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Bradley vs. Alexander: A fight boxing needs

Devon Alexander, Tim Bradley promotional billboard shot. Courtesy

Devon Alexander, Tim Bradley promotional billboard shot. Courtesy of HBO. Credit: HBO

When Tim Bradley and Devon Alexander square off against each other on January 29 at the Pontiac Silver Dome for the WBC/WBO titles, it won’t be your average 140-pound championship bout. If you let the fighters tell the story, boxing needs this fight to happen in the worse way.

Are they wrong? Bradley (26-0, 11 KOs) and Alexander (21-0, 13 KOs) expressed during a conference call that boxing needs a lift. With Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather not expected to fight until at least 2012, someone needs to carry the torch for a while.

HBO will carry the bout live beginning at 10 p.m.

“This is a huge fight. I don’t know on what scale everyone else out there sees this fight, but this is the biggest fight of my career and Devon’s career,” said Bradley, the WBO champion. “We are young and both in our prime and you rarely ever see two undefeated guys –two world champions– Americans, fight each other.”

Bradley makes a good point. Most of the mega-fights the last few years have featured at least one non-American boxer. With boxing such a global sport, the race and ethnic background of a fighter hasn’t stirred a lot of conversation. But this is one of the few fights over the last few years that will feature two prominent American fighters.

The Mayweather-Shane Mosley tilt last May was the last mega fight between two Americans.

This fight is also significant because if features two undefeated African American fighters with perfect records. That hasn’t happened in a long time either. Both fighters see it as a significant milestone.

“This fight is not only good for the African-American race, it is good for boxing,” Bradley said. “In every interview I hear that boxing is dying and MMA is taking over and it’s not the same anymore. Well, here you have two African-American fighters, I just like to say Americans…two undefeated guys who are champions, young and in their prime and are going to go at it on January 29.”

Alexander, the WBC champ, agreed.

“This is a fight just like the old days. They used to want to fight the best,” Alexander said. “They would be itching to fight the best…It brings back a lot of the roots in boxing and it means a lot to have two undefeated champions.”

Unfortunately, the politics of boxing reared its ugly head (Gee, what a shock). So Alexander, who was also the IBF140-pound champ, was stripped of that belt for his refusal to fight the No.1 contender Kaiser Mabuza. It won’t be a true unification bout, so the winner will have to settle for the WBC and WBO belts.

The 140-pound division hasn’t had an undisputed champion since Kostya Tszyu won the WBC, WBA and IBF belts with a second-round KO of Zab Judah in 2001. But there is a chance of a unification happening at some point. The winner of this bout could fight WBA champion Amir Khan next summer.

New York Sports