By Jake Donovan
With less than a month to go before fight night, the September 8 Showtime doubleheader is still in search of a home.
The show’s headliner is a welterweight title fight between recently crowned titlist Randall Bailey and top contender Devon Alexander. The instructions from Bailey’s camp of “anywhere but St. Louis” – Alexander’s hometown - have proven problematic.
San Antonio joins Memphis as major American cities unable to house the event, after having been prematurely announced as the leading candidate. A deal was thought to be in place, but would have required the Showtime televised date moved back two weeks to September 22.
Showtime was unwilling to accommodate the request, of the belief that it was more important to preserve the date and not keep fighters on standby for the sake of securing a location.
The September 8 slot also allows the network to promote its big card the following week on September 15, when Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez takes on Josesito Lopez. A boxing-themed lead-in one week prior is crucial to the promotion, rather than just presenting a straight preview show without the accompaniment of live boxing action.
The decision functionally killed whatever plans were in place to relocate the show to Texas, as the September 8 date presents a conflict with the targeted venue. It also ruined plans for a potential formal announcement to have come last weekend.
Elements of Golden Boy Promotions' company were in town for a Telefutura show headlined by Bryan Vera’s second win against Sergio Mora in as many tries. The plan was for Golden Boy to return a month later and once again partner up with Leija Battah Promotions – the on-site promoter for the aforementioned Telefutura card who would have handled all of the details for next month’s show as well.
The bad news comes two weeks after Memphis – the originally targeted location – was scratched off the list. Most agreed that Bluff City would have been ideal for both fighters, but presents a major conflict as it hosts the annual Southern Heritage Festival at that time. The entire city shuts down for the weekend in honor of the festival, which this year is held from September 7-9.
Several other southeastern cities have been scouted as potential alternatives, but no firm leading candidate presently exists among the lot.
Bailey (43-7, 37KO) won the vacant title in June with a come-from-behind 11th round knockout of Mike Jones on the undercard of Tim Bradley’s upset of Manny Pacquiao. The 37-year old became a two-time titlist, with his reigns separated by more than a decade. His first defense was lined up quick enough, but Bailey was adamant about not having to travel to Alexander’s hometown, especially since the opponent was suggested (if not forced upon him) and not mandated by a sanctioning body.
Alexander (23-1, 13KO) has won two straight since last year’s disappointing loss to Tim Bradley. Three of his last four bouts have taken place in or near his St. Louis hometown. Two of the bouts featured controversial decisions, including last year’s 10-round over Lucas Matthysse, who faces Ajose Olusegun in the televised feature for this card.
Both bouts pit Golden Boy Promotions fighters (Alexander and Matthysse) versus boxers from DiBella Entertainment’s stable (Bailey and Olusegun), though the former has been left with the exclusive burden finding a home for the show.
With less than four weeks to go before fight night, time is running out for a proper promotion of the event – which at this point would mean any promotion at all.
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com. Follow Jake on Twitter: @JakeNDaBox