponed when Bailey suffered a back injury.

Before Saturday’s showdown with Alexander – also a former jr welterweight champion – Bailey discussed the matchup, his opinion of the “provocative” comments from Alexander’s trainer Kevin Cunningham, his upset victory over Mike Jones, his ” God-given gift” of a right hand with one punch knockout power and much more.

A lot has been made of your back injury that postponed the fight. What happened with your back and how is it now?

I’m okay now. I went back to the doctor, and he did some tests and showed me some techniques and ways to do some basic things to avoid injury. It was just a freak accident in sparring. I always spar with heavier guys, and a guy was coming down on me and the best I can describe it is that my hip slipped and came back in. It was painful and it took some time to heal, but I am ready.

You have never been known as a trash talker or someone who lets others get under your skin, but it appears that Alexander’s trainer Kevin Cunningham has pushed you to your limits. How do you feel about Cunningham and the way he has handled the build-up to the fight?

Cunningham is a character. I don’t pay too much attention to what he says; he amuses himself.

Has Cunningham bothered you?

No, he hasn’t bothered me. I just think he has a problem. He’s a clown to tell you the truth. I think he’s nervous because for the most part the only fighter he has is Alexander. Alexander has done well, but they are concerned because he has only done well because they have been picking the right fights for him. I know for a fact that Don King took good care of this

kid and was not putting him in harm’s way.

Do you think Alexander is overrated?

I don’t know how he or anyone is getting off saying he is an elite fighter. Elite fighters don’t struggle. Elite fighters don’t barely win fights. Elite fighters are not trying to get every fight in their hometown. Nobody should toot their own horn more than their fans do. You can’t talk about yourself more than the people do. Alexander ain’t an elite fighter.

How would you describe yourself as a fighter? Are you elite?

I would never rate myself like that. I like to fight; it’s simple. That was my whole point of getting into boxing—to fight. Fortunately, I was pretty good at it.

Do you think Alexander does anything well?

He makes a lot of noise.

Does he do anything well in the ring?

He makes a lot of noise when he throws punches. I wonder if he’s gonna be making noise when I hit him. He’s gonna be saying “ouch” (laughs).

What are Alexander’s major weaknesses that you can exploit?

I’ve been watching Alexander for a long time, but I really don’t think that anybody fights me like they fight anybody else. When I prepare, I just look at things my opponents do constantly. When I get in the fight, within the first 30 seconds of the first round, I know exactly what they want to do.

This fight, like all of your fights, is being hyped as a boxer vs. puncher matchup. In recent years, however, while working with John David Jackson as your trainer you have improved your left hand, your defense, and your overall movement. How has it been working with Jackson?

The bond we have is strong. My defense and my overall vision are just a lot better. I’m a lot more focused, and I can see a lot more happening. I’m catching more shots with my hands, and I’m seeing what’s happening before it happens.

Does the fact that Alexander is a southpaw affect the fight or your preparation?

It really doesn’t matter. He’s known for getting hit with right hands anyway; he gets hit a lot.

Besides trying to land the right hand, what are you going to do to beat Alexander?

When the bell rings, I’m walking straight to him and I’m not gonna give him a chance to run. He says he’s coming to fight, and we’re gonna see. We’re gonna go at it. He’s talking about the skills and all that, but when you’re in a fight skills don’t mean shit.

If Alexander’s so protected and gets hit with the right, why do you think they took the fight with you?

I think this was the only fight out there for him. I caught him on a whim; he didn’t have nobody to fight and I was ready to fight so we made it happen.

One common opponent that you and Alexander share is Juan Urango. Alexander knocked him out in the 8th but you were stopped in the 11th. What happened in your fight with Urango?

That was my last fight at 140 pounds and prior to the fight I was having weight problems; I was just too drained. I knew walking to the ring it was going to be a long night. When you’re drained and doing the legal thing, you aren’t going to blow up 20 or 30 pounds. I think I still came back at 147 pounds that night.

What do you mean by the legal thing? How are other fighters blowing up?

