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Knocking out the hometown edge

Marcos Maidana knows a thing or two about knockouts. The hard-charging brawler from Argentina carries a knockout percentage of better than 90 percent and is one of the most feared punchers in boxing.

If past history holds up, there is a good chance Maidana is going to need a knockout to win when he faces Devon Alexander in the scheduled 10-round welterweight main event of the season premiere of "Boxing After Dark" on Saturday night (HBO, 10 ET/PT) at the Scottrade Center in Alexander's native St. Louis.

In the co-feature, Cincinnati's Adrien Broner (22-0, 18 KOs), who claimed a vacant junior lightweight title by knocking out Martin Vicente Rodriguez in the third round in November, will make his first defense against Eloy Perez (23-0-2, 7 KOs) of Salinas, Calif.

Alexander, a popular draw in St. Louis, has fought two of his previous three bouts in the area and was on the winning end of controversial decisions each time.

In August 2010, Alexander won a unanimous decision to retain his junior welterweight title against former titlist Andriy Kotelnik of Ukraine. Although all three judges scored the fight 116-112, the general consensus was that it was much closer; many even thought Kotelnik had clearly won.

After Alexander suffered his first defeat -- and lost his belt via a 10th-round technical decision in a unification bout against Timothy Bradley Jr. in Pontiac, Mich., 13 months ago -- he returned home to face another power hitter from Argentina, Lucas Matthysse, in June.

Matthysse dropped Alexander (22-1, 13 KOs) in the fourth round and appeared to many to have won the fight. However, Alexander was awarded a 10-round split decision.

Now Maidana, a junior welterweight titleholder who is moving up to the welterweight division -- as is Alexander -- is headed to St. Louis to see if he can put an end to Alexander's hometown run.


"Yes, I'm going to do my best," Maidana said through an interpreter when asked if he would be gunning for the knockout. "I'm going to do my job in order to knock him out, of course. But if not, I know I have to win by a wide margin in order to get the decision because sometimes you have these local decisions. Everybody knows that. So I think the best for me is to try to knock him out and to put an end to the problem."

And what if the fight does go to the judges' scorecards?

"I have no concerns at all," Maidana said. "In the ring there will be only Devon Alexander and myself who fight each other, so I don't worry at all."

Of course Maidana (31-2, 28 KOs) and his adviser, Sebastian Contursi, know the perils of fighting in an opponent's hometown. But Maidana is a fearless fighter who has faced good competition, which includes a close decision loss to Amir Khan in a memorable battle and a rousing majority decision victory against Erik Morales. He also believes in his power.

In his first fight in the United States, in 2009, Maidana went to Los Angeles and faced another top opponent in his home region, Victor Ortiz, and stopped him in the sixth round of a hellacious slugfest in which both men were down multiple times.

Maidana is filled with confidence going in against Alexander as well.

"I took the fight because I have faith in myself that I can win this fight," Maidana said. "I can beat Devon Alexander in his home backyard, and [I want] to demonstrate that I can beat anybody and that I'm not scared of anyone out there."

Said Contursi: "Of course, we know we can beat Alexander. We just want to be treated fairly."

Dave Itskowitch of Golden Boy Promotions, which promotes both fighters, said everything has been done to ensure that the fighters are treated fairly.

"People are talking about [the fact] we're fighting in St. Louis and the concern over home cooking," Itskowitch said. "I just want to be clear: the judges, all three judges, for this fight are from outside of the state of Missouri. We have one judge from England. We have one judge from Connecticut. And we have one judge from Puerto Rico. So it's a neutral panel and I believe, if I'm not mistaken, that was the case when Devon fought Matthysse also.

"[Missouri commission director] Tim Lueckenhoff likes to make sure that everybody gets a fair shake, and he's been very cooperative with both sides in terms of making sure that there's neutrality on the judging panel."

Referee Steve Smoger is also not from Missouri.

Alexander is pretty sick of all the discussion about so-called hometown decisions that have gone in his favor.

"Well I am, frankly, tired of all the speculation and all the suggestions that talks about me fighting in my hometown," Alexander said. "It's not my fault that I'm a big draw at home. There's nowhere else to take the fight. If I'm a big draw at home, then so be it. But this fight, I'm not going to leave it in the judges' hands. I'm going to win convincingly and I'm going to win by just keeping quiet about the whole situation.

There's no hometown favoritism or anything. I want to leave it out of everybody's hands because, at the end of the day, me and Marcos [Maidana] are the only guys getting in the ring.

-- Devon Alexander

"There's not going to be a doubt in the judges' minds, in the fans' minds or in Marcos' mind. There's not going to be a doubt that I wanted to fight. There's no hometown favoritism or anything. I want to leave it out of everybody's hands because, at the end of the day, me and Marcos are the only guys getting in the ring, so I want to leave it out of everybody's hands."

Was Alexander, more of a slick, speedy technician than a knockout puncher, just saying he plans to win by a knockout?

"If it comes to that, yes, I will," he said. "But you know me; everybody knows me. I don't get in the ring thinking of knocking anybody out, but I'm definitely going to be right there and it's definitely going to be a good fight."

Alexander said part of his problems with Kotelnik, Bradley and Matthysse was making the 140-pound junior welterweight limit, especially for the fight with Matthysse.

"That fight was at 140 and this fight is at 147, so it's a big difference," Alexander said. "A new Devon Alexander is going to be in the ring. Definitely, I feel much better [at 147]. I don't have to cut the weight like I had to in the Matthysse fight, and you're definitely going to see a different Devon.

"I'd say the last couple of fights I've been struggling to make 140. It's been harder when it usually would be a walk in the park for me. But these last couple of fights I've been struggling and training all week just to make 140. So the extra 7 pounds [are] definitely going to have me back to the old Devon Alexander that you guys saw in my previous fights."

Dan Rafael is a boxing writer for ESPN.com. Follow him on Twitter @danrafaelespn.