By Keith Idec
If you’ve ever wondered what happened to Devon Alexander’s career in recent years, you don’t know the half of it.
The former junior welterweight and welterweight champion revealed in a story posted to the Premier Boxing Champions website Monday that his two-year layoff was caused in large part by an opioid addiction. As he prepares to return to the ring Tuesday night against Walter Castillo (FS1; 7:30 p.m. ET/4:30 p.m. PT), Alexander is telling his story for the first time in hopes of helping other addicts get the help they need.
“I look back and say to myself, ‘Man, why did I do that to myself,’ so I’m just as shocked as everyone else when I look back at everything I did,” Alexander said. “Addiction is a real deal out there, and I’m open to tell my story, if it helps someone. The first thing that you have to admit is that you have a problem.
“It’s something that had to take a real scare for me to admit. When people are taking that stuff, they really don’t think that they can get over it. There is this attitude that they give up, that they really can’t kick the habit. I’m a living witness that you can. You have to want to, and you have to have something to look forward to. I’m fortunate enough that I had my family, friends and my boxing career.”
Alexander finally sought the help he needed after he was rushed to the hospital after taking prescription painkillers one night in October 2015. The St. Louis native began taking painkillers following surgery to remove a blood clot after his win against Marcos Maidana in February 2012 and a subsequent tonsillectomy.
“That was it for me, that scared me straight,” Alexander said of his visit to the emergency room. “My wife didn’t know what was going on. The ambulance [workers] asked what happened. They took me to the emergency room, and from there on I vowed to myself, ‘No way. This doesn’t happen again.’ Anything could have happened to me and I might not have woken up. That’s the way you have to think. It was a scary feeling.”
Now that he is mentally and physically healthy again, the 30-year-old Alexander (26-4, 14 KOs) hopes beating Miami’s Castillo (26-4-1, 19 KOs) in a 10-round welterweight fight in St. Petersburg, Florida, will help put him back in contention for a title shot. Alexander has lost back-to-back unanimous decisions to Amir Khan and Aron Martinez, and hasn’t fought since Martinez defeated him in October 2015.
“Opiate addiction is an epidemic out there and I’m a living witness that it is dangerous,” Alexander said. “And I want to be an example to people that you can shake the addiction. Personally, I thank God that I was able to overcome it. On Tuesday night, the old Devon Alexander will be back. This is just the beginning of my story. I have a lot bigger plans ahead.”
To read the entire story, click here: http://www.premierboxingchampions.com/news/devon-alexander-ready-return-top-after-hardest-fight-his-life.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.