By Jake Donovan
Don’t mistake Devon Alexander’s silence during trash talk wars as a sign of fear. Nor should it be assumed that trainer Kevin Cunningham’s overactive mouth is false bravado. The formula is part of the long standing relationship between fighter and trainer that for years has worked so well.
Team Alexander has been firing on all cylinders for the rescheduled October 20 showdown with Randall Bailey, who makes the first defense of the welterweight belt he won this past June. The bout – once a Showtime main event before it was postponed – is now part of a quadrupleheader the network has planned, which airs live from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY.
Cunningham has traded barbs with Bailey through the media, while Alexander has remained tucked away working hard in the gym. In other words, it’s business as usual on their side.
“Me and my coach have a beautiful relationship. Whatever he says I agree with 100%,” Alexander says in the days leading up to his welterweight title challenge against Bradley. “I will talk but the point is that me and Bailey are getting in the ring, and these hands are doing the talking. You can say what you want to say, but you still have to get in the ring.”
Bailey has said plenty, though mostly in the direction of – and in response to - Alexander’s vocal head trainer and father figure. The defending titlist insists the trash talk isn’t getting to him, but the fact that he even reciprocates is viewed by Team Alexander as the beginning of the end of his title reign.
“He’s way out of his element when he engages in trash talk with me,” states Cunningham, the only trainer Alexander has known, pro or amateur. “I handle everything outside the ring; Devon handles everything inside the ring. I do what I do, Devon does what he does and that’s what you do as a team. On fight night, Devon has to do his job. This is a business as much as it is boxing.”
Alexander is attempting to win his third belt spanning two weight classes, having spent a tour as a unified titlist at 140 before falling short to Tim Bradley last January for the lone defeat of his career.
His welterweight debut came earlier this year, winning a 10-round decision over Marcos Maidana. There was plenty of talk prior that fight, but nothing like the buildup leading to this bout. The trash talk dated as far back as when the bout was scheduled to headline a September 8 card in Las Vegas, before Bailey pulled out due to injury.
The six-week delay only meant even more to read regarding this fight. While Alexander is normally reserved outside the ring, he’s getting a kick out of watching his opponent continue to engage in the war of words.
“It definitely is funny,” Alexander says, both of his opponent’s reaction and his own trainer’s verbal barbs. “My coach knows what he’s doing and I’m definitely with him 100%. This is the entertainment field and you got to make people want to see the fight. My coach is out there promoting the fight.”
In that regard, Team Alexander feels like its job is done and that Bailey should be grateful rather than upset over anything being said.
“The past few months, I’ve promoted Randall Bailey more than he’s been promoted his entire career,” Cunningham theorizes.
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com. Follow Jake on Twitter: @JakeNDaBox