By Jake Donovan
Sometimes the best fights come from desperation.
Devon Alexander and Jesus Soto-Karass are both at a point where winning is essential for the future of their career, while a loss could forever cast them off in a welterweight division already overflowing with talent. Only one will have the chance to move on as they square off in the opening leg of a Showtime-televised tripleheader Saturday evening at the StubHub Center in Carson, California.
Both are coming off of a loss, coming in separate cards in back-to-back weekends last December, and to two of the hottest young fighters in the game.
Alexander (25-2, 14KO) was more than a year into his second title reign in as many weight classes when he squared off versus unbeaten welterweight Shawn Porter last December. A win for Alexander would have kept his name afloat in the Floyd Mayweather sweepstakes – even if as a longshot to land such a fight. The night instead served as a breakout showcase for Porter, who sparkled in a unanimous decision win to claim the title.
Soto-Karass (28-9-3, 18KO) has yet to even fight for a full version of a world title, much less enjoy the chance to win – or lose – a belt. The veteran welterweight gatekeeper has led a career filled with ups and downs, doing just enough to resurface every time the industry is ready to write him off.
The latest instance came in his 2013 campaign, rebounding from a heartbreaking 8th round stoppage loss to Marcos Maidana to score upset wins over Selcuk Aydin and Andre Berton. The feats led to a showdown with rising American welterweight Keith Thurman, who stopped Soto-Karass in the 9th round of an action-packed war amidst the best televised card of 2013 last December in San Antonio.
It says a lot of both combatants that they’re willing to face each other tonight, given what’s at stake, which is nothing other than bragging rights. The bout is scheduled for 10 rounds, with no guarantee that the winner lands a title shot or even a big fight in his next ring appearance.
Read on to see how the staff at Boxingscene.com believes will the action will play out.
BOXINGSCENE.COM STAFF PREDICTIONS: DEVON ALEXANDER vs. JESUS SOTO-KARASS
“A must win for the 27-year-old and arguably needs to look impressive in doing so. Soto-Karass will always make for a nice addition to any undercard but he's going to be chasing Alexander all night in this one. Both may have had six-month lay-offs but I'm banking on Alexander's superior abilities to see him through to a comfortable decision.”
- Shaun Brown (Alexander by decision)
“Rugged come forward brawlers seem to be the type of fighter that Devon Alexander looks best against when looking back at his fights against Maidana and Urango. I don't think Devon stops Soto-Karass but I feel he will win a wide decision.”
- Ryan Burton (Alexander by decision)
“To paraphrase "The Wire's" Stringer Bell, this fight is boxing's equivalent of a 40-degree day. Devon Alexander takes a decision over Jesus Soto-Karass in a fight that is forgotten about by night's end.”
- Jake Donovan (Alexander by decision)
“If Alexander wants to maintain a spot among the big boys at 147 pounds, this is a fight he can't lose. Soto-Karass is a tough guy and out-endures a lot of lesser foes in the weight class, but "The Great" has showed in the past that he's a rung above the Andre Berto level. It's one thing to get outworked by a young hungry guy like Shawn Porter, but it's quite another to get handled by a gatekeeper. I don't think Alexander's ready for that demotion yet.
- Lyle Fitzsimmons (Alexander by decision)
“As gritty as Soto-Karass is I think he fits right into Alexander’s style. I can see him getting countered all night in route to a workman like victory for Devon prompting cries of bigger fights for the ex-champion from St. Louis.”
- Ernest Gabion (Alexander by decision)
“Every time we think Jesus Soto-Karass is finished, he beats someone supposedly better than him. I still can't see that happening again, particularly because he'll encounter a suddenly desperate Devon Alexander. Back-to-back losses to Porter and Soto-Karass would ruin even an Al Haymon-backed fighter. The relentless, tough Soto-Karass might make it interesting but Alexander's hand speed and movement will be too problematic for him to overcome. Plus, Alexander CANNOT lose this fight. And he won’t.”
- Keith Idec (Alexander by decision)
“Jesus Soto-Karass is the ultimate spoiler, as he showed in his first fight against Mike Jones (despite being robbed on the cards) and his upset of Andre Berto. This time, however, I think Devon Alexander will steer clear of the Mexican's wheelhouse and stay on the outside. I think Soto-Karass will have a hard time getting inside on the southpaw, who is under pressure to deliver the type of boxing exhibition he did against Marcos Maidana in order to remain in the discussion for the lucrative fights at welterweight.”
- Ryan Maquiñana (Alexander by decision)
“After Porter just mauled Alexander, the chance that could happen to Devon here seems possible. It's more likely he turns in a performance on par with his drubbing of Maidana.”
- Cliff Rold (Alexander by decision)
“Devon Alexander and Jesus Soto-Karass lost their last fights, Devon has faced better opponents and I find him with better skills. The disadvantage will be the reach and stature; if Devon performs a smart fight should impose his style against Jesus at this weight.”
- Reynaldo Sanchez (Alexander by decision)
“Remember? Alexander, even after the first tough moment of his career (Bradley loss in 2011) was still capable to thoroughly outbox a pure slugger in Marcos Maidana. Soto-Karass is the same Maidana with lower skills and ability. He is also a plodder, which means he is tailor made for Devon. 99-91, and I'm being generous to the Mexican here.”
- Alexey Sukachev (Alexander by decision)
“In the build-up Alexander has talked about this being a statement fight. I expect him to use that awkward he used against Maidana and Matthysse and outfox Soto-Karass who'll be left hitting thin air for large parts of the contest. It'll be interesting to see if Alexander will look to engage Soto-Karass and make that statement by scoring the stoppage. I suspect he wont get it, I like Alexander to win a wide decision.
- Anson Wainwright (Alexander by decision)
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com, as well as a member of Transnational Boxing Ratings Board and the Boxing Writers Association of America. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox