Building the perfect fight

I've always liked Kevin Cunningham, who is best known as the trainer and manager of junior middleweight titlist Cory Spinks, since first meeting him in 2003. We don't agree on everything -- far from it -- but we've had many enjoyable debates on boxing issues, especially when it comes to Spinks' career.

One thing that is not up for debate, however, is that Cunningham, a former St. Louis cop, has quietly become one of the best trainers in the sport. I have great respect for his opinions and eye for talent.

So, when he started telling me a few years ago about this flashy young prospect from St. Louis whom he was working with, Devon Alexander, I listened.

I've been following Alexander, now 20, since he turned pro in 2004 and I've seen him fight live a couple of times on promoter Don King's marathon undercards.

The kid can fight. He's a southpaw junior welterweight with a record of 11-0 with 6 knockouts and all the tools to be a world champion.

Cunningham sees no need to hold him back, and when we were talking recently, he said the fight he really wanted for Alexander was against another fine prospect, 23-year-old Timothy Bradley Jr. (20-0, 11 KOs) of Palm Springs, Calif.

Now that Bradley is promoted by Gary Shaw, three of his last four fights have been on Showtime's "ShoBox: The New Generation," the series that features prospects. But none of Bradley's opponents have been all that impressive.

Alexander has been on "ShoBox" once, scoring a seventh-round knockout on March 2 against Scott Ball, who was about as threatening as Bradley's opponents have been.

Both young men need to raise the level of their competition.
The Alexander camp is ready to do just that.

"We would love to do that fight against Bradley," Cunningham said. "They've both been on 'ShoBox' and it's a good showdown fight where the winner can go to the next level. That's why we want to do it."

Alexander knows how dangerous Bradley is. He defeated Devon's older brother, Vaughn, in the 2003 Golden Gloves.

"Devon told me, 'Get Timothy Bradley because he's on 'ShoBox' a lot,'" Cunningham said. "He said, 'I want him. I want to have a showdown with him on 'ShoBox.' I want it too."

Alexander broke his left hand in the Ball fight and was in a cast for a few weeks. Cunningham said Alexander's hand is now healthy again and that he wants to fight Bradley in the fall, assuming Alexander wins a fight on King's July 7 Travis Simms-Joachim Alcine undercard in Bridgeport, Conn.

It's the perfect fight for "ShoBox" to feature this fall, and just the sort of meaningful fight that chief programmer Gordon Hall would drool over. Hall loves to match fighters who have grown up on the series.

Showtime ringside analyst Steve Farhood loves it too, and would like to see a Bradley-Alexander match.

"At the beginning of the year, I would've ranked Alexander ahead of Bradley among 140-pound prospects, but because of the advancement he's made on 'ShoBox,' I'd now say Bradley has moved well ahead," Farhood said. "A Bradley fight is exactly what Alexander needs to prove he's the most promising American junior welterweight out there."

As great a match as it would be, don't count on seeing it happen in the immediate future. The Bradley camp isn't interested in the challenge.

"Not doing it," was Shaw's response when I asked him about it in an instant message. "Let [Alexander] fight some big fights first."

Shaw went on to say, "Alexander is not a blip on any radar screen."

What Shaw needs to realize is that Bradley isn't either.

The winner of a fight between them would be.