Devon Alexander believes that everything happens for a reason, so while some fighters might be thrown off their game with a short-notice change of opponents, he's not. In fact, Alexander hasn't given a second thought to the fact that he is defending his welterweight title against Lee Purdy rather than Kell Brook, as was originally planned.
Three times, Alexander was scheduled to make his first title defense against England's Brook, and three times the fight was called off.
They were supposed to meet in the mandatory fight on Jan. 19 in Los Angeles, but Brook suffered an ankle injury and the fight was postponed. It was rescheduled for Feb. 23 in Detroit, but Alexander suffered a severely strained right biceps, causing it to be rescheduled for Saturday. But that was before Brook suffered a stress fracture in his right foot last month, forcing him out of the fight altogether.
"As far as me fighting Kell Brook, it was a roller coaster going back and forth," Alexander said. "He got injured, postponed it, then I got injured and then he postponed it again. Then he got injured again, then we had to do something else."
That something else means defending against Purdy, another Brit, so the show will go on Saturday night (Showtime, 9 ET/PT; preliminary bouts on Showtime Extreme begin at 7 ET/PT) at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, N.J.
"'Finally' is the word. I'm finally going to get in the ring after about six months of going back and forth," Alexander said. "I'm ready to rock and roll. I'm fast. I'm feeling strong. It doesn't matter who I fight. Lee Purdy is a suitable opponent. I know he's going to come to fight, but it's not going to matter, because I'll be ready for anybody."
Junior welterweight titlist Lamont Peterson (31-1-1, 16 KOs) of Washington, D.C., will face interim titleholder Lucas Matthysse (33-2, 31 KOs) of Argentina in a scheduled 12-round nontitle bout at 141 pounds in the much-anticipated main event.
On the Showtime Extreme portion of the card, unbeaten welterweights Shawn Porter (20-1, 14 KOs) of Akron, Ohio, and Toronto's Phil Lo Greco (25-0, 14 KOs) will meet in a 10-rounder and 2012 British Olympic bronze medalist Anthony Ogogo (1-0, 1 KO), who turned pro with a spectacular knockout on April 27, will face Puerto Rico's Edgar Perez (5-4, 3 KOs). Time permitting, bantamweight Haroon Khan (1-0), the younger brother of former junior welterweight titlist Amir Khan -- who also turned pro April 27 on his brother's undercard, will face Vicente Medellin (0-5) of Riverside, Calif., in a four-rounder.
Alexander, who won his title via unanimous decision against Randall Bailey in October, has been training on and off for months thinking he would be facing Brook (29-0, 19 KOs). Then, on a month's notice, he had Purdy (20-3-1, 13 KOs) dropped in his lap.
But Alexander (24-1, 13 KOs), 26, of St. Louis, a former unified junior welterweight titleholder, took it all in stride.
"It was a roller coaster, and it was very frustrating, but I'm a firm believer in 'It's going to happen when it's supposed to happen,'" Alexander said. "Everything happens for a reason. No mistakes happen. No mistakes happen, and in boxing, whatever happens, it's supposed to happen. I'm a firm believer in that.
"I'm fighting Lee Purdy for a reason. He must be a suitable opponent. He must be the guy I'm supposed to be fighting at this particular time. So I wanted to fight Kell Brook because they consider him one of the best at 147. I wanted to beat him, but they put Lee Purdy in front of me and now I've got to beat him."
Purdy, 25, the former British champion, comes into the fight as a massive underdog, but he is excited for the opportunity.
"I'm ready," he said. "It's about late notice, but I'm in good shape and I'll be dangerous for 12 rounds. When you lace up a pair of gloves when you're a young boy, this is what you dream of, and now it's come true."
But Purdy has a lot going against him. He has never fought outside of England, he had only six amateur bouts (and those came when he was 11) and he has never faced an opponent close to the top 10. His biggest win isn't really all that big. It came in March when he stopped long-faded former world title challenger Cosme Rivera -- he of 15 losses -- in the ninth round.
Purdy faces a serious uphill battle against Alexander, but he has embraced his Rocky role.
"This is a fight that I've wanted," he said. "I'm coming to bring the upset."
When he got the call from manager Tony Sims about the opportunity to challenge Alexander, Purdy did not hesitate to accept.
"I didn't have to think twice about fighting Devon," Purdy said. "Obviously, I saw him fight before and I believe I can cause him some problems. [Sims] called me up and he just said, 'You've got to fight Devon for his IBF title because Kell Brook pulled out.' And I said yes straight away -- before I knew anything about money, where the fight was. I just said yes straight away."
He said he intends to make the most of the unexpected opportunity.
"It's a fight for as long as it takes," Purdy said. "I didn't come all this way to America to let the fans down. That's exactly what I'm going to do. I'm going to come in to fight, and I'll find a way to win.
"America's going to enjoy my style. I've come to fight for three minutes of every round. They're going to expect me to put pressure on Devon. Of course, I'm not going to sit back and let him outbox me. I'm going to put my heart and soul into this fight and come out victorious."
Alexander said he is ready for whatever Purdy brings, even if his style is entirely different than that of the more skillful Brook. He said there will be no letdown because of the opponent switch.
"You don't worry about it," Alexander said. "You have no control over what happens in boxing. Boxing, it changes every day. When you wake up, you can hear something one day; you wake up the next day and it's changed again. You just can't let it bother you. You just have to continue to train, continue to do what you got to do for you and your team, getting your team together and just coming up with the best moves to make. That's what I did.
"I'm going to make the best fight we can for Saturday night, and we got Lee Purdy. We have to handle business as usual. I wanted to fight Kell Brook, but he was injured. We had to move on. As far as being let down, I'm not let down at all because I always stay positive. I'm a positive person and I believe everything happens for a reason. Everything happens on time. I'll be ready for whoever, like I said, on [Saturday], and that's Lee Purdy."