Honestly, I don’t know how they come back to that much weight. After a weigh-in, I use Pedialyte, Gatorade, and eat. That’s all. I don’t know or care anything about all of that other stuff.

Saturday’s card features four compelling world championship bouts plus an undercard of top New York fighters. What does it feel like to be part of such a big event?

There are a lot of good fights on the card, but you know, when my fight is over and my job is done, I keep it moving.

You are 39 years old and have been fighting for almost 17 years. What type of recognition do you think a win over Alexander coupled with your win over Mike Jones will bring you at this stage in your career?

I don’t know, and it really doesn’t matter. I’m not looking for recognition. When I go to the ring, I’m going to do a job that I signed to do. After that, I enjoy putting on a good fight for the fans and giving them what they want to see. At the end of the day, I’m just doing my job. I don’t really need a pat on the back; that’s what they pay me to do.

In my era, I never fought Zab Judah, Arturo Gatti, or Kostya Tsyzu or any of those guys. Because of that, I took a look at the game and realized it is what it is. At this point, I would never say I want to fight this person or that person. If the fight is available, I’ll take it.

Even though you say you don’t fight for recognition, in your hometown of Miami you are beloved. Why is that and how do you feel about the support?

I’m loved because I don’t run my mouth and I’m just a local, regular guy from the neighborhood. I have a lot of successful friends, and I’m just trying to earn and get mine as humbly as I can. I’m the same person I always was. I don’t look for the newspapers, but I appreciate all of the support.

That support was evident on “Randall Bailey Day” last year in Miami after you knocked out Mike Jones. How did winning this second title compare to winning your first?

You know, I didn’t feel any different, but I will say that the fight with Jones was really hyped and everything was so pumped for the event. To see the way things unfolded was remarkable. I knew eventually he would sit down in front of me and I would hit him. When I hit somebody, it’s over.

Some would argue, including myself, that you have the best right hand of your generation. Where does the power in right hand come from?

It’s a God-given gift. I always had it even as a kid fighting in the streets, but I crafted it in the gym. I can throw it from anywhere now, and during a fight I just got to get it in and it’s over. Everybody knows it’s coming, so I work to disguise it and to set it up.

Did you model your right hand after any fighters when you were coming up?

After I got into boxing, guys like Freddie Templeton, Uriah Grant, Sugar Baby Rojas, and Jose Ribalta took me under their wings when I was like fourteen and helped mold me as a fighter. When I met Tommy Brooks, he told me to throw the right while turning my back, and I would practice that everyday. It’s like first nature now. It’s like clockwork, and I have perfected it.

At 38 and fighting since you were fourteen, how do you stay sharp and motivated after all of these years?

My lifestyle is not that wild. I go out but it is at a limit. I’m not using drugs and all that stuff. I fought at 140 pounds for so long so moving up has only been better for me. All the way up until now, I didn’t know how hard I hit. Now I know. I actually feel it. After all of these years, I know what I am doing now.

How much longer do you intend to fight?

When I wake up and I say, “I’m done” or “I’m tired,” then I’m done. I don’t want to fight into my forties, and I always said I wouldn’t continue fighting if I lost ten fights.

Finally, as someone who has been in the game for decades and seen the ups and downs, what advice would you give to an up and coming fighter?

You got to be focused and you have to be disciplined. Things don’t always happen the way you want them to happen. Let the chips fall where they may.

Thanks champ.

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World championship boxing returns to Brooklyn for the first time since 1931 at the new Barclays Center this Saturday. The historic card is headlined by the rematch between unified jr welterweight champion Danny “Swift” Garcia against future Hall of Famer Erik “El Terrible” Morales.

The IBF welterweight championship bout between Devon Alexander and Randall Bailey is presented by Golden Boy Promotions in association with The Great Promotions and DiBella Entertainment.

The Bailey vs. Alexander championship contest will be part of an unprecedented four-title-fight telecast on SHOWTIME.

The SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING telecast begins live at 8p ET/PT (delayed on the West Coast).

And if you live in the New York City area, tickets are still available at the Barclays Center box office and all Ticketmaster outlets (including online).

